Hottest Thing on 2 Wheels: Your Summertime Segway to Fall!

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Hot off the presses! After checking into your rental cabin in Pigeon Forge, you must check out this new touring opportunity freshly opened on Old Mill Street just off the Parkway in Pigeon Forge. Since mid-July, Segway Rental and Sales of Pigeon Forge has been introducing customers to the unique experience of exploring while standing on an elevated platform between two wheels. Even jaded teenagers enjoy this new way to cruise: riders minimum 14 years old and 95 pounds are eligible to drive here!

The Segway Personal Transporter tour is prefaced with a safety video review, helmet fitting, and basic skill practice to familiarize the rider with balancing and navigating the machines. Though some novices at first fear they may be able to crash by leaning too far forward or back, the equipment is self-balanced by internal gyroscopes. These stand-up rolling “chariots” are quite straightforward to operate, as long as the rider is capable of maintaining a grip.
The tour-guided route circles the Parkway, Teaster Lane, the Greenway and Patriot Park, based on time constraints, with the entire experience lasting about 90 minutes. Tours begin on the hour, every 2 hours at various times throughout the day, depending on availability.
So give new meaning to “rolling on the river”, and “come sail away” on a Segway. Add some unique fun to that “what I did on summer vacation” essay. Trust me, you will be glad you did. If you like, you can also purchase one at this location, and take home a most “out-standing” souvenir!
Find more details at:

Get Your Game on at the Old Mill Smoky Mountain Cornhole Tournament

You’ve already made a good choice for family time together by selecting a cabin rental in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. How about some friendly family competition in the Great Smoky Mountains? Do you have family members who just live to compete and win? Here’s an event for you.
As a kid, did you ever play the tic-tac-toe game Toss Across with beanbags? Cornhole is a game that requires those same skills. Think of a cross between Skeeball (try to hit the hole at the top for points), horseshoes (toss the distance and target hitting scores), and bocce lawn bowling (strategize to knock your competition out). Played in a flat area on two inclined boards, it seems deceptively simple to win with simple accuracy. Well loved in this part of the country, you will find the game boards decorated in every theme, including your favorite collegiate football team (tailgate pasttime, anyone?).
The Old Mill is hosting their 5th Annual Cornhole Tournament for charity on Saturday, August 2, where any two-player team can register to play and win prizes. There are both competitive and amateur divisions to level the playing field. The competitive folk are the ones with their own custom corn-filled beanbags, oh yes. Here’s the link to register your team:  http://www.old-mill.com/about/events

Come play or just watch, and enjoy the simple fun that this event offers. Also take time to explore this fantastic historic destination, which hosts several events throughout the calendar year. I have blogged before about the many amenities that the Old Mill complex offers. http://www.volunteercabinrentals.com/smoky-mountain-blog/old-mill-heritage-day-belongs-on-your-bucket-list/

For an idea of how some play this game (I think these guys would be in the competitive division!), here’s a short video.


We are glad that your family is squeezing the most fun out of summer before it is gone once again. Enjoy!

Come Get Soaked! Over 10 Insider Tips and Packing List for Splash Country Water Park

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So you are headed out of your Pigeon Forge rental cabin on the way to some serious water play at Dollywood’s Splash Country. Here are some ideas before you go to make your play day the best it can be. In addition, I have also included a packing list so that you will not overlook a vital item for your day’s enjoyment.

1. When to go: The park’s hours are 10 am to 7 pm up to school opening time in August, when closing begins to occur at 6 pm. Check the online calendar here for your planned trip.

http://www.dollywood.com/waterpark/calendar.aspx

 There are two options in my opinion. Arrive early about 20 minutes before the park opens, and you will be able to park close to the entrance. Then head immediately to the back of the park to stash your stuff in a spot that will be shady most of the day, either in a quiet corner as a home base, or near the attraction that you believe you will use the most. Then take off to the most popular slide attractions before the park begins to fill with people. You have about an hour to 90 minutes before lines begin to lengthen. The other option is to arrive about 3:30 or so (arrive after 3 and next day free!). The first wave of morning people will be exiting, and the ride lines decrease along with the people volume as the day turns to evening. This is also a good plan if you just want to swim and relax after sweating all day at Dollywood. You then can attack the slides full force the following day after a solid night’s rest.
2. Buy some extra shade if it’s important to you. Canopies offer 65 feet of shade, 2 chairs, and a locker. Retreats feature 200 square feet of shade with drapes, a TV and locker, dining seating, 2 lounge chairs, and “room service” phone for snacks and drinks. Review these options online, decide if the cost is feasible for your family, and reserve a spot close to your favorite attraction within the park. We like the Cascades pool area since there are littles in our friends crowd, it is quieter, and tucked away in a corner. 

