PIGEON FORGE / GATLINBURG
Tennessee / Smoky Mountains
A dedicated news page for all the Smaller 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 ----
(12/19/2023) Xperia Ocean Journey Update
(12/1/2023) New Sevierville Theme Park To Open in Early 2024 (MORE...)
(11/21/2023) The Mermaids and Sky Pirates Are Coming!
(10/31/2023) Pigeon Forge - Xperia Ocean Journey Opening Very Soon (MORE...)
(10/28/2023) Gatlinburg's Anakeesta Opens Their New Hellbender Mountain Coaster (MORE...)
(10/25/2023) Pigeon Forge - Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud To Put On New Christmas Show (MORE...)
Read Screamscape’s Detailed Attraction, Show and Resort Reviews Here!
General Area News - (10/25/2023) If you are planning a visit to Pigeon Forge this holiday season, consider dropping into the Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud, as the show will be performing a special Christmas Dinner Feud version of the show from November 1st through to Jan. 6, 2024. Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud will be “delivering a brand-new yuletide show that will have families laughing all the way through the holiday experience. America’s two favorite feuding families have found a new seasonal squabble to create holiday hijinks this year”.
“Guests will join Pa Hatfield and Ma McCoy as they attempt to embrace the true spirit of the season amidst a newly developed disagreement, but there are a flurry of festive fiascos and holiday chaos along the way. A new cast member named Lil Hickory, a pig with a penchant for Christmas mischief, adds to the seasonal silliness, and he’s literally quite a “holiday ham.” This comedic dinner show unites these two famous feudin’ families along with the area townsfolk in a jolly jamboree of singing, dancing, music, stunts and seasonal shenanigans that bring this one-of-a-kind holiday tale to life.”
“All the feudin’ will work up quite the holiday appetite, and one thing the Hatfields and McCoys can agree upon is the importance of a delicious Christmas feast. The family-style holiday dinner is all you can eat served up with all the best Southern favorites from Ma McCoy’s country kitchen. The meal begins with creamy vegetable soup and hot homemade bread, followed by fried chicken, pulled pork barbecue, mashed potatoes, creamy coleslaw, corn on the cob, and a special dessert to complete the evening. Vegetarian, dairy-free and gluten-free meals available upon request.”
Visit the official website for all the details and to make your own reservations.
October 2023 - Lost Mine Mountain Coaster & Mini Golf - NOW OPEN - (10/10/2023) A full POV video showing off the new Lost Mine Mountain Coaster in Pigeon Forge can be seen below. Unlike some of the other mountain coasters in the area, this one actually features a good bit of themeing along the way, as you will travel up a total of four lifts, each followed by a high speed downhill section. The themeing along the way include tunnels, buildings, a graveyard, lot of references to bears looking for honey, and more. I’m not sure of the overall length however, but it is interesting to note that some of these lift hills also look a bit steeper than some of the other similar rides in the area. All said and done, this looks like a lot of fun and I’ll be trying it out myself the next time I’m in the area.
(9/29/2023) Would you believe there is yet another mountain coaster in Pigeon Forge? This one is called the Lost Mine Mountain Coaster & Mini Golf and according to their Facebook page, it is at 2509 Teaster Ln in Pigeon Forge. This would be a previously empty plot of land that sits between Pigeon Forge Snow and the Hampton Inn Pigeon Forge. If memory serves, a previous developer was once promoting this site as a possible location for another aerial tram ride up the hill where they were going to build some kind of observation platform, but this sounds much better.
Speaking of their FB page, apparently they were offering some free sneak preview rides on Thursday night and earlier tonight. While they haven’t posted an official opening date, it may be worth your while to go by if you are in town to see if they have quietly soft opened for riders yet.
(5/20/2023) According to a post on Twitter, yet another Alpine Coaster is now under construction in Pigeon Forge. This one is said to be located next door to the Mountain Mile complex on Teaster Lane.
2024 - Sky Pirates of Mermaid Bay - (11/21/2023) A new themed Mini Golf complex is opening soon in Pigeon Forge called the “Sky Pirates of Mermaid Bay”. Built on the main strip in Pigeon Forge, just a short distance from MagiQuest, this new complex features 36 holes of themed mini golf with the Mermaid Course and the rooftop Sky Pirates course. I believe this latest attraction comes from the same owner of the Crave Golf Club and Toy Box Mini Golf attractions.
I’m not sure when it will open, as based on some pictures online, they appear to be adding all the themed elements right now, so depending on how fast that goes, it might be ready by the end of the year, if not in early 2024.
2024 - Dig’N Zone - Delayed - (12/1/2023) Dig’n Zone, the new construction equipment themed park in Sevierville will finally be ready to open on March 1st, 2024. They had originally hoped to have the park open in early 2023, but various delayed have pushed the opening back by several months.
Check out thee video announcement below where they talk about future soft-opening dates for the park where you can test out some of the attractions early.
(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.
Now through to 2024 - Anakeesta Expansion - (10/28/2023) The new Hellbender mountain coaster at Anakeesta in Gatlinburg is now open. Based on the POV video below, the run seems quite fast as you zig-zag all the way to the bottom for about 90 seconds, and end with a very long lift hill back up to the top of the mountain.
(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.
Late 2023 - Xperia Ocean Journey - (12/19/2023) Xperia Ocean Journey, the new ocean themed attraction in the PIgeon Forge area, had now confirmed that they are fully open, with online tickets for sale through the website daily. Xperia is located in the back corner of the Tanger Outlets.
(10/31/2023) Xperia Ocean Journey, the new digital underwater adventure attraction, appears to be preparing to open in a couple of weeks in Sevierville. The official website is now selling tickets with the first available dates starting on Nov. 15th for this unique new attraction in Sevierville, in the back corner of the Tanger Outlets by the Disney Outlet store.
