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 ----
(8/3/16) Would You Believe a Third Alpine Coaster Incident? (MORE...)
(7/26/16) Goat Coaster Status Update (MORE...)
(7/14/16) Another Alpine Coaster Accident in the Pigeon Forge Area (MORE...)
(7/13/16) Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster Accident Update (MORE...)
(7/13/16) New Waterpark On The Way To Pigeon Forge Resort (MORE...)
Read Screamscape’s Detailed Attraction, Show and Resort Reviews Here!
General Area News - (8/3/16) Would you believe that a third incidence has taken place in the Pigeon Forge area on an Alpine Coaster? Apparently an incident took place on the Smokey Mountain Alpine Coaster on Saturday where one rider "stopped on the track out of fear" and was struck from behind by the next rider, possibly resulting in some kind of back injury. The attraction was ordered shut down on Monday and will remain closed for inspection (already complete) and to await permission to reopen again.
Unlike the other accidents, this one seems a bit more normal, as you can find a few videos online from other Alpine coasters around the world where one car bumps into a slower moving car in front of them. Of course this isn't supposed to be possible on all of these rides however, as I believe the Smokey Mountain Alpine Coaster features the same automated proximity braking ability that the Goats on The Roof version has, and I've got a good example of exactly how this works on video already posted below when my son got a little too close to the car holding his mother and sister, resulting in his car coming to an almost complete stop.
Assuming the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster features the same auto-brake system, the collision reported really shouldn't have been possible. Anyone know more?
(7/26/16) Screamsape has been told that the Goat Coaster at Goats on the Roof has been given the green light to reopen and resume operations.
(7/14/16) The local news reports that the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster had been given permission to reopen by the state on Wednesday. The cart involved in the accident has been taken out of service and the staff have all been retrained on safety procedures. They have also confirmed that the accident took place at the end of the ride as the man controlling the speed of the cart failed to slow down when entering the “flagged area at full speed despite warnings to slow down.” At this point the automated braking would have kicked in, causing the woman seated in front of him to be thrown from the ride because she failed to put on her seatbelt restraint, and the staff failed to check that she had done so before allowing them to ride.
Now, with all this out of the way would you believe there was another accident nearby, this time on the Goat Coaster that also took place on the same day (July 3)? According to this news report a rider on that alpine coaster suffered from a broken arm after they "lost control and put an arm outside of the ride," which was how the official accident report described it. The owner of the Goats of the Roof attraction failed to report the accident until after they were notified by the state to shut down the ride and is now facing a fine for failing to report the injury "in a timely manner". The Goats on the Roof ride has since been inspected and found to have no faults, but the ride is still closed while they determine what can be done to prevent this from happening again in the future.
(7/13/16) While the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster is still closed the news and focus of the investigation thus far is finally focused on what happened with the seat belt of the woman who was thrown. At the time of the accident, they have determined that the woman's seatbelt was not buckled, and that through security camera video they also determined that her belt was not checked in the station before being dispatched out onto the ride course. The operators also say that they have not seen any footage of the woman removing her belt during the ride itself.
If all of the above remain to be true throughout the investigation, this may be a serious case of operator error for failing to ensure that all the safety belts were in place before sending them on their ride. Also, according to a Screamscape readers who has a little more knowledge of the safety systems themselves, they tell us that once locked and dispatched a rider would not be able to unbuckle their safety belt even if they wanted to until the cart returns to the unload area.
(7/11/16) The Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster (Note: this is the shorter one in Gatlinburg near Hillbilly Golf, not the Ober Gatlinburg one, or the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster or Goat Coaster in Pigeon Forge) is currently closed after a rider somehow was thrown from a cart and suffered multiple injuries to wrists, knee, head and ribs on July 3rd. According to the article, it was a woman who was sitting in the front seat of the two on the cart, which are able to hold two riders.
