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 BUZZ ----
(1/18/20) Soaky Mountain Waterpark Construction Update (MORE...)
(1/17/20) Blue Mist Mountain Resort Concept Pitched (MORE...)
(1/11/20) Anakeesta Closes On Select Days For Construction (MORE...)
(1/9/20) Pigeon Forge Chairlift... To Nowhere? (MORE...)
(1/6/20) New Ripley's Attraction Confirmed (MORE...)
Read Screamscape’s Detailed Attraction, Show and Resort Reviews Here!
General Area News - (1/17/20) I’m not sure how solid a concept this is, or what kind of development time-table they are looking at, but a new luxury resort project is being envisioned to go on the mountainside off Wears Valley Road called Blue Mist. Based on the concept art the resort will feature about 550 different room options, along with a lagoon with a night-time fountain show that looks somewhat similar to the style used at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, but scaled down for the Smoky Mountain location. There will be aerial-trams to run guests from the ground level up to the resort, which will also feature a large lagoon to swim in, with sandy beaches and cabanas.
(1/9/20) According to this Facebook page, a new attraction called the “Pigeon Forge Chairlift” is in development. While Alpine Coasters have been all the craze in the past few years, one of the oldest attractions in Gatlinburg has been their giant chairlift ride, which has now been joined by the more modern Anakeesta attraction that lies at the top of another giant chairlift. In both cases, those Chairlift attractions are quite large and take riders up a considerable height.
Now I hate to say this, as the Pigeon Forge Chairlift, the first for the city, doesn’t really have any solid information on their page just yet, but based on the piece of concept art posted, and a photo also posted that seems to show the proposed view from the top of the chairlift… the Pigeon Forge Chairlift sort of looks… well… a little pointless.
You can see both images embedded below, and based on the concept art the Chairlift will go into the narrow space between Pigeon Forge Snow and the Mountain Mile complex. There are no details about what they are planning to put at the top, if anything, but unless it is something special, it doesn’t look like the distance traveled (or height) is much to write home about. For a real world look at the actual location, assuming the concept art and image on Facebook are accurate, click here to see a street view on Google Map with Pigeon Forge Snow on the left and we can only assume the chairlift would go into the grass on the right and head up to the top of that small, not-too-distant, hill in the background.
As I said… I just hope they are planning something spectacular to install up there to give people a reason to take the Chairlift up, otherwise I’m just not sure what the point is. In fact, I’d like to argue the fact that adding a chairlift here and going in the opposite direction would make more sense, as they could take riders from the Mountain Mile down to The Island in Pigeon Forge, connecting the two sites, or just running a transportation chairlift to move riders from The Island out to a mid-way point in the massive parking lot between The Island and the LeConte Center would also be of help to move guests around more efficiently. Currently the Pigeon Forge Chairlift hopes to be ready by the end of 2020.
(1/6/20) One of our readers was able to confirm that Ripley’s did indeed buy the building that formerly housed the Cooter’s attraction in Gatlinburg. They are currently hard at work turning it into the new Ripley’s Super Fun Zone attraction. I’m told that in addition to an arcade, it will also feature a laser tag arena, indoor mini-golf and some kind of shooting gallery attraction.
(1/5/20) A reader sent in a clip of a new brochure the Ripley’s attractions in Gatlinburg are handing out advertising an “Ultimate Fun Pass” that will get you access to nine different attractions. In addition to the various attractions listed, the last one on the list is “Ripley’s Super Fun Zone!” but it is also listed as being “All New Summer 2020!”.
I’m not sure what the current state of things are, but Ripley’s had a Super Fun Zone arcade located to the right of the entrance to the Believe It Or Not Odditorium attraction. I’m not sure what they could do with this existing location to improve it, but it was also mentioned to me that the old Cooters location (located next door to the Anakeesta chair-lift building) has been closed and Cooters has moved to a new location in Pigeon Forge to become more of a museum attraction. This has led to some speculation that Ripley’s could possibly be looking to take over the former Cooter’s location in Gatlinburg, which is also quite close to Ripley’s Aquarium. If anyone knows more about this future Super Fun Zone attraction, or what is to become of the old Cooter’s location, I’d love to hear more about it.