http://www.dollywood.com/waterpark/Rentals.aspx

3. Check for discounts. While online, check the Special Offers section. Usually $10 off each admission for a family of four is readily available, along with group (15+) discounts, combination deals, and 30% off for active and retired military. For the most playtime for your money, I’ve already mentioned the “come after 3, next day free” standing offer, which Dollywood theme park also promotes.
4. Safety first. The water park offers and strongly recommends free life vests for use by weak and non-swimmers. Water shoes are a good idea for traveling between attractions as the pavement can become burning hot. A buddy system for children to not be alone in any pool is a wise choice, and a check-in system (say, after every three rides) for older children is also a good practice. The first aid station is located near Big Bear Plunge, and always has medical personnel present when the park is open.

5. Choose food wisely. Although Splash Country states that no food should be brought into the park, we have always brought in small quantities of snacks with no protest from employees. The park food is also decently palatable, and relatively reasonably priced. Check the prices before ordering, though. A large fruit cup for $5 seems reasonable; $2.50 for a snack bag of chips? Not so much.

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6. Rain checks are available. If your day is cut short by severe weather and closings at the park, just ask for a rain check, which will be granted. Rain checks are valid until the end of the summer season.
7. Buy more play time by skipping the line. On extremely busy days, you may consider the Time Saver Pass wristband. Consider what attractions are most appealing to your family, and whether paying extra to ride more quickly is the right option for your crowd.
8. Be secure and rent a locker. Unless you want to park someone with your stuff, you will need a secure place to keep a wallet, keys, and all those extra things that come into the park with you. To be honest, we have never had any issues with any of our bags chairside. But if you want to roam freely unencumbered, or would be concerned about your belongings while playing in the water, a locker rental offers peace of mind, both safe and dry. There are both normal and family-size units available.
9. Choose the right tube for floating fun. One of our mom friends says, “Choose fluffy over spongy” when grabbing the right inner tube from the stack available. An under inflated tube makes for a tougher ride, and is more easily flipped in the waves.
10. Know your fear factor before you go. No one has fun if a child becomes traumatized by his first large water ride of the day. Gauge what is appropriately thrilling, based on your children’s courage and swimming capabilities. When in doubt, opt out. Better to have a good time on fewer and milder rides than a bad memory (or even potential injury) from the one that was too much. Both courtesy clerks and life guard attendants can answer any questions you may have regarding ride requirements and experiences.
11. Though you won’t want to pack everything under the sun (pun intended), being prepared makes for a better, and usually less costly, day trip. Here is a list of items that you may consider taking for use while at Splash Country. A good attitude is the best thing to bring: hope you enjoy a truly great day together!
Tickets Adult ID/License Kid ID/picture Lanyards  Cash or Credit Card Cell phone Waterproof Case Waterproof Watch Waterproof Camera
Ziploc bags for clothes Swimsuits Flip flops Water Shoes Water Toys Hats Sunglasses with Headstraps Goggles Earplugs Swim Diapers Dry Clothes/Underwear
Beach Bag Beach Towels Coverups Collapsible cooler Water bottle Snacks Books Sunscreen Sunscreen Lip Balm Insect Repellent Epipen Wet wipes
Hand sanitizer Bandaids Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen Kleenex Body wash/shampoo Hairbrush Wet items bag

New Eats of Note in Pigeon Forge: New and Soon-to-Come Restaurants to Try

Now that you have unpacked everyone and everything into your cabin rental in Pigeon Forge, your crowd has “gotta eat”. Maybe you have planned to grill out a family meal on the deck and enjoy the view. But if you are coming into town, there are a few new interesting choices to consider for a fun meal out. 

