PIGEON FORGE / GATLINBURG
Tennessee / Smoky Mountains
A dedicated news page for all the Minor Attractions and
Resort Properties in the greater Pigeon Forge / Gatlinburg /
Smoky Mountains area.
Note - For Dollywood news, see our dedicated park page here.
---- THE LATEST NEWS ----
(10/3/22) More Rides Headed To The Island and More
(10/2/22) Gatlinburg Mountain Glider May Be Open Again (MORE...)
(10/1/22) New Ride Under Construction at The Island (MORE...)
(9/10/22) Anakeesta Moving Forward With Huge New Multi-Phase Expansion (MORE...)
(8/28/22) Construction Themed Park To Open in Pigeon Forge Area in 2023 (MORE...)
Read Screamscape’s Detailed Attraction, Show and Resort Reviews Here!
General Area News - (10/3/22) According to a slightly older update on Facebook by Coaster Chit Chat, it appears that the space between SkyFly and Paula Dean is being prepped for the addition of at least three new rides. We’ve already seen that a Zamperla NebulaZ is going up on one of the pads, so it wont be long before we start to see work on whatever other new attractions they have in store. The question is, will this be a mix of attractions from different manufactures, or did they secure a package to buy all of them from Zamperla?
In other news, I’m told that down the street at the NASCAR SpeedPark attraction, just past the Outlet Mall I believe, they appear to be installing a new ride as well that is expected to be a Chance Unicoaster.
(10/2/22) According to a reader who called Ripley’s Mountain Coaster in Gatlinburg, the employee on the phone said that the Mountain Gliders (suspended coaster) is now reopen. The return of this attraction was said to be a very recent development and the official website has not been updated to reflect this yet. If anyone goes by there and can take a picture and verify that the Mountain Gliders are back, please do let us know.
(10/1/22) A new ride is currently under construction at The Island in Pigeon Forge., tucked right in between the Paula Dean restaurant and the SkyFly soaring theater attraction. From the picture, this clearly appears to be a Zamperla NebulaZ ride, a fairly new creation that has been quickly gaining traction and popularity lately.
With the main structure of the ride’s central tower in place along with the rotating arms, we catch a glimpse of the install crew hoisting one of the rider pods into place with a forklift while a crane is attached to the other end of the arm, holding it steady during the installation. I’d expect to see this up and running very soon, so check it out if you’re in the area later this month!
(8/23/22) The Lumberjack Feud in Pigeon Forge will host the First-Annual Rib Fest (presented by Sugerlands Distilling Co.) on October 1st and 2nd, 2022. The weekend long festival will be fun for the whole family, offering fresh ribs from local vendors, games, inflatables, live music, and of course, the authentic lumberjack competition they are known for.
“The vendors will be competing for the title of Rib Fest People’s Choice Champion. They will be smoking ribs all day both days on site and serving them fresh alongside homemade side-items and beverages. The winner will be decided by guests by voting for their favorite ribs. The prizes are $2,000 for First Place, $1,500 for Second Place, and $1,000 for Third Place.
During the festival, check out the Smoky Mountain Wood Choppin’ Championship, an authentic timbersports competition. Lumberjacks from around the country will be there to compete in these events: Standing Block Chop, Underhand Chop, Singlebuck, Springboard Chop, Hot Saw, and Speed Climb. This is taking place on both days of the festival.
Enjoy live music from local artists both days from River Divide, Whiskey Business, and a
surprise headliner. For the kids and the kids-at-heart, there will be inflatables, mini-golf, face-
painting, caricature drawing, and games.”
(7/17/22) Another interesting change of ownership has happened in the Gatlinburg area, as the former Rowdy Bear Mountain Coaster attraction was apparently bought by Ripley’s a few months ago. Previously I had not seen any news story mentioning this, but Ripley’s has added it to the list of attractions they offer in Gatlinburg, and have renamed it Ripley’s Mountain Coaster. One odd thing however is that there is no mention of the attraction’s suspended Mountain Glider attraction being offered. A reader who visited in May said it wasn’t long after the buyout and that the Glider was closed they were told they were waiting on the manufacturer to be able to send a team out to perform required maintenance on it before they could reopen it.
