IBJOpinion

LOU'S VIEWS: Pigeon Forge on a roll with new ways to lure tourists

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Lou Harry

Yes, I rolled down a Tennessee hill in a big wet ball.

Let me explain.

Earlier in the summer, my returning-from-Florida daughter secured a ride back as far as Tennessee. There, Dad would pick her up to complete the journey home. Newly addicted to amusement parks, though, she insisted that I take her and her pal to Dollywood, the theme-park anchor of Pigeon Forge. And as anyone who has driven through the Smoky Mountains knows, Dollywood does not stand alone in luring tourists to Pigeon Forge. The town overflows with attractions.

ae-zorb-bt-1col.jpg Zorb takes riders on a wild downhill ride. (Photo courtesy of Pigeon Forge Tourism)

Until recently, I would have driven right through without a thought of stopping. When you grow up in a tourist town (in my case, on the Jersey shore), you don’t place a high priority on visiting other tourist towns. Yet as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found something quintessentially summer about tourist meccas—cities where entrepreneurs compete to build the biggest water slides or the craziest miniature golf course. Places where the brochure racks at the hotel are packed with come-ons for wacky attractions.

Hence, my presence in a rolling watery orb.

It’s called Zorb and the only other ones, as of now, are in Amesbury, Mass.; Guam; and New Zealand. Riding it is a giddy, too-soon-over exercise in helplessness as you slosh around in the inner chamber of the rolling ball, giggling uncontrollably all the way. Daredevils can opt to be strapped in so that, instead of sliding around inside, you roll head over heels, but I’m no daredevil.

A drier but equally unique experience can be found at Lumberjack Feud, a dinner show housed in its own warehouse-like theater that covers an acre of ground and seats 1,000. The concept is that two rival families in the 1930s compete in outdoor challenges in order to decide which has claim on precious land.

ae-feud-bt-1col.jpg Lumberjack Feud offers unique live entertainment. (Photo courtesy of Pigeon Forge Tourism)

While the dialogue and gags are lowest common denominator and the food marginal, the spirits are high and the contests fun. The creators see it as being to logging as Cirque du Soleil is to the circus. Not quite. But with a waterfall, a 40-foot mountain and climbers scooting up 70-foot trees, Lumberjack Feud offers the Americana equivalent of Medieval Times.

Other Pigeon Forge attractions might be more familiar. This is a town with not one, but two, mirror maze complexes (we tried both) and plenty of miniature golf and go-kart action. We passed on the Titanic Museum, but did join Rose and Jack on the deck of the doomed ship at the Hollywood Wax Museum.

Opened in 2012, this is less a museum than a series of photo ops, allowing visitors to get instant Facebook gratification by posting shots with James Dean in a late-night diner or Arnold in full “Terminator” gear. Some of the choices are odd (Jack Black for “Nacho Libre”? Michael Caine for “The Cider House Rules”?), but we found it surprisingly fun. And we managed not to get fresh with the Dolly Parton wax figure—as tempting as that might be to tourists.

Speaking of Parton, she is the empress of this part of the Smokies, adding real-life celebrity pull to her namesake amusement park—even if she’s found primarily on posters and brochures rather than in the flesh.

As with most theme parks, there’s a dearth of in-between rides at Dollywood—with little betwixt kiddy and coaster. But as one would expect, there are plenty of under-an-hour musical reviews leaning toward country and gospel.

Parton’s park’s primary pleasure, though, comes from the way it embraced rather than plowed over the natural beauty of the area. Sure, some landscape changes had to be made to accommodate thrill rides, but the down-homeness doesn’t feel overtly manufactured here. It’s got a 30,000-square-foot aviary complete with bald eagles, and a craft area featuring blacksmiths, candle dippers and leather toolers. There are bumper cars, a zipline and rides whose very names (Wild Eagle, Blazing Fury, Fire Chaser Express) tempt with dare-you pleasures.

We left Tennessee with smiles, fun photos and terrific memories. Can a town be called a tourist trap when families happily and willingly get caught?•

__________

This column appears weekly. Send information on upcoming arts and entertainment events to lharry@ibj.com.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Loved your review.
    I'm a Hoosier-turned-Tennessean, and I had such a hoot reading about your time in Pigeon Forge. I think the last line of your column pretty much sums it up: "Can a town be called a tourist trap when families happily and willingly get caught?" I'm eager to see the upcoming Dollywood expansion and what it brings to Pigeon Forge. Apparently the Queen of Country plans to spend about $300 million expanding the park, including a new luxury resort. Read more about it here: http://www.pigeonforge.com/Blog/Pigeon-Forge-News-2013/August-2013/Exciting-News-Dolly-Parton-Plans-$300-Million-Expa#.UiYQKj_OAUs.

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Hello Dear Are you tired of Seeking Loans and Mortgages,have you Been Turned down constantly By your banks and Other Financial Institutions or Micro Finance scheme. This is let you know with 100% guarantee that we Offer loans ranging from $1,000 Minimum to $1,000,000.00 Maximum at 3% interest rate per Month. We give out LOANS for developing business. a competitive edge/business expansion. email address: michealscottloan124@gmail.com We offer the following kinds of loans and many more; * Personal Loans ( Unsecured Loan) * Business Loans ( Unsecured Loan) * Consolidation Loan * Combination Loan * Home Improvement * Xmas Loans for contact to seek for loan email this email address: michealscottloan124@gmail.com Thanks

  2. My name is Mr Henry Josh and i live in the USA California and life is worth living right now for me and my family and all this is because of one man sent by GOD to help me and my family, i once had a life filled with sorrow because my first SON needed a kidney transplant and all our savings were going towards his medications and this normally leaves us with no money to pay our bills or even put enough food on our table and our rent was due and no funds to pay these bills and life felt so unfair to me and every night my wife will cry herself to sleep every night until one day, i was browsing through yahoo answers and i saw a striking advert of a man that gives out personal loans and that the offer is opened to all and i have heard so many things about internet scams but at this point of my life, i was very desperate and ready to take any risk and at the end of the day, i applied for this loan and from one step to another, i got my loan within 12 hours through bank transfer and you know, it was all like a dream and i called Mr Daniel Jones A Man who is the GOD sent lender i found and said, i have received my loan and he smiled stating that to GOD be the glory and i was so shocked as i have never ever seen anyone with such a GOD fearing and kind heart and today, i am the happiest man on earth because by GOD’S grace, my SON kidney transplant was successful and today he is healthy, i and my family are living very comfortable and happy and if you are in my former situation or in serious and legitimate need of a loan, you can reach this GOD sent lender via fidelityloanfirm@outlook.com

  3. Greetings to everyone reading this comment!!! I am Greg William by name. I am out here to recommend the effort of Mark Oscar,I was in need of a consolidation loan amount of 50,000 and as soon as I got in contact with Mark Oscar Loan Firm on Wednesday last week and on Friday last week as well I receive an alert from my bank(Royal Bank of Scotland Group) that the fund was transferred,I want everybody on this site to contact Mark Oscar now via email on how to get a loan because I got my loan from them and I am very happy,so contact them now. Oscarloanfinance@hotmail.com Thanks!!!!!!

  4. Elected officials, like Mourdock, get vested in 8 years. It takes 10 years for all other public employees, most of whom make a lot less money. So much for the promise to finish out his term.

  5. Great state treasurer and a good man!! Just curious if the folks who didn't quite understand his quote would like to tell my daughter-in-law that God didn't intend her! Mourdock's comment was correct but twisted and the article didn't mention that his opponent and the press let the impression stand that Mourdock meant that the rape was intended. Stupid people!!

ADVERTISEMENT