Cheddar’s Casual Cafe opened at 3240 Parkway in 2013, and is usually quite busy. An American food chain restaurant from Texas, it has large portions at reasonable prices. Nothing fancy, but usually good, with variety so that all can find something to enjoy. Check out this link for location directions and their downloadable menu:

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Hard Rock Cafe moved its location from Gatlinburg, and is now found between Wonderworks and Smoky Mountain Opry Theater at 2050 Parkway, Pigeon Forge. Opening on May 20th,  its well-known music memorabilia venue and classic American food is a welcome addition, and now much easier to access with ample free parking at the door.
The Island in Pigeon Forge entertainment complex opened in 2013, and is filling up tenant space not previously leased. Locate the “cannot miss even if you try” lighted ferris wheel and you have found it. This is a destination spot to explore itself, but I wanted to provide a few eating options here.

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Poynor’s Pommes Frites is definitely worth the trip. This is simple German food: brats and fries. But, oh, the fries: thick cut, Belgium fries with multiple sauces to dip them in, equals a fabulous indulgence. Then everyone can share a spoonful of Spaghetti Ice, a most fun dessert that is a trompe l’oeil food masterpiece. The picture above is not a pasta plate, but a creative sundae of vanilla ice cream, strawberry puree, shaved white chocolate, chocolate candies and sugar cookie sticks. It’s a fun memory-making spot to eat.
Timberwood Grill is another restaurant at the Island, which wraps a mountain theme around solidly tasty American food. A few creative menu items are offered, which you can investigate here: https://timberwoodgrillpf.com/menu/

 
Coming soon! There are several other locations to explore at the Island, and the construction of Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen restaurant is also underway and slated to open late summer 2014. More on that later this year.

 
So, make sure and visit your old favorites (or ask us here at VCR for ours), and give one of these new businesses a try. Let us know what you think!

Urgent Dollywood Update: 3 Must Do’s for the First Visit of the Season

Dollywood opens this season on Saturday, March 22. Let’s prepare before the family gathers by making a “what’s new” shortlist for you to visit at the theme park.

First, for the adults, hurry and enjoy the multiculturalism that is the always popular Festival of Nations. This year brings several new shows with a wide selection of music: Swiss yodeling and alphorn playing, South American harp music, Colombian, Celtic, Gaelic, and Russian music among others.

Most impressive and visually mesmerizing is the “Mother Africa” performance that has toured internationally before arriving at Dollywood. The show features music, dancing and acrobatics in traditional styles from across the entire African continent. Not just your average modern dance drumbeating, this is a true cultural experience that shouldn’t be missed.

My vote for most unusual musical performance is an Italian grand piano act with ballerina on top that will be driving its music throughout the park during the day. There’s so much more to the festival, like a miniature world showcase of art, music, dance and food (of course), from over 30 countries. My only regret is that it is short-lived: Festival of Nations ends April 21, so hurry to enjoy it all before it’s gone until next year.

Next, really fun for all, from grandfather to great-grandchild, is the new family roller coaster, the FireChaser Express. At top speed of 35 miles-per-hour, this firefighter-themed coaster is still mild enough for all to enjoy, but has a few twists (pun intended) to make even coaster fiends smile. The ride shoots forward and eventually pitstops in a fireworks shed, before “exploding” backwards for a shorter, but different backwards trajectory to end the ride in the original boarding station. If you have never ridden a coaster backwards, this is your chance to initiate your family to that unique thrill sensation. The only thing my young son didn’t like were the “hot flames” in the fireworks shed. Me? Let’s just say going both directions makes for some interesting windswept hairdos! No inverted loops or heartwrenchers here:  just good, smooth family fun.

Spoiler alert: want to preview the ride before actually hitting the rails? View it animated online here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSBYYwSNEdE

For the smallest ones, there is a great new micro playground below the FireChaser, that brings back oversized Lego’s and a water play area that were features lost from the park with changes at the Owens Farm treehouse play area a few years back. It’s a delightful place to cool off in the heat. It is also very well-staffed to monitor for safety, which most playground-visiting parents can fully appreciate!

