Sometimes it can add extra fun to combine a little mystery into your theme park experience. As family season pass holders and frequent visitors to Dollywood, we have literally explored almost every corner of the park, watching it expand and evolve over the years. On a recent excursion, we began to collect trivia throughout Dollywood for an upcoming group gathering. Here is the resulting scavenger hunt that we compiled, along with the answers (and location if needed).
If you are like our family, all are looking ahead to summer vacation. Regardless of your destination in the Great Smoky Mountains, preparation is key to assuring your family’s comfort and that everyone has a good time. After checking into your Pigeon Forge rental cabin, most head outside for adventure. Visiting Dollywood during the hot weather months can be more enjoyable with these few specific tips while hitting the water rides. There are four seasonal rides that can quickly cool you off. Here are the details:
You spend so much of of daily life handling problems: work issues, school project deadlines, sports activities scheduling, and maintenance and repair surprises. When it is the too short timeframe to enjoy being with the person that you love, make each moment count! Here are some ways to ensure you create great shared memories when visiting the Smoky Mountains this month.
1. Try a fun activity together like ice skating at Ober Gatlinburg. Whether a new experience for one or both of you, it is a simple pleasure to circle the Olympic-sized ice rink hand in hand. Bonus hand holding time is available if you park in downtown Gatlinburg, and ride the aerial tramway car to the summit. Descending from the resort at dusk grants a lovely panoramic view of the sunset over the surrounding ridges and the lights of Gatlinburg below.
If all things locomotive interest you, there are multiple opportunities in East Tennessee to explore train history in our area. Some favorites are mentioned here, starting closest geographically to your Smokies rental cabin, and moving outward.
For those in your crowd who don’t really like it tame! We have beautiful mountains to admire from afar, and certainly to hike upon (that’s a different type of thrill I’ll save for another time). We also have many rolling foothills, with action chasing that is only found where the terrain is more than horizontal. So what can you do once you are at the top of the hill? Here are four thrill-satisfying ways to reach the bottom.
One of the many pleasures of a secluded Smoky Mountain cabin rental is taking in the views of nature around you while relaxing. Choose an easy chair, a porch rocker, or a steaming, swirling hot tub. But what if you could view the Smokies in all their autumn splendor? What if you could view all of the Smokies? Ok, well, maybe not all. But when viewed from above, the vast, undulating landscape that we locals call home rolls out beneath you like a multi-hued carpet!
Consider taking a helicopter ride, to see our area like you’ve never seen it before. This activity is a superb choice for creating a one-of-a-kind experience for you and your family. There are several options available, offering different areas of flyover and duration, to accommodate various budgets and levels of courage. Make a quick journey over Douglas Lake and the surrounding foothills, or fly deep into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to see Cades Cove stretch out below you.
Plan your glorious, fall color review now by checking out the touring information at Scenic Helicopter Tours. Their experienced, professional pilots fly the most number of approved flight paths throughout the Smokies area, giving you the best selection and value for your airtime dollars. All members of your group can fly (from the youngest to the oldest), in 3- or 4-passenger groups. Don’t forget your camera, since photos and videos are highly encouraged.
It’s truly a different perspective to see notable landmarks and the area’s natural wonders from the air: sightseeing at its best. Our VCR family loves these flights, and so will yours!
Sometimes you just want to kick back, daydream and do absolutely nothing on the deck of your cabin in Pigeon Forge. Of course, you may have planned some regular pit stops iif you are a returning visitor (the majority of visitors to our area are repeaters). Today, I just want to challenge you to try a few new locations that might interest you. They are at least unusual, if not downright strange.
1. The Tomb, Pigeon Forge-Of course, an ancient Egyptian pyramid makes perfect sense in Pigeon Forge, right? Tucked behind Firehouse Mini-Golf and adjacent to Calhoun’s BBQ in Walden’s Landing, this indoor archeology attraction can be amusing on a rainy day, as you puzzle your way through the guided “pyramid innards”. This place is most fun for a group on its own curious expedition.
2. The Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum, Gatlinburg-If you appreciate the process of collecting, you’ll enjoy this display of one family’s efforts to amass the unusual of those functional pairs of kitchen items. Created over 25 years, with over 20,000 pairs (?!), it’s worth an interesting look when you are in Gatlinburg. Be aware that should you want to purchase a pair of shakers, there are many options available online also.