In the meantime Rowdy Bear has changed the name of their remaining attraction in Pigeon Forge from Rowdy Bear Ridge to “Rowdy Bear’s Smoky Mountain Snowpark”. The owners of Rowdy Bear are also listed as owners of the upcoming Skyland Ranch attraction down the road in Sevierville, across from the Tanger Outlets. (We’ve also got a construction update for Skyland Ranch today as well…)
Fall 2022 - SkyLand Ranch - (7/17/22) A new video shows off the progress being made at the new Skyland Ranch attraction. The website still lists Skyland Ranch as opening this summer, but in the video they say they are shooting to have a grand opening sometime between September and October, but expect to have a limited soft-opening before that for what is ready. So far they’ve made a lot of progress, with much of the track for the new Wild Stallion alpine coaster now in place. The chairlift still needs to be installed however, but the large station building at the bottom is already in place. The chairlift won't be the only way to the top of the mountain however, as they will offer shuttles that will drive guests to the top who would rather not ride the chairlift.
(3/6/22) A new $40 million attraction is coming to the Pigeon Forge / Sevierville area to be called SkyLand Ranch. According to the updates SkyLand Ranch will be located just across the street from the Tanger Outlets, which I believe puts it right next door to the Five Oaks Farm Kitchen restaurant on the site of the former Oak Tree Lodge hotel that was demolished last year. (NOTE: if you haven’t eaten at Five Oaks, you are missing out!)
Skyland Ranch will be a 100-acre farm style property located up the hill, away from the main road and traffic, with a chairlift featuring both open-chair (skylift style) and enclosed cabin options to move guests from the ground level up to the primary ranch property above. Overall the concept seems very much like Anakeesta in Gatlinburg, a variety of small attractions will be available to guests once they are at the top, including a mile long mountain coaster, a suspended bridge, canopy walks, a bakery, candy shop, ziplines, shops, horseback riding and a display of miniature animals. Now if they just make sure to keep the price of the chairlift ride to the top more reasonable than Anakeesta, them I’m sure SkyLand Ranch will have a bright future ahead of it.
The attraction itself is another creation from the owners of the two Rowdy Bear attractions in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge and according to the website, it should be ready to open sometime in Summer 2022. Given the location next to Five Oaks, I wonder if they are involved as well as it sounds like the existing stables and ziplines they have may be incorporated into this attraction.
2023 - Dig’N Zone - (8/28/22) Would you believe that another mini-park attraction is coming to the Pigeon Forge area? Located along Veterans Blvd about two-thirds of the way before it dead-ends into Dolly Parton Parkway crews have already broken ground to build the new Dig’n Zone Theme Park. This isn’t your typically theme park however, themed around the concept of construction vehicles, the park is said to feature over 25 attractions areas that will allow you to ride on, drive and even operate various pieces of construction equipment around the 27-acre property.
Late 2022 through to 2024 - Anakeesta Expansion - (9/10/22) Anakeesta has announced the attraction’s largest expansion project this week that will see the creation of a European themed village on the mountaintop. The $34 million expansion will open in phases through to the end of 2024 and will include new retails and dining experiences, a birdhouse themed play structure, a “magical night walk with immersive lighting and audio” and a new mountain coaster.
They say that the first phase to open will be the “Astra Lumina Enchanted Night Walk” that should be ready by November 1st, this year. The first part of the village and the BirdVenture play structure should be ready by Spring 2023 with more phases to follow.
This will include Hellbender, their new “double-rail mountain coaster”, which will feature “experiential tunnels, with twists and turns through the forest giving guests an exciting downhill adventure”. Hellbender will be from Wiegand, but at this time no stats have been revealed.
(6/27/21) Anakeesta has been conducting guest, passholder and online surveys to get feedback about what kind of future additions they should add to the mountainside attraction. Current options from the first survey ask about adding new ziplines or other “challenge adventures”, more “skywalks”, another “mountain coaster” or a fill in the blank space, so the sky is the limit. Other than asking about new attractions, they are also seeking information on if guests have visited before and what exactly brought them to visit Anakeesta this time. I’m told that this is apparently the start of a series of weekly guest surveys they will be sending out to passholders to get their opinions on future expansion concepts.