Please come and enjoy these new features for all at Dollywood, and stay with us at Volunteer Cabin Rentals while you are here. Our family would love to help yours enjoy the area as much as we do. We promise that once is not enough–join our group of repeat visiting friends soon! Book your visit today.

Erin Go Bragh! Irish Month Events at the Titanic Museum

People of Irish descent celebrate their heritage on St. Patrick’s Day, and anyone, from anywhere, can enjoy special events throughout Irish month this March at the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge. Storytelling and Gaelic humor, music with singing and dancing, and more will be featured throughout the month. The RMS Titanic arose from the Harland And Wolff Shipyard and the hands of its proud Irish workmen in Belfast, Ireland. Many members of both the ship’s crew and passenger list were of Irish descent.
Several authors of Titanic literature have scheduled Facebook interviews and book signings in March, culminating at month’s end with the 2nd annual Authors’ Week and Book Signing Fair from Saturday, March 29 to Saturday April 5th. The museum has also recently unveiled its featured new exhibit of Margaret “Unsinkable Molly” Brown, one of its many colorful, memorable passengers.
Board this museum “ship”, and immerse yourself in a recreation of sailing on the vast Titanic. Study her unparalleled opulence and the immense resources required to make an excursion. Experience the intricate details of the personal stories of those aboard the vessel during its maiden voyage and impending disaster. Touch an iceberg wall and plunge your hand into 28 degree water, which many endured upon the ship’s sinking.
During your visit, you will develop an interactive, hands-on knowledge of the Titanic that can be acquired no other way. There are activities to engage and educate your entire family aboard this museum. The RMS Titanic was and still is a captivating piece of modern maritime history. For information regarding Titanic events, tickets, and operating hours, visit http://www.titanicpigeonforge.com
As you plan the attractions you want to visit while in Tennessee, consider VCR as your hosts for your next stay in a Pigeon Forge cabin rental. We will work with you to select the perfect home for your vacation to our area. From cozy 1-bedrooms to colossal 12-bedrooms for large events, we can provide a property that will make your visit one you will want to repeat. We hope you will join us for a beautiful springtime in the Smokies.

Something for Everyone at Wilderness Wildlife Week, Pigeon Forge

You come to a Pigeon Forge cabin to relax, enjoy the view, and forget everyday life for a few days. Why not take a few moments of your vacation to learn more about the beautiful wilderness surrounding you here? If your family likes a little mental stimulation while relaxing, have we got a deal for you! Choose from over 300 programs with more than 200 experts covering so many topics, there is absolutely something that would interest you. There is plenty to see and do for all ages, children through seniors. Oh, and it is all FREE.

Please investigate attending the events of Wilderness Wildlife Week, for one or several programs. An annual festival since 1991, this week of interesting presentations, seminars, free hikes, field trips and other activities is a “do not miss” if you are in the area.
Wilderness Wildlife Week occurs Saturday, January 25 to Saturday, February 1, 2014. Sit in warm comfort at the new LeConte Center listening to an expert teach you far more than you thought, or put one foot in front of the other on a guided winter hike tour.

Want to try something new?
-Begin to play a dulcimer, banjo, guitar, ukelele, or spoons.
-Learn photography techniques, how to use a map and compass, how to raise butterflies.
-Make a quill pen, basket, jewelry, carving, or painting.
-Try dowsing, clogging, old Harp singing, or weather signs.

Want to increase your knowledge?
History-heritage classes of local sites, event, and people; Civil War, Appalachian music, Native American stories
Outdoor activities-Appalachian Trail, hiking, fly fishing, wildflowers, trees.
Animals-bears, wolves, bugs, possums, woodpeckers, birds, and more.

Have kids in the family?
Kid’s Track-try cartooning, old time toys, several bears activities, blindfold surprise, garbage pizza, hiking, and more.

These are just a few of the classes at LeConte Center. There is so much more available. Come join the over 20,000 people from several countries who enjoy this festival.

Me? Think I might take on the strenuous old time dessert tasting class, for starters.