(12/29/19) While the Noron Creek Resort website is sort of a mess right now, they have posted a few pictures of the new Treehouses under construction on their Instagram page, go jump on over to have a look. From the sound of things they started construction several months ago, so this is looking like something they you will be able to stay in by Summer 2020.
(12/29/19) I’m not sure how far along they are yet, but a developer is said to be planning a new unique resort in Gatlinburg, TN where the rooms will look like giant Treehouse style structures. According to this article the host of Animal Planet’s Treehouse Masters is behind the project which will be called “Treehouse Grove at Norton Creek”. Now from what I see, Norton Creek is a group of Investment Properties and Cabin Rentals in the Gatlinburg area, and Treehouse Grove will be a new development section to their rental properties. They have a website, but many of the graphics just aren’t loading for me, so it may still be in development, or perhaps things are changing. According to the article they had hoped to open it in Spring 2020, but I’m not even sure if they have begun work on it yet or not. Anyone know more?
(12/15/19) Way back near the start of 2019 you may recall that the World Choice Investments company, the operating partner behind Dolly Parton’s Stampede and Pirates Voyage dinner theater shows, had purchased Fee Hedrick Entertainment. Fee Hedrick owned the Comedy Barn, Hatfield & McCoy and Smoky Mountain Opry shows in Pigeon Forge, and suddenly put the majority of the family friendly live entertainment venues all under one company. At the time Dolly Parton made a statement saying that, “for now, we don’t plan to change anything”, so it has been business as usual for the former Fee Hedrick productions.
With the 2019 season coming to a close and the Smoky Mountain Opry show having transitioned into a Christmas themed show for the rest of the year, the first change for 2020 has been made as World Choice has chosen not to renew the contract for the Magic Beyond Belief with Darren Romeo show for 2020, which was performed on select nights on the Smoky Mountain Opry stage.
(11/26/19) Crave Golf Club in Pigeon Forge has a new addition with the installation of two “autonomous escape rooms”. Autonomous Escape Rooms don’t require a hidden game-master to oversee the events and are self-resetting, so a bit of a different experience from your traditional escape room attraction. One is called Mayday and involves an escape from a sinking submarine while the other is called Zombie Research Lab, where you are tasked to develop an antidote to the Zombie outbreak, each with a thirty minute time limit.
(9/25/19) According to notes in the local paper, Anakeesta will be going before the “Environmental Design Review Board” this week to pitch a “new commercial structure” for their property. It was also mentioned that the new Rowdy Bear Mountain attraction in Gatlinburg is also seeing permission for some “exterior renovations and signage”.
(9/21/19) Crave Golf Club in Pigeon Forge, TN was named as the #1 mini-golf location in America by TheTravel.com this month. The indoor / outdoor attractions offers 38 unique holes to play, including a rooftop course, all themed as if you were inside a colorful over-sized candy-land world. Crave Golf Club opened in 2017 and also features a candy store, two 30-minute escape rooms (zombie and submarine themed) and a mini-bowling alley.
(9/2/19) A few new thrill rides are now open in the Pigeon Forge area. You’ve seen my previous reports about the construction of the Mountain Monster attraction tower up on the hillside looking over the strip at The Mountain Mile shopping area, and I’m happy to report that the Mountain Monster is now open daily from 1pm to 9pm.
Meanwhile just down the hillside next to the new Lumbejack Feud show stadium, they have constructed The Flying Ox, a new hybrid of a zip-line style experience while mounted to a roller-coaster style track, that will take you on a high speed twisting journey across the skies. The Flying Ox is now open at the complex along with previously open attractions like the High Woodsman Challenge ropes course, Timber Towers controlled jump towers and the Loggersports area.