What is bothersome from the reports I've read is that nothing has been said about just how she got out of the seatbelt. The Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster is a Wiegand model, just like the Smoky Mountain and Goat Coaster attractions in nearby Pigeon Forge, and the carts have two belts, an over the shoulder car style seatbelt for the rear-seat rider (which is also the only seat used for single rider operation) and is a second rider is on the cart they are seated in the front and use a seat-belt that goes across the lap only, but the riders are also held in place from excessive lateral movement by the legs of the rear-rider. (There are some great shots of the rider and belt positions on the Weigand website.) So I'm really curious how this woman was thrown from the ride unless she released her seat-belt in mid-ride somehow.
The article goes on to say that a 3rd party inspector has already looked over the ride and determined that it was "in proper working order at the time". However the attraction has "to achieve statutory compliance requirements" which wont happen until sometime later this week, so until then it will remain closed. According to a Facebook post, a sensor issue was detected during the inspection, likely not part of the issue, but they have to wait for a part to arrive to repair it before they can reopen.
(4/11/16) A new attraction in Pigeon Forge has opened a few weeks ago called Top Jump, and I'm told that one of the features of this attraction is the largest "Clip 'n Climb" installation in the USA. You can find a new video showing it off here or watch it down below, showing off the many types of surfaces guests can climb on at this new indoor attraction.
What else does Top Jump have? According to the official website the facility also offers 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 from Gatlinburg.
(3/3/15) Thanks to one of our readers for finding this. A graphic on the middle right side of the Southeast Cinemas website confirms a location and shows off artwork of the new theater that is "Coming Soon" to Pigeon Forge, TN.
(3/2/15) Screamscape sources tell us that a large movie-theater project may have begun construction on the North end of Pigeon Forge near the RainForest Adventures Discovery Zoo attraction, which is kind of hidden behind the long closed NASCAR Cafe building in the Governor's Crossing area. Anyone know more? Click to see Map Link.
2016 - Dolly Parton’s Lumberjack Adventure Dinner & Show - (5/17/16) The new Dolly Parton's Lumberjack Adventure Dinner & Show attraction in Pigeon Forge (replacing the Lumberback Fued) is now set to reopen this Friday, May 20th, following a $25 million investment into the show to create an all new show and dining experience.
"Parton serves as Executive Producer of the show and wrote the romantic song, “Something More,” which helps tell the story of this Smoky Mountain-themed adventure. During the show, astonished guests will marvel at the skill of world-class entertainers who thrill audiences with daring feats of acrobatic ability both in the sky and on stage. Numerous other performers display their tremendous talents through axe juggling, speed climbing and an assortment of unbelievable acts."
"While the story was created in-house by her long-time collaborator Ken McCabe, Parton has assembled some of the best choreographers, set designers, lighting and sound consultants and composers in the world to create an experience never before seen in the Smokies. More than half of the total investment was allocated to make the extraordinary new show come to life for guests. A state-of-the-art sound system, lighting and special effects help immerse the audience in what is a completely new experience."
The old show building was completely gutted and rebuilt for this all new dinner show adventure in Pigeon Forge. Speaking of the dinner... you'll be given a Lumberjack Feast, consisting of "creamy timber slaw and a buttery, homemade lumberjack biscuit followed by campfire fried chicken, smokehouse pulled pork, homestyle smashed taters, sawmill gravy and fried skillet corn. The meal concludes with Lumberjack Adventure’s own specialty dessert. Unlimited Pepsi, tea and coffee also are part of the meal."
(1/23/16) Dolly Parton has announced that the new name for the Lumberjack Feud dinner show theater attraction when it reopens in May 2016 will be Dolly Parton's Lumberjack Adventure Dinner & Show.
“I’m truly excited to be working on a new show for families to enjoy while they are in town,” Parton said. “We did a lot of work to come up with the name of the new show and I think we found the perfect fit. My creative team has been working to produce an exciting show which will showcase the amazing competitive skills of our cast. We have a few surprises that will certainly make this an ‘adventure’ for every member of the family.”