For complete information on classes and seminars, the experts and exhibitors attending, and a complete booklet with listings information, check out
http://www.mypigeonforge.com/events/wilderness-wildlife-week/

Xtreme Racing Center: Fulfill Your Need for Speed

“Get there fast and then we’ll take it slow”? Absolutely not. This one is for the guys-or anyone who has a passion for hanging a tight curve. After you have unloaded all your luggage and family into your Pigeon Forge, Tennessee cabin, rush on over to Xtreme Racing Center in Pigeon Forge for some fast-paced fun.

This is no wimpy, slow kid’s ride. This is helmeted action close to the ground, the fastest available in the area. The racing center features two types of professional grade go kart cars, capable of reaching speeds up to 30 and 40 miles per hour. Three race experiences are available on two tracks. Also available are double cars if you need to slow down slightly for a younger (or just more timid) family member. An excellent arcade is also available for a breather, if you need to check your heartrate.

Group outing? Great idea. All types of groups would enjoy this competitive outing. Hmmm, perhaps a future team building exercise for us here at Volunteer Cabin Rentals? This might also be your company’s style of fun.

So bring back the thrill of spinning out on your Big Wheel as a kid, or revving your engine at a stoplight as a teen. Pretend you are a hard-driving racing pro, or just beat your best buddy around the course. The big kid adrenaline rush never gets old!

Check it out at http://xtremeracingcenterpigeonforge.com

Lumberjack Feud Dinner Show-A Meal with some Macho Muscle

So you have checked into your secluded Pigeon Forge cabin, and are now looking for a place to have dinner in town. Here’s a suggestion: what about a rowdy good time with your camp style meal? Consider the Great Smoky Mountain Lumberjack Feud Dinner Show.

Refined, it isn’t. Those looking for singers and dancers need to continue driving. These are some of the manliest guys in town! You may not be familiar with the unique action of axe chopping, tree climbing, chainsaw wielding, log rolling Timbersports, but these performers are true competitive athletes in every sense of the word. ESPN lumberjack athletes for Lumberjack Sports International work here. Champions and multigenerational timberjacks, both rising stars and seasoned veterans, all compete with fierce good nature in this rowdy show.

The main objective is this: “Don’t be too serious and relax for just a little while-Yoho!” Skilled competition is interspersed with slapstick humor, some audience participation, a little trade history, and a couple of competing flying timberdogs. Certainly not highbrow entertainment, but who would want it to be? You’ll think quite fondly of buffalo plaid after this tasty meal.

By the way, if you think you have what it takes to be a lumberjack (or lumberjill), you can even plan to attend Lumberjack Boot Camp. How about that for your next corporate team building exercise? The Lumberjack Feud welcomes groups of all types and sizes.

So try something a little different this time. You might laugh, learn something new, or even go home with an autographed “cookie”. For more information about showtimes and the athletes that make it happen, check out at http://lumberjackfeud.com

If we can do anything to make your stay in the Smokies a better experience, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Volunteer Cabin Rentals. We would love to have you become part of our loyal repeat customer family.

Old Mill Heritage Day Belongs on Your Bucket List

I recently mentioned the Old Mill in Pigeon Forge as a good photo opportunity location. Yet the Old Mill Square district also should be considered as a destination itself.
The original historic water-powered gristmill from the 1800’s is still in operation, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. An old-fashioned general store now occupies the mill building and markets milled products and pantry items. The area’s craft heritage is still demonstrated in other shops of Old Mill Square, a collection of several retail buildings located adjacent and nearby. Pigeon River Pottery artisans both create and sell handcrafted items. Other offerings include bakery and candy goods, gifts, mountain crafts, toy selections, and more.

Two restaurants serve the complex, and both are excellent. The Old Mill Restaurant is a rustic family-style meal, featuring items that include stone ground products from the mill. Pottery House Cafe & Grille has an American lunch and dinner menu that is deliciously homemade.

The Old Mill also hosts several festival events throughout the year. On Saturday, September 28, 2013, the 10th Annual Old Mill Heritage Day features live music, crafts, games, and food. It is an autumn event you really should visit if you are vacationing the end of this month. Learn more here: http://oldmillheritageday.com/index.htm

After checking into your Pigeon Forge cabin rental, we at Volunteer Cabin Rentals recommend visiting the Old Mill. We enjoy its variety as locals, and know you will too.
For directions and a short video, see 60 Seconds at The Old Mill Square in Pigeon Forge, TN.