???? - 407: Gateway to Adventure / Puy du Fou - (7/2/22) Blooloop has posted a huge story about how the current “407: Gateway to Adventure” concept under construction at the gateway to Pigeon Forge off the I-40 freeway came to be. Tracking how the project from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians worked with OE Experiences and sought out ways to extend the guest traffic from beyond a 15-45 minute stop at the upcoming Buc-ee’s location that was already signed, and turn it into a 3-4 hour stop by adding even more experiential attractions. From here came talks with Puy du Fou who had already begun looking into ways to expand their attraction concept from beyond Europe and into the United States.
The article is very educational to those who want to know more about what may be coming to this newest development in a very busy and competitive tourist area. It is also great to know that they are aware of the challenge and are designing the project not for today’s market, but designing it to fit the needs of the market 10 years from now, all while trying to anticipate how everything will fit to remain competitive. Meanwhile it is great to keep in mind that all this is just the first phase of development for the 407: Gateway to Adventure project, as they have space for much more than can be added in the future. But one step at a time…
(5/17/22) I hadn’t seen this before, but a tweet from Blooloop shares a look at concept art for the the “407: Gateway to Adventure” project, otherwise known as the gateway exit to Pigeon Forge where Puy du Fou is supposed to build a new stand-alone immersive attraction that will feature an authentic Cherokee story of the First World War. The artwork shows off a large building on the right with a rocky facade out front along with a large statue of what we assume to be a Cherokee soldier holding the American flag. According to the description, this and the surrounding complex of buildings will represent just phase 1 of the project.
(5/7/22) According to a local news report the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has “inked a deal” with Puy du Fou to develop a “spectacular immersive show” to be installed as part of their 200-acre development project on I-40’s exit 407. This matches up with a previous report that Puy du Fou was looking at this location amongst others in Tennessee for a future project.
(This is also the same overall project area that will include the world’s largest Buc-ee’s location.)
According to the report the tribal council that approved $75 million to move forward with Phase 1 of the site development as they seek out other world-class attractions that will appeal to the anticipated crowds (6.7 million visitors in the first year after phase 1 is complete). While the timeline is still fluid, they are hoping that this will all be ready before the end of 2024.
The creative team at Puy du Fou has been able to create fascinating attractions and shows based on actual historic events and timelines and according to a statement from the Tribal Council, “We are excited to take the first steps towards developing this world-class attraction that will help support our nation economically while creating a new platform to share dimensions of Cherokee history many have never heard.”
The early description of the Tennessee site is not going to be as massive as the full Puy du Fou theme park in France, Instead Puy du Fou will create an “immersive walk-through show inspired by the journeys of Cherokee Indians who served in World War I” that should be a “patriotic and moving journey for the entire family.”
As North America is considered “the new world” in terms of the overall history of the planet, the location is also rich with a variety of historic events and cultures that would serve as an excellent landing point for the Puy du Fou team who is rumored to be looking to expand into new locations across the world.
(2/18/22) Earlier this month we heard that Puy du Fou was looking into a possible site in Florida, just north of Daytona to build their first US theme park, but apparently the French theme park company is also wisely eyeballing some other locations in the US as possible sites as well. According to a local news article reps for Puy du Fou have also been meeting with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians who are currently developing a 200-acre site on I-40 at the main exit guests take to get to Pigeon Forge.
The site has already announced that it will be home to the world’s largest Buc-ee’s gas station and convenience store and now it seems there is a chance that Puy du Fou may also be willing to plant their flag in Tennessee.
(11/12/20) The local news has some new details about the planned “experiential destination” coming to a 200 acre property next to the freeway exit most take off I-40 to get down to Pigeon Forge. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians held an official groundbreaking ceremony this week for the project where they announced the theme of the first phase (of three planned phases) will have an “American road trip” theme.
Phase 1 is being called the “Roadside District” for now and will be about 60 acres in size and include a ‘travel center” along with lodging, dining and shopping opportunities, all with iconic Route 66 style icons and theming. A lot of ground work will need to take place to make the site ready for vertical construction which probably won't happen until sometime in 2022.