Construction work is well underway at this point and they say there will be some new exciting renovations guests will notice for both the interior and exterior of the attraction. They also mention that plans are in place to remove the former Regency Inn hotel and use the site for additional parking for the attraction, as well as make it much more visible from the Parkway. In addition to a new show, guests can expect a new and improved meal to be served as well, one "truly fit for a lumberjack."
A new website will soon launch for the attraction at: lumberjackadventure.com.
(6/15/15) Dolly Parton has just announced the acquisition of The Lumberjack Feud Dinner Show in Pigeon Forge, TN. If you haven't see it yet, Screamscape just reviewed this show just a couple of months ago. According to the press release, the plan is to lease the theater back to the current operator for the rest of the 2015 season. Following that, the new owners will make major renovations to the facility and additions to the show (adding more action and comedy elements) for a new version of the show to open in Spring 2016.
2017 - Country Cascades Waterpark & Expansion - Confirmed - (7/13/16) A video was posted to Facebook by the Pigeon Forge Chamber of Commerce at the groundbreaking for the Country Cascades Resort's new Waterpark and expansion, part of a $10 million investment from the Collier family. The project will include a new hotel tower (Summit Tower with 98 family suites) as well as a 30,000 sq. ft. Cascades outdoor water park. Look for the expansion to be complete and open in Spring 2017.
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.
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 - 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. Details and ticket prices can be found here at the official site.
Screamscape Reviews - A collection of our most recent area attraction and resort reviews
Margaritaville Island Hotel (2015)
The Comedy Barn (2015)
Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show (2015)
The Lumberjack Feud (2015)
The Tomb (2014)
Wilderness at the Smokies (2014)
Margaritaville Island Hotel - Review by Lance Hart
(3/23/15) Welcome to the fourth and final installment about the great and fairly new things to see and do in the Pigeon Forge, TN area this year. While the three previous chapters were all about your evening entertainment options, today Screamscape takes a look at a great new resort that just opened a few months ago… the Margaritaville Island Hotel built at the very heart of The Island in Pigeon Forge.
While most hotels in Pigeon Forge are just about what you would expect from a generic hotel stay, the Margaritaville Island Hotel strives to be different, offering a very high quality experience while bringing the relaxing and laid back Jimmy Buffet / Margaritaville attitude to the Smoky Mountains. This is presented to you right away as you pull your car up and are met by friendly staff in Hawaiian style shirts to help you unload your car. Walking down the path to the lobby you may catch glimpse of guests hanging out by the outdoor fire-pit… and keep in mind that they do offer S’mores kits in the lobby! Once inside you’ll find a relaxing room with big chairs to hang out in by a huge indoor fireplace, a great little coffee shop with bakery items to the left, and the pathway to the Latitudes bar just ahead, to the right of the front desk. Oh… and if you were wondering, the official Margaritaville restaurant is just across the driveway from the hotel, so you can’t miss it.
While the hotel does have free self-parking, it can be a bit of a walk, so I’d highly recommend using the $10 / night Valet Parking service. The staff is great, and you can call down from your room just before you walk out to have them bring your car up front anytime. Just tell them you want to use it when you check in and they’ll add it onto your account. Margaritaville Island Hotel has several different room options to choose from, which you can see from their official website, but to make the most sense of these options you’ll have to understand a bit more about The Island in Pigeon Forge itself.
While The Island in Pigeon Forge started out as a very different style project before stalling out during the economic downfall and changing owners and developers several times over the years, what they have now built and open is really far better than what was originally planned for the site. The entire property is visually anchored by The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel, standing 200 feet tall and covered with a great lighting package that makes it visible throughout most of the Pigeon Forge tourist corridor, day or night. Surrounding the Wheel is a well landscaped entertainment zone that offers retail, dining and unique entertainment offerings.
