Friday, August 30, 2013

THE LONGEST ALPINE COASTER IN THE UNITED STATES IS IN PIGEON FORGE!

The Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster, the newest attraction in the Smokies, is rolling up and down the mountain in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster in Pigeon Forge, TN


This railed-coaster attraction comes from Germany and has been constructed on a mountain on Wears Valley Road. The location does not yet have a sign but it is only 1.4 miles from the Parkway in Pigeon Forge. Go right (west) at Stoplight #3 and look for the railway on the left. Getting there is the only hard thing about the attraction.

Once you buy your ticket you are given very clear instruction on what to do. Then you sit on the coaster, get strapped in, give the "thumbs-up" sign, and get pulled up the mountainside. At the top you are released and you roll down the mountain. You control the speed with handbrakes on both side of the coaster.
Pigeon Forge Uber RideSmoky Mountain Alpine Coaster in Pigeon Forge, TN

Pigeon Forge Uber Ride

The ride is super smooth and there are curves and turns all the way down. You are riding through a beautiful forest and across a stream, but you will hardly notice the sights as the thrill of the fast ride down the mountain captures your complete attention.

This ride is for any age but you must be 48" tall to ride. There is no walking up or down the mountain once you get to the ticket window, and lines moves quickly. You can ride alone or with two people. It is a fun, fun ride and my friend said she was going again, but this time she was taking her Dad!

For more information click:  http://www.smokymountainsbrochures.com/Attractions/Sevierville/TN/Alpine%20Coaster/20532.

SMOKIES STADIUM ROCKED WITH THE BAND PERRY!!

It was a hot night at the Tennessee Smokies Stadium literally and figuratively, when The Band Perry rocked the house on Thursday, August 29, 2013.

The Band Perry at Tennessee Smokies Stadium

As the sun went down the temperature on the baseball field was 86 degrees, and two country groups had already sung their hearts out for the capacity crowd at the ballpark. First, Charlie Worsham, an up-and-coming country star with a stage full of personality and a top 30 hit, performed with his band.
The Band Perry at Tennessee Smokies Stadium

The young girls in the audience already knew who he was and he endeared himself to the rest of the crowd by showing off his "Tennessee Orange" high-topped sneakers. On top of a great personality and good command of the guitar and banjo, Charlie had a very good voice and I am sure we will hear more about him in the future.

Kristen Kelly and her band followed Charlie and she performed until the sun went down. Kristen has a powerful voice and great range, singing country and blues. Her blues song was "He loves to make me cry" and one of her best country songs was "I have an ex-old man and an ex-best girl friend". Leave it to a country artist to take a personal heartbreak and turn it into a country hit.

Smokies Stadium only cooled down for a moment until The Band Perry took the stage, and I mean they TOOK the stage. The light show and powerful instrumentation hit you right between the eyes from the first chord, and our neighbors from Greeneville, TN didn't let go until the lights went down on the stage in center field. They performed most of their hits and covered several other hits with their own style making it their own piece.

The Band Perry at Tennessee Smokies Stadium
The layout of the stage and the on-field seating, and the organization of all of the stadium-related events was superb. The stage set-up was done well and the acoustics were superb. Well done Smokies crew!

Everyone enjoyed the hot, rocking night and we look forward to another concert at Smokies Stadium!

DOLLY PARTON ANNOUNCES MAJOR PIGEON FORGE DEVELOPMENT

Today Dolly Parton announced a $300 million investment in her theme part Dollywood located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Dolly announces Dream More Resort


The money will be invested over a 10-year period beginning in 2014 with a new one-of-a-kind roller coaster called the Firechaser Express. It goes forwards, backward and from zero to hero to celebrate the hero in all of us.

In the summer of 2015 a 300-room, full-service resort will open on Veterans Boulevard, just north of Dollywood's Splash Country, in Pigeon Forge. It will be called the Dream More Resort and will provide ways for families to connect - swings, fire pits and porches.

Dream More Resort


In addition to Dolly's introduction, Governor Bill Haslam and Tourism Director Susan Whitaker discussed the $50.6 billion tourism dollars generated in Tennessee, and the additional $8 million that was added to the state's budget for 2014 tourism marketing.

Pigeon Forge City Manager Earlene Teaster said that 2012 was a record-breaking year which generated over $900 million in tourism revenue. Dollywood President Craig Ross stated that the 300-room resort was just the first phase of the Resort and that there will be more unique rides at Dollywood.

Dream More Resort

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A SHOPPING OASIS IN PIGEON FORGE-WALDEN'S LANDING

Pigeon Forge has a lot to offer the visitor, but sometimes visitors just want to find an area that they can park, shop, dine and play without driving from one venue to the next. One of those places is Walden's Landing, located on the Parkway in Pigeon Forge, between lights 2a and 3.

Walden's Landing in Pigeon Forge, TN


Walden's Landing will remind you of a downtown street the way downtowns used to be, and it is laid out around a miniature golf course. You can stroll along the street, stop in the shops, buy snacks, eat in the restaurants, go to a movie, and of course play miniature golf at Firehouse Golf. There is plenty of free parking surrounding the shopping, dining and entertainment center.

Mini Golf in Pigeon Forge's Waldens Landing


There are many well-known stores in the Landing like Birkenstock, Thomas Kinkade and Kilwin's Chocolates and Ice Cream. Some shops offer items described in their name, like Dolls and Doll Clothes, Outback Leather and Smoky Mountain Harley Davidson, but others are unique to the area. Color Bar & Spa offers make-up and spa services; Sweet Peas offers garden items, and The Maple's Tree specializes in handcrafted quilts and cozy home and lodge d├ęcor.

Food and treats include Calhoun's for hickory smoked ribs and handcrafted beers, No Way Jose's Mexican Cantina,  Smoky Mountain Brewery with pizza, sandwiches and microbrews and Five Guys Burgers and Fries. For treats enjoy yoghurt at Tutti Fruttis and jerky of all kinds at The Beef Jerky Outlet. Villa Zapata, located across Community Center Drive, also offers Mexican food.

Pigeon Forge Movie Theater


In addition to the miniature golf, you can catch a movie at the state-of-the-art movie theater, Forge Theater, with Digital projection, 3-D and Digital Surround Sound. Some nights there is live music on the stage across from the theater.

For a unique Pigeon Forge experience take a tour of Walden's Landing, a shopping oasis in Pigeon Forge.

Friday, August 9, 2013

WE FOUND UNDERGROUND FUN AT THE LOST SEA

There are many caves to explore in East Tennessee and we have been through Forbidden Caverns and Tuckaleechee Caverns, so it was time to visit The Lost Sea in Sweetwater, TN.

We took a leisurely drive down Highway 411, avoiding I-75 and enjoying the beautiful East Tennessee countryside. It took about an hour-and-a-half from Sevierville but the time passed quickly as we drove through Maryville and Vonore, then turned west on Highway 68 at Madisonville.

We followed the signs to the entrance and entered through their gift shop and purchased our tickets. We then went into a man-made steel tunnel, sat on benches, received a 10-minute orientation from our guide, Savannah, then entered the caverns.

Unlike most caverns, The Lost Sea is wide open and spacious. There are some low ceilings but nowhere did we have to duck to pass through. Savannah explained the history of the caverns and kept the dialogue flowing with information and fun facts. She was quite funny. She explained how there used to be a bar in the caverns and the low oxygen level kept people from feeling the effects of the alcohol - until they went back up the tunnel and reached the top. Sometimes the alcohol would hit them all at once and they would pass-out and roll back down the tunnel. The bar is no longer there.

After the cave tour we went down to the lake and boarded a glass bottom boat with a trolling motor. We could put our hands in the water until we got halfway across the lake. At that point we had to take our hands out of the water so they could feed the trout that live there. The fish swarmed the sides of the boat for their treats. Normally the fish stay in that feeding area but one trout followed our boat all the way back to the dock. I guess he was a slow learner.

Savannah took us out of the cave and we stopped at the rock formation called "The Bear". This rock is supposed to bring good luck and we were allowed to touch and rub The Bear, which is the only rock that you can touch in the cave.

We shopped in the gift shop for some nice gifts, then went across the parking lot to the glass blower. His shop had very nice hand-made pieces and good prices, and I am going back for the piece he was working on - a wolf howling at the moon.

We bought Mayfield ice cream at the General Store but did not eat at the BBQ Restaurant as it was filled with school kids. We enjoyed our visit and are definitely going back!

For a coupon and more information on The Lost Sea click here: http://www.smokymountainsbrochures.com/Attractions/Sweetwater/TN/Lost%20Sea%20Adventure/18979

Monday, August 5, 2013

SEE PIGEON FORGE FROM THE AIR ON THE WONDERS OF FLIGHT!

The Wonders of Flight is the new helium-filled balloon ride behind WonderWorks in Pigeon Forge, TN. The Wonders of Flight ride gives you a birds-eye view of Pigeon Forge and the Great Smoky Mountains.
Wonders of Flight in Pigeon Forge, Hot Air Baloon Ride
 We chose to ride the balloon at sundown to see the lights of Pigeon Forge. The balloon was just taking off as we walked to the ticket booth. Scott at the ticket window was very courteous and set us up for our flight right away. We walked down the ramp to the loading area and watching the balloon descend slowly to its base.

'Captain Ben' invited us to board the gondola which is an enclosed platform with handrails. Once we were all loaded he closed and secured the door and explained what would be happening during our flight. The Wonders of Flight balloon is tethered to a winch which slowly allows the balloon to ascend. We went up to 400 feet above the ground and had a spectacular view of Pigeon Forge, especially The Titanic, which was aglow from their lights. Here is a look. You can see The Titanic in the bottom left of the middle square of protective netting.
We stayed aloft for several minutes then began our slow descent to the ground. The night was cool, the views were spectacular and the hospitality was superb!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Tennessee's Tax Free Weekend in the Smokies!

This weekend, August 2, 3 and 4th, is the Tax-Free Weekend in Tennessee, and the Smoky Mountains are a great place to send quality time and to save money.

Shopping, Dining, Theaters and Attractions abound in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Sevierville, so its a great place for couples and families to come for fun, food and savings. And fellows, I will give you a list of things to do if you are not a shopper. But for shopping the East Tennessee Smokies can't be beat!

Tanger Five Oaks Outlet in Sevierville is a great place to start. Over 100 stores featuring name-brand apparel, shoes, jewelry, accessories, restaurants, Starbucks, gift stores and many more stores to experience and enjoy. Even though this could be an all-day experience, there's more!

The Old Mill Square features the Old Mill Pottery House, the Farmhouse Kitchen, the Candy Kitchen, Creamery, Toy Store, Sassafras and the Old Mill General Store where you can get old time fixin's and flours and grains ground on