New 2021 Attractions Now Open in Pigeon Forge Area -
SkyFly: Soar America - New Flying Theater attraction at The Island at Pigeon Forge
Rowdy Bear CoasterKart - New powered alpine coaster style attraction at Rowdy Bear Ridge
Appalachian Axe Co. - Axe Throwing
Toy Box Mini Golf
Gatlinburg SkyLift / SkyBridge Expansion
The Edge @ Soaky Mountain Waterpark
New 2020 Attractions Now Open in Pigeon Forge Area -
Anakeesta Expansion - Vista Garden Observation Tower, New Sokehouse & Brewery, TreeVenture
Soaky Mountain Waterpark -
New 2019 Attractions Now Open in Pigeon Forge Area -
Rowdy Bear Ridge: Pigeon Forge - Mountain Tubing and Alpine Flyer Coaster
Beyond the Lens (formerly National Enquirer Live) - Tabloid Museum
Mountain Monster at The Mountain Mile - Three attractions all attached to the 200 foot tower: the Saddle Sling, Daring Drop and the infamous Dive Ride
Pirate’s Voyage - New Dinner Theater replacing Dolly’s Smoky Mountain Adventures Dinner & Show
Rocky Top Mountain Coaster - (5/4/19) Take a ride-along with me down the new Rocky Top Mountain Coaster in the latest POV video just shot this week. While the four separate lift-hills do break up the high-speed thrills of the experience, it also creates an interesting multi-tiered feel to the run, as you move deeper and deeper into the hidden terrain that you can’t see from the front of the attraction when you arrive. The twisted, interwoven aspect also makes this an interesting visual experience for large groups, as you can see other members of your party riding along in their own sleds at different parts of the journey, which is something you normally can't do on a typical one-lift alpine coaster attraction.
New 2018 Attractions Now Open in Pigeon Forge Area -
Anakeetsa / Rail Runner Mountain Coaster - Aerial tram to mountainside attractions area, including single-rail alpine coaster attraction, ziplines and more.
Rowdy Bear Mountain adds Mountain Glider - Zip Coaster style attraction
New 2017 Attractions Now Open in Pigeon Forge Area -
Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Adventures Dinner & Show - Renamed and revamped version of last year’s Dolly Parton’s Lumberjack Adventure show.
Rowdy Bear Mountain - New alpine coaster in Gatlinburg opened late summer
Pigeon Forge Snow - Indoor Snow Tubing and Play Area opened in late 2018
New 2016 Attractions Now Open in Pigeon Forge Area -
Dolly Parton’s Lumberjack Adventure - Dolly bought the old Lumberjack Feud dinner theater attraction and has remade it into an all new dinner show, located down next to The Island, featuring good entertainment, good food and great fun. Read our official review here.
Top Jump - A new attraction in Pigeon Forge has opened a few weeks ago called Top Jump, featuring the largest "Clip 'n Climb" installation in the USA. They also feature a Trampoline Park (complete with Dodgeball game) a candy store and an arcade. Look for it on the main drag just before Dollywood Lane when driving in from Gatlinburg.
New 2015 Attractions Now Open in Pigeon Forge Area -
Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen / The Island at Pigeon Forge - The infamous Paula Deen has opened a Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen location in Pigeon Forge. Her new joint will be right in the shadow of the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel, across from the new fountain display at The Island in Pigeon Forge. The food is good and the portion sizes are very large, but as you would expect the prices are a bit high as well. They do serve an interesting breakfast menu as well.
Ober Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster - Opened in August, the cost to ride will be $15 for one ride (age 3 and up) and $36 if you want to pre-purchase 3 rides (for the same rider only). However there is one more factor to consider if you want to ride this newest thriller. Walking into Ober Gatlinburg is a little difficult, as you first have to get yourself to the top of the mountain, with the primary way for most people being a $12 round-trip ride on the Aerial Tramway up from Gatlinburg proper. Note: If you can find your way, you can get directions to drive to the top of mountain and park directly at Ober Gatlinburg in the warmer months of the year, though you will have to pay $5 for parking. They claim a track length of aprox. 3750 feet (1000 feet up, 2750 feet down.
New 2014 Attractions Now Open in Pigeon Forge Area -
The Coaster at Goats On The Roof (aka: The Goat Coaster) - The Goat Coaster clocks in at 4,375 feet in length, so it's a little shorter than the nearby Smoky Mt Alpine Coaster down the road which is 5,400 feet, but it is also quite a bit longer than the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster which is just 3,280 feet. That said... I found the downhill portion of the new Goat Coaster to not only be much faster, but also a much more aggressive layout. The course weaves back and forth across the hillside, but frequently approaches the cliff-style edge of the mountain at high speed, which is a sure-fire clinch-up moment where you want to pull back on the throttle and ride the brake for a second or two... just in case.