3. Parrot Mountain, Pigeon Forge-Hundreds of beautiful, tropical birds have a local aviary residence at this 4-acre garden park, near Dollywood on McCarter Hollow Road. Come see more parrots, lories, and other birds than you’ve ever seen in one location: in a lush setting where you can also feed them by hand. Don’t forget your camera for some photos!
4. Smoky Mountain Knife Works, Sevierville-Need a sharp knife? Like taxidermy too? This large complex on Winfield Dunn Parkway in Sevierville is billed as “the World’s Largest Knife Showplace”. From collectibles, to kitchen performance brands, to military and martial arts, there are so many brands of knives available, it is literally mind boggling—who knew? The safari animals on display have never made sense to me, but they too are a bit interesting. If there is any type of knife you can imagine needing, you will find it here.
5. Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium, Gatlinburg-On the Parkway in the heart of town, this museum is the definition of quirky, with all sorts of exhibits to meet that “beyond belief” quotient. Yes, you should probably go and enjoy this well-known center of kitsch and odd entertainment.
Ripley’s obviously hasn’t cornered the market in this area on the, ahem, unusual. Keep your antennae up and sensors on search, as there are still more places like these dotted across our landscape…Smoky Mountain Cathouse, anyone? So, raise that one curious eyebrow, and enjoy. To each, his own!
How long has your family been visiting the Great Smoky Mountains for vacation? The vast majority of visitors here are returning guests, who have enjoyed spending time together as their relatives grow and change. Though Gatlinburg had developed a burgeoning tourist business by the mid-1960’s, it is obvious from the aerial picture below that Pigeon Forge was still in its infancy as a vacation destination. More than likely, the secluded Pigeon Forge rental cabin which you have chosen as your place to relax was built within the last 25 years (most likely the last 15), which is the time window when most of these accommodations became more numerous here. With so many changes, I wanted to remember a few earlier attractions that some members of your family may enjoy recalling from a simpler era.
If the original Water Boggan was a wet ride that you enjoyed in the 70’s and 80’s, you know that you would not want to lose your foam rubber mat on your ride down the hill! The textured, painted concrete troughs made for a bit of a roughed up bottom, unlike the smooth fiberglass runs of today’s parks. Other water attractions of that era included Mountain Ocean, the town’s original wave pool, and Ogle’s Water Park, the first and largest complex of water slides and pools at that time. The pictured Water Boggan, hillside at the far north end of Pigeon Forge is now dotted with camping rental cabins. Mountain Ocean has long been paved over as the upper parking lot of (originally named) Factory Merchants Outlet Mall (red roof mall stores) in the early 80’s. Ogle’s Water Park was sold, dismantled, and redeveloped as Walden’s Landing in 2003, at the corner of Parkway and Wears Valley Road .
Ah, the water-skiing stunt show that was Tommy Bartlett’s Water Circus! This ski, sky, and stage show opened in 1977, and was billed as “the greatest show on H2O”. The show’s run in the area was splashy (ok, that was a really bad pun), but relatively short, ending in the early 80’s. The grandstand canopy is still rusting in place on Sugar Hollow Road just off the Parkway across from the recently closed ZORB attraction. It was redeveloped by a church organization with buildings added roadside, and then again changed hands later.
If you ever visited Porpoise Island, you caught a taste of Hawaii in the Smoky Mountains. Surely an unexpected combination of Polynesian and East Tennessee cultures, but “the porpoises are calling you!” (declared their commercials). The attraction featured a seal and porpoise water show, trained parrots, and a Hula dancer music luau show, among others. Students from Hawaii were flown in each season, along with almost all the animals. It was a fun and interesting place to visit. In doing some research for this blog, I noticed on Facebook that the Porpoise Island cast recently held a reunion in 2012, expressing fond memories of Tennessee, just as we have fond memories of their time here in the 1970’s and 80’s. The same property in the middle of the Pigeon River is now The Island, which is a rapidly growing development with new attractions and restaurants. Just look for the large observation Wheel, and you’ll be standing on what was once “native Hawaiian” stomping grounds.