(10/9/22) A new attraction called Xperia Ocean Journey has been announced for the Pigeon Forge area, set to open in Winter 2023, at the “Tanger Outlets at Five Oaks”. From the sound of things this will be a technology base cutting edge take on allowing guests to visit the wonders of the ocean depths from the safety of dry land. It promises an experience with ‘marine creatives, including a life-size humpback whale in 3D, a giant battling humboldt squids, a stealthy thresher shark, sea-lions and more, with visual effects created by the Oscar winning VFX team of artists behind Game of Thrones, Wonder Woman and Westworld.
2024 - NERF Action Xperience & Crayola Experience - (8/31/2023) Another new attraction is coming to Pigeon Forge in 2024 that many may find appealing to their younger days. Hasbro has teamed up with Kingsmen Experience and Bright Play to open a NERF Action Xperience attraction in the Fall of 2024. The 29,000 sqft attraction will feature an obstacle course, sports challenges and of course, NERF Blaster Battle zones, as well as a themed retail and food & beverage space to relax and refuel in. According to the statement posted at Blooloop, this will be the group’s second location in North America, with plans in place to open the first in New Jersey later this year.
On a side note, Kingsmen is also working with Crayola to build the new Crayola Experience attraction coming to Pigeon Forge next year as well, though I’m not sure if the two will be built near each other or in separate locations. From what I’ve heard the Crayola attraction will be built near Pigeon’s Forge’s WonderWorks attraction, so keep your eye open in this area for the NERF attraction as well.
(8/20/2023) According to a news report from Blooloop, Crayola is planning on adding up to five new “Crayola Experience” attractions across the US by 2027, starting with one in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee set to open in the fall of 2024. The 30,000 sqft attraction in Pigeon Forge will offer over 20 interactive attractions to enjoy, as well as a large retail space of course. Included with be the ability to name your own Crayola crayon to take home.
Currently there are five existing Crayola Experience attractions: Chandler, AZ, Easton, PA, Orlando, FL and Plano, TX and one inside the Mall of America in Minnesota.
???? - 407: Gateway to Adventure / Puy du Fou / Buc-ee’s / Smoky Gap - (6/4/2023) Many fans of the Pigeon Forge area have been eagerly awaiting the opening of the area’s brand new Buc-ee’s Sevierville location, located right at the main freeway exit to the Pigeon Forge area on I-40, Exit 407. According to the reports Buc-ee’s has confirmed that the grand opening of their largest location in the world will take place on June 26, 2023. The location will soft-open at 6am that day, but an official ribbon cutting ceremony will take place later at 11am.
(4/15/2023) Amongst all the individual attractions across the Pigeon Forge area, it may surprise you that perhaps the most highly anticipated new attraction set to open this year is not an attraction at all… but really a gas station? Yes, I’m talking about the new Buc-ee’s location under construction at the 407 exit off I-40, which serves as the main freeway exit that leads straight to Pigeon Forge and then Gatlinburg.
Of course calling Buc-ee’s just a “gas station” is hardly accurate. They do have gas pumps of course, and this latest location will have a staggering 120 of them on site (plus 20 EV charging stations), but at the heart of it all is a massive 74,000 square-foot store, which is lightyears beyond what you would even think to find in a regular gas station / convenience store location. A clean massive restroom area, fresh BBQ and other food items cooked on site, and more drinks and snack items than you can imagine, plus a retail store area as well. Now just the other day the local media had just announced that this new Buc-ee’s, the chains largest, would be ready to open on June 5th, but Buc-ee’s reps have quickly sent out updates to say the opening would be delayed a little bit and are now only saying Summer 2023 once again. (Fun related note… the new Buc-ee’s location at Auburn, Alabama apparently did open this past week, as my son who goes to school there stopped in to check it out.)
On a related note, the new Buc-ee’s location in Tennessee will serve as a gateway into a future attractions area known as The 407: Gateway to Adventure. The first phase of this new development, also known as “Smoky Gap”, broke ground this past week which will include the new attraction from Puy du Fou we previously discussed. While Smoky Gap wont be ready to open until sometime in 2025, I’m sure many will be keeping an eye on the progress there from the Buc-ee’s parking lot, snacking on Beaver Nuggets and BBQ all the while.
(1/8/2023) A new attraction of sorts will soon open just to the North of Pigeon Forge, right off the main exit on I-40 most take to get into the popular tourist district. Yes, I’m talking about the new Buc-ee’s location, which will be the biggest in the world when it opens this May. With 120 gas pumps and a record breaking and ultra-massive 74,000 sqft foot store at the center, a visit to Buc-ee’s is more than just a quick fill-up for your car, but a unique experience like no other.
Buc-ee’s may have started in Texas but the chain has been growing like wildfire across the south-east US with perfectly placed stops across the US Interstate system that are almost a requirement for road-weary travelers. For first time visitors, a gasping, jaw-dropping, “Oh my GOOODDD…” serves as a standard introduction to for most upon first entering the store full of food and merchandise, and rock-star level restrooms. The experience would probably be looked upon as a comical satire on American consumerism by many foreign visitors if it wasn’t for the fact that it was just so nice and clean inside and fairly efficient service at every turn. But you know you’ll want to stop and check it out… and when you do, be sure to try a bag of the Beaver Nuggets. You’ll thank me later.
Keep in mind that all guests looking to visit the future Gateway to Adventure and Puy du Fou attraction will be passing right past Buc-ees as well, as I expect this will serve as the entrance portal to this new attraction area.
(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 Rides at The Island - High Score, Clockwork and Reverse Time, Dance Party 360
Hellbender & BirdVenture at Anakeesta
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.