In addition to a couple of smaller rides, The Island currently also offers Arcade City (a large and well run arcade), the Interactive 7D Adventure ride, as well as Island Mirror Maze (which also offers a Laser Maze and Atomic Rush). There are plenty of small shops to browse throughout The Island (with many more on the way) including stores for sweets, toys, puzzles and even a large Build-A-Bear. For the adults, The Island also offers a brand new location for Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine which can show you how “shine” is made on site, as well as give you an extensive taste test of the various fun flavors and variants they've come up with. It is worth mentioning that Ole Smoky has been cooking up some fun seasonal flavors that are good. During my visit they had a tasty Butterscotch flavor, an Orange creamsicle flavored version and the best of all was an incredible Pumpkin Pie flavored one. New flavors are always in the works, and I’ve heard about previous limited runs of Eggnog and Cinnamon flavors, so you never know what kind of treat you may be in for. (note: Ole Smoky also offers a pretty kick butt BBQ sauce that has become a favorite in my family… so keep your eyes open for that too.)
Restaurants is also a place where The Island shines bright, serving as the local site for popular eateries like Mellow Mushroom, Timberwood Grill, Dick’s Last Resort, Margaritaville (of course!) and coming very soon in 2015 is Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen.
Now picture the Margaritaville Island Hotel built in the heart of this complex with all the rooms built up on the second floor, either overlooking the shopping corridor of The Island, or with a River view to the rear, or a Fountain View on the front side, where your rooms overlook a small lake area full of colorful lit fountains that dance to music throughout the day and into the evening. The hotel also features a rooftop pool and jacuzzi area with rentable cabanas, and nearby there is also a large fitness center.
The rooms styles at the Margaritaville Island Hotel vary by layout as well as view options (see the official website to choose) but each comes with a unique feature I’ve never seen anywhere else… an official Margaritaville Frozen Concoction Maker in each room. For those who are chomping at the bit to make your own in-rooms Margaritas, I do have an important tip for you. Local laws don’t allow for the sale of hard alcohol in Pigeon Forge itself (other than special rules that allow the local Moonshine places to run as long as they make it on site) so you’ll probably either need to bring a bottle of your favorite tequila from home, or stop by one of the liquor stores in Gatlinburg. There was a card in the room about how you can make a Moonshine based beverage as well if you just want to walk over to Ole Smoky. Either way, you can sit out on the balcony and enjoy your beverage of choice from the comfort of your room… an experience made especially more cool if you have a Fountain View room to provide you with an awesome bit of scenery.
Other fantastic features of the rooms are the attractive stacked-stone fireplaces, comfortable beds and chairs, and perhaps my favorite thing of all was the dual-head rain showers. Seriously… I could have spent an hour in the shower alone. It is also worth mentioning that the complimentary bathroom items provided are also well known brand items and not just generic. Each of the rooms also come with free WiFI, a small wet bar with a fridge and microwave, a Keurig coffee maker, lighten mirrors, hair dryer, alarm clock/iPod dock and a 40” flat screen HDTV. The later has an assortment of plugs and inputs in the wall for if you want to stream content to the TV from your own laptop, tablet or smart-phone, so don’t forget to bring along a spare HDMI cable.
Whatever your needs are, trust me, you will be extremely comfortable at the Margaritaville Island Hotel. In fact, this brought to mind another great realization during my stay here… that there is so much to see and do nearby, you can actually just leave the car and walk to a great number of things. I’m not just talking about Margaritaville next door or the other features of The Island, but you are within easy walking distance of other great entertainment options like the Lumberjack Feud show, the Comedy Barn show, Happy Days Diner, Stages West western wear, TGI Fridays, Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride, along with many other tourist shops and eateries. In the past I always found myself driving up and down the parkway, several times a day on most visits… but on this trip I found that I was perfectly fine relaxing either at the Margaritaville Island Hotel, at The Island, or taking a stroll over for a show in the evening at a nearby theater instead… completely car free.
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 Lumberjack Feud - review by Lance Hart
(2/13/15) This is Part 1 of a short series of upcoming articles that will be posted here about my visit to Pigeon Forge last week during the “off season” as well as going as a “couple” for a weekend away with your loved one, and leaving the kids at home. The perfect thing to reflect upon for the upcoming Valentine's Day.