Don't miss it! It's a blast!
Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster - The third new Alpine Coaster attraction to open in the area, but the first in Gatlinburg, located between the Davy Crocket Mini Golf and Hillbilly Mini Golf attractions.
New 2013 Attractions Now Open in Pigeon Forge Area -
Great Smoky Mountain Wheel / The Island at Pigeon Forge - It took a few years but the new retail / attraction development now known at The Island at Pigeon Forge has finally opened and looks fantastic. There are a few gift shops, the Timberwood Grill restaurant, a huge arcade and the highlight of course that you can see for miles is The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel, a 200 foot tall observation wheel giving you a unique view of the Pigeon Forge / Smoky Mountain landscape. The wheel features 42 climate controlled gondolas which will make three full revolutions during your ride experience which will take between 8-10 minutes. The huge attraction is covered with a 24,000 square-foot network of LEDS that will put on a spectacular lightshow seen all around Pigeon Forge after dark.
Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster - Opened in early August, built into the mountain terrain, it is about half a mile or so off the main drag down Wears Valley Road. This is probably the most exciting attraction built in the Pigeon Forge area outside of Dollywood in years so don’t miss it.
New 2012 Attractions Now Open in Pigeon Forge Area -
Castle of Chaos & Hannah’s Maze of Mirrors - Now open next to the Hollywood Wax Museum, featuring a large mirror maze attraction and the Castle of Chaos 5D Interactive shot ‘em up haunt style attraction. Admission ticket specials are available in combinations with the Hollywood Wax Museum.
Hollywood Wax Museum - (3/1/11) According to this article the company behind the former Hollywood Wax Museum in Gatlinburg will open a new wax museum attraction in Pigeon Forge at the site of the former Dinosaur Walk Museum. The new 30,000 sqft attraction will be the largest of its kind when it opens in 2012.
Lumberjack Feud - (3/29/11) An interesting new dinner show will be opening on Pigeon Forge this June called the Lumberjack Feud, which will feature a 1000-seat arena. The show “will follow the fictional story of two families that worked together in felling the trees of the Smokies until tragedy strikes and a wedge is driven between them. The climax of the show will be a contest between the two sides to determine who gets to stay on in the mountains and who must leave.” The show also has their own Facebook page. (Now Closed)
The Smokey Mountain Opry Theater - The Smokey Mountain Opry Theater opens in March, replacing the former Miracle Theater. This new production comes from the same group behind the Hatfield & McCoy, Comedy Barn and Country Jamboree Breakfast shows.
Titanic Museum Update - The Titanic Museum will upgrade a few things this year to mark the passing of the 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic on April 15th, 2012. A new exhibit about the making of James Cameron’s Titanic film will be added.
The Tomb - A new themed interactive Egyptian tomb attraction at Walden’s Landing (home of Firehouse Golf). Getting in to the tomb is easy… getting out? Not so much… Looks to be a nice unique addition to the area that would be fun to experience with a group of friends.
Wonders of Flight - (NOW CLOSED) Wonders of Flight, a large tethered hot air balloon ride will be added to WonderWorks. The balloon will be from Aerophile, the same company Disney has used in Paris and Walt Disney World, and will be able to lift 30 passengers 400 feet into the air for a view of the Smokey Mountains. (Now Closed)
Screamscape Reviews - A collection of our most recent area attraction and resort reviews
Dixie Stampede (2016)
Margaritaville Island Hotel (2015)
The Comedy Barn (2015)
Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show (2015)
The Tomb (2014)
Wilderness at the Smokies (2014)
Dixie Stampede - Review by Lance Hart
(9/25/16) While visiting Dollywood over the summer I had the chance to stop in a enjoy the latest version of Pigeon Forge's premier dinner show, Dixie Stampede. Over the years I've seen the show a couple of times... once or twice before in Pigeon Forge and I even got to see the Orlando version while it was open. The nice thing about the Dixie Stampede show is that it keeps evolving over the years, not only adding new acts to the show, but also great new technical additions to improve the overall show experience.
Case in point, the theater has added a great looking video-wall that acts as a huge virtual set / backdrop at the far end of the theater. This allows them to create some new and unique atmosphere options that were simply not possible before, which adds greatly to the show experience, without being so over the top that it takes your attention away from the performers.
In addition to incredible choreographed musical numbers, including both horse and riders, the show also features several fun musical acts, enjoyable competition elements to get the crowd cheering for their side, as well as some hairy looking stunt performances as well, including a rider who jumps through a ring of fire. On top of it all, there is the comedy elements that are just genuinely funny. In fact, it may be the comedy moments that stick with you the most, as these acts are usually headlined by the antics of "Skeeter", the lovable redneck who has just great timing with his punch lines.
As always the food is plentiful and oh so tasty, which just adds to the great value of the show itself. Plus it was great to watch my kids be enthralled by the show, the performers, animals, the music and more. Such a perfect way to end a long day in Pigeon Forge too.
The Comedy Barn - review by Lance Hart
(2/28/15) For the third part on my Pigeon Forge series I’m going to talk about an attraction that is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year… The Comedy Barn. If you’ve been to Pigeon Forge before you know you've seen it... either on the billboards or passing by the large red building in the middle of the parkway. While it sticks out, it also had an unfortunate effect to blend in with the other assorted mess of crazy shops, tourist traps and attractions. Truth be told, before my latest trip to Pigeon Forge, I had always wondered about The Comedy Barn, but I never had any serious intention to stop in and find out. I’m happy to report what a colossal mistake I had been making all these years, and one many of you are also probably guilty of.
The site itself has some history, as The Comedy Barn began with the purchase of the closed Archie Campbell’s Hee Haw Theater, which was already themed to look like a barn, so when the founders: David Fee and Jim Hedrick, bought it, they decided to run with it and renamed it The Comedy Barn Theater when it opened in 1995. A year later they had experienced almost nightly sellout shows and decided to build their own new theater in the middle of the parkway, and kept The Comedy Barn name and theme.
As the name implies, The Comedy Barn is an comedy show held in the evenings that will feature a little pre-show entertainment, some musical acts, an intermission and several different comedy acts that were all original and hysterical. There are also an assortment of comedians on staff at The Comedy Barn so who you see perform there one night may be entirely different from who you see on your next trip, which is great as it keeps things fresh for repeat visitors.
Another awesome feature of the Comedy Barn, no matter who is performing, is that the comedy is kept CLEAN. This is a family friendly show that you can feel entirely comfortable in bringing both young children and grandparents alike to come see.
Open year round, The Comedy Barn puts on one or two shows nightly and is offered at a great discount rate right how as part of a combo ticket offer for the Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show, which was featured in last week’s review. One item of note... this is NOT a dinner theater. You can however buy food and snacks in the lobby before the show or during intermission. You can pull up the schedule and buy your tickets online in advance at the official website.
Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show - review by Lance Hart
(2/20/15) This second article in my series on visiting Pigeon Forge, TN will be all about another one of the area's famous dinner theaters, the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show. The Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show, located next to the Titanic Museum, is also one of the newer production in town, opening back in mid-2011. Unlike some of Pigeon Forge’s other dinner theaters the Hatfield and McCoy building is a highly themed masterpiece, with bright red and blue cartoon style colors that would look right at home within any theme park environment. The building is designed not only to stand-out, but also gives a great visual representation of the family feud story it is based on, with fun props outside as well as farm animals (Goats, pigs, chickens and big fat rabbits) on display. In addition to some fun photo spots outside with the animals, outhouses and funny signs, there is also a neat doorbell gag installed at each of the three entrances into the building, daring you to ring the bell.
Once inside, you can wander around a large gift shop area which actually has some great redneck / hillbilly themed gifts inside (beer or bacon scented soap anyone?), fun t-shirts and a very impressive fish aquarium that is themed to look like it was made from a gigantic old moonshine still. It is worth mentioning that the creation of this moonshine still themed aquarium was actually documented for a recent episode (Dec. 12, 2014) of the reality show, Tanked, which can be viewed here.
Arrive early, because you'll need to get your tickets from one of the windows and line up to go inside the theater, and it gets crowded rather quickly. Keep an eye out, because some of the characters from the show are actually wandering around in here as well, and fortunately Ma McCoy saw the confused look on my face and rushed over to welcome Kerry and I to the family reunion. After the brief welcome she took us to the right ticket window and made sure we would be sitting with the rest of her kin on the McCoy side of the theater. Apparently we were distant cousins and invited to take a quick photo for the McCoy family album (we were even given a moonshine jug and uncle Jeb’s rifle to hold) before being taken to our dinner table.
“Cousins!!” We were quickly welcomed at the table by Cousin Pee-Wee who asked what we wanted to drink and said he would be right back with some fresh Possum Soup. This was a great touch, as even the food service staff was in on the act, which only helped to make the experience even more immersive and fun. Before we knew it Cousin Pee-Wee was back with two bowls of the Southern Style Creamy Soup (minus the possum thank god!) and a basket of warm biscuits. Just as we finished the soup, he was back again with several small pots filled with awesome southern comfort food items like Corn on the Cob, Fried Chicken, BBQ Pulled Pork, Mashed Potatoes and Coleslaw. Seriously... this was a ton of food, all of it very good, and just when we were stuffed and couldn't take another bite of pulled pork, Pee-Wee was back with dessert, a chocolate Worms & Dirt style pudding, minus the worms. The food was great, the serving size was more than enough, and service was excellent! Your Tea and Soda are included with the meal but if you want something more you can flag down another one of your new cousins who are walking around with a cooler full of beer or a jar of Moonshine for an additional charge.
While all this was going on, we were entertained in the theater by some great music and small comedy bits for the pre-show, which lasts for the duration of the meal. Unlike the bigger "arena" style dinner theater shows like Dixie Stampede which need room for animals to run around, the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show is an more intimate experience with an assortment of big tables on the floor level right up next to the stage, a ring of tables around the main entry level promenade, proceeded by several levels of tiered seating beyond that. There isn't a bad seat in the house.
Once dinner is done, the show proper begins with the local Mayor hiring a new Sheriff assigned with keeping the peace in town as the local feuding families, the Hatfields and McCoys, are on their way down to a barn dance. As you can imagine, as soon as they see each other the nostrils flare, the fists begin to fly and weapons are soon brought to the ready as the hapless sheriff intervenes as best as he can.
I'm not going to give away any more of the story than that, but the rest of the show is full of action, comedy, singing, dancing, banjo dueling, the occasional bit of gunfire and a lot of laughter. The show's comedian talents are top notch at performing in front of a live audience, and the cast has a great assortment of talented musicians and dancers of all ages who all rocked the house. In short, I loved every minute of this show and would go back in a heart-beat, especially as I hear that they have a special "Christmas Disaster" show they put on for the holiday season as well that I can’t wait to see!
You can reserve your own night at the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Theater at the official website, which I recommend doing in advance as they can easily sell out a performance. They also have a great deal on their website right now allowing you to add on tickets to the group's four other sister shows for just $14.95 for adults, and free for kids which is a steal. Their other shows are the Smoky Mountain Opry, Blackwoods Morning Variety Show, Magic Beyond Belief and The Comedy Barn. (We opted for the Comedy Barn which will be the subject of our next article...)
So the next time you are in Pigeon Forge and looking for an evening of good laughs, great food and fantastic entertainment, then look no further than the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show. You wont regret it.
The Tomb - (10/8/14) An interesting article talks about the rise of “Escape the Room” style attractions where you are put in a small group and trapped within a a small environment or small room(s) and have to search through the contents within to solve riddles and puzzles in order to escape. According to the article, the attractions began appearing in Europe and Asia about a decade ago, but are now starting to appear in the US in limited form, and the article goes on to describe one in Miami Beach called Escape the Quest.
While I haven't seen that particular attraction, which is said to only have a 20% success rate, I did try a similar concept themed attraction in Pigeon Forge back in August called The Tomb. At The Tomb you are teamed up with a small group, and sent into a creepy Egyptian tomb themed experience, along with a guide, who also acts as a storyteller and aide just in case one of the puzzles is proving a little too solve.
Sections of the Tomb are dark… very dark, and you are even given flashlights to find your way in one room, all to help create a creepy, almost haunted house style atmosphere. The puzzles are not hard… but some do require a group effort while others are far more easier if a leader type is there to help direct the action, but the overall experience is quite fun and worth a try.