(7/30/19) The latest new attraction at Anakeesta in Gatlinburg, TN is nearly ready to open. Anakeesta tells us that their new Ridge Ramblers, a 45-passenger military transporters, will roll out to the public by late August as an alternative method of reaching the mountainside Anakeesta attraction area, for those who may not care to ride the Chondola aerial tram ride. With your ticket to visit Anakeesta you ride ride either the Chondola or the new Ridge Ramblers at no extra cost. The Ramblers will load at the ground level just behind the Chondola station and take guests on a scenic guided tour along a forested road up the mountain.
Each Ridge Rambler vehicle weighs 17 tons (fully loaded), holds 45-passengers, and are 35 feet long and stand nearly 14 feet tall. In their former life, they were known as 5-Ton M923-A2 Military trucks.
(7/28/19) The local news reports say that a closed and rundown theater attraction located at the corner of Parkway and Cate Road will soon be torn down to make way for a new development project that will include a restaurant and retail shopping complex. The last production to use the theater was said to be a Chinese acrobat show.
???? - ZipCoaster at Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster - (11/24/18) ZipFlyer announced at IAAPA that they would be building a new 3,800 foot ZipCoaster in Pigeon Forge at the site of the Smokey Mountain Alpine Coaster that should open sometime in 2019. According to ZipCoaster the plan is to essentially build the new ZipCoaster experience in the air directly over the existing Alpine Coaster layout.
I’ve posted a sample video showing off what the ZipCoaster technology looks like below, and under that I video I shot of the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster when it opened in 2014 to give you an idea of what the location and terrain will look like.
???? - August Moon Indoor Drive-In - Proposed - (10/11/19) I have to admit, I was excited by the idea of the August Moon Drive-In Theater experience pitched for Pigeon Forge. I’m still in love with the idea, but unfortunately it seems the attraction designer had a parting of ways with their primary investor and have now taken to Kickstarter to fund $50,000 needed to complete the attraction designs and engineering, and make it ready to present to new investors as a ready-to-go concept with a following ready to jump at the opportunity to visit.
With 21 more days to go to raise the funds, as of this writing they have raised $5,615 of the $50,000. Make the jump to read all the details about this unique attraction experience concept and see if it is something you’d like to back.
(11/28/18) We've mentioned the Mountain Monster coming to the Mountain Mile retail and entertainment complex at Pigeon Forge in 2019, but at IAAPA we noticed something new had been added to the complex… the first August Moon indoor "drive-in” theater attraction. Previously it looked as if the first August Moon was sent to be built in Nashville, but now even the official website has been updated to say that it will open in Pigeon Forge in 2019.
If you missed our previous report on exactly what August Moon is, I’ll give you the basic rundown again on this indoor "Drive-In" Theater, Bar and Grille attraction. Keep in mind that it is "Drive-In” in theme only, as you will enter a large 40,000 sqft air supported dome structure. Inside will be a $10 million indoor themed environment that will feature what appears to be a classic drive-in theater, complete with classic cars (hopefully all convertibles) already parked in front of the screen, a simulated starry night sky above, along with fake trees, faux fireflies, grassy areas, tables, along with a full service restaurant and bar, with "artisanal takes" on great genre style burgers and milkshakes.
If sitting in a car isn’t your thing there will also be other luxury seating options, including couches in private booths, tree swings and assorted stadium-style seats scattered about. They also promise to offer the "largest non-IMAX movie screen in North America", and may also feature live performers who can interact with the audience before and after the films and possible interactions with live projections on the screen as well.
I love this idea and can't wait to see it first hand, as it will take your typical family trip to the movies and turn it into a special experience.
Summer 2020 - Soaky Mountain Waterpark - (1/18/20) A few construction pictures of the new Soaky Mountain waterpark project near the Wilderness at the Smokies waterpark resort in Sevierville were posted by KnoxNews. Slide towers and building framework is already up, and the first sections of slide fiberglass look to have begun installation as well as they shoot for a Summer 2020 opening timeline.