We decided to visit in the Off Season… which is essentially the period of time from early January through to late March when Dollywood decides to close down for the colder winter months. But with more attractions, hotels, shops and restaurants in the area than you can possibly hope to see in a single visit, Pigeon Forge still has plenty to do. In fact, it can make for quite the romantic getaway location for couples in the looking for something new. When planning your trip, it is often a good idea to decide where you want to take your loved one out for a special dinner. Fortunately Pigeon Forge has far more than just chain restaurants to choose from, as the strip features a healthy selection of Dinner Theater venues. Each will provide you not only with a meal, but also with some great entertainment for the evening.
For our first night we decided to visit The Lumberjack Feud, one of the area's newest show theaters and located right in the middle of the strip, just in front of The Island at Pigeon Forge. Like most dinner shows, guests will be taken through an entry process that involves some character interaction and a quick pose for a photo that they will offer to sell you later on. And as is common in most of these kind of shows, the audience is divided into cheering for one of two different teams that will compete in a series of challenging events throughout the night. However, unlike most other shows, the outcome of these 18 events did not appear to be scripted. They were real lumberjack style sporting events, where the winner was typically the first side to chop through a big log with an axe or saw, get the most points by throwing an axe at a target, climbing up and down a tall pole, or to be the last man standing during the log roll event.
While The Lumberjack Feud tells a fictional tale of two logging families (the McGraws and the Dawsons) who battle for the rights to win the last logging rights in the Great Smoky Mountains in 1930, the show employs real ESPN lumberjack (and lumberjill) competitive athletes, who give it their all and show off their true lumberjack skills in an example of some true competition each night. Instead of one side throwing a competition or two to even things up by the end of the night for neck and neck finish, that duty is actually given to the character of Ranger Black, who is in charge of the various events and like any true sports official, will make a few very bad calls throughout the night about who beat who, which actually makes you want to cheer for your team even harder when they get wronged by a bad DQ call.
It's a great concept that keeps these lumberjack athletes employed year round while still being able to keep themselves in competitive shape for when they do leave to compete in a sporting event. Oh... and I would be remiss if I did not mention the cutest performers of the night... the TimberDogs! Yes, man's best friend is also part of this show as each of the family's TimberDogs get in on the competition action with their own athletic events where they swim, race and jump over 7 feet in the air!
Of course, in addition to lots of great timber falling action, there are many great musical and comedy moments as well as the sawdust settles, often between the camp cook and Ranger Black while they are setting up for the next event.
The Lumberjack Feud is a great example at a show trying to be a little different than all the rest, in many of the right ways. Another fine example of this is the admission options... because just in case you are not in the mood for a meal and just want to take in the show, the $10 million, 34,000 square foot arena was designed to not only have 650 dinner show seats, but also in the top level features 200 movie-theater style show-only seats which are available for purchase at a lower cost than the full dinner show price.
Overall the show is well produced and comes off as not only exciting to watch, but very enjoyable for guests of all ages, featuring a little something for everyone. It is also fun to watch the kids faces light up when after each of the 18 events, the winner team picks someone out of the audience to give either a freshly cut lumberjack cookie (timber slice) to, or the remains of a freshly cut log. It is simple, but the kids love it... and if they bring them down after the show, they can have the lumberjacks and lumberjills autograph it and pose for pictures for a one of a kind keepsake.
That said... if I had to choose the one and only aspect to be critical of, I would have to say that the food portion of the show is the weakest link here. Don't get me wrong... the food was good... I just didn't feel like the portion sizes were the same as what you would get from other shows I've been to. It is worth noting that during my visit, they did tell us that they were still serving the special winter meal menu (Nov. 1 to Mar. 1), which included oven roasted Turkey, Baked Ham, Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Sweet Potato Casserole, Buttered Corn, Dinner rolls and a Hot Apple Cobbler. During the rest of the year it's my understanding that the meal is based around Slow Roasted Chicken and Pork instead.
Despite this one shortcoming, I do plan on coming back to see the show again in the future, and bringing my kids along with this time, as they would love it. For full details on how you can visit The Lumberjack Feud, visit their official website.
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.