(11/7/19) I’m a bit confused by this latest development to the Soaky Mountain waterpark project that is under construction in Sevierville. According to a news article sent my way the construction of the new waterpark hit a “financial speed bump” and Wilderness Resorts was worried that the project may no longer be financially feasible. With the city’s help they have drawn up a pilot agreement where the city will collect a larger sum of sales tax than normal for bond repayment in exchange for financial aid to help complete the park’s construction.
While this is good news, I do find myself scratching my head and wondering exactly what took place to cause cost overruns to soar to much that Wilderness Resorts even had to consider throwing in the towel on the new waterpark after construction had already started.
(8/7/19) A new video preview showing off what the Soaky Mountain Waterpark will look like when it opens in 2020 can be found below.
(7/12/19) According to various news reports the owners of Wilderness at the Smokies will open a new outdoor waterpark near the resort in 2020. The new 50-acre park will be called Soaky Mountain and be located just down the street from the Wilderness resort. Groundbreaking is to be held on August 6th and the park is said to include a 35,000 sqft wave pool, a Double FlowRider, a “wave river”, several slides, a couple of large family raft slides, a pool with an inflatable obstacle course, a water coaster and kids water play areas.
The waterpark will be seasonal (roughly May through September) and while pricing has not been set, it does not sound like it will be free for Wilderness Resorts guests, though they may be offered heavily discounted tickets.
2020 - Anakeesta Expansion - (1/11/20) Anakeesta’s current $6 million expansion will feature a new observation tower and double the attraction’s dining capacity with the addition of a nearly 300-seat smokehouse and brewery restaurant. I’m told to keep an eye out for a new live-webcam to document the construction progress here starting in late January.
It is also worth mentioning that due to intense construction, Anakeesta will be cutting back their hours of operation from now through late February. As such, Anakeesta will remain closed Mondays through Thursdays, but will open with regular hours Fri, Sat and Sundays through February, but they will also be open on the Jan 20 and Feb. 17th holidays as well.
(12/12/19) According to this video report from the Gatlinburg area, they head on up to the Anakeesta attraction decorated for Christmas and spot a construction area for a new building on the way that will hold a new glass enclosed restaurant and brewery and about a minute later they also find a sign talking about a new ‘Vista Garden Observation Tower’ that will stand 55 feet above the Vista Gardens. From the artwork, it looks like there will be a giant enclosed slide that will spiral down the tower to the bottom. Nearby will also be a new ‘Family Outdoor water Play’ area. All of these are expected to be complete by Summer 2020, though it doesn’t look like very much construction has been done yet on any of them, so these dates could slip.
2021 - Flying Theater at The Island at Pigeon Forge - (7/4/19) BlooLoop has a few more details on the new Flying Theater attraction coming to Pigeon Forge. According to the new report this project will include a long term operating agreement and partnership with Dynamic Attractions for the attraction. This co-venture will be called Smoky Mountain Flyers, LLC and was created with equal $4 million investments from Island Flyers LLC and High Express Holdings (US) Inc. for the development and operation of the attraction. It was also mentioned that another subsidiary of Empire Industries (who owns Dynamic) named Dynamic Entertainment Group Ltd. has a 30-month option agreement to purchase all of the ownership shares of High Express Holdings. It is an interesting development that puts Dynamic into a new position as a co-owner of an attraction and not just the hardware provider. Empire says they will be looking to add more partnership opportunities like this with other world-class tourist sites across the world going forward.
As of right now the time-table for the new 39-seat Flying Theater attraction has been reset, and is now looking to open in March 2021 at The Island in Pigeon Forge location.
(2/23/19) A deal to build a new $20 million Flying Theater attraction from Dynamic Attraction was announced for The Island in Pigeon Forge, set to open in 2020. The attraction will feature a custom film to depict the natural beauty and landscape of Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains region, enhanced through in-theater special effects like wind, mist and even scents. The exact location at The Island was not given, only that it would be near the site’s current Smoky Mountain Wheel and fountain show attractions. If I had to guess, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it take over that tiny parking lot location between the Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen restaurant and the rest of The Island that has always seemed a bit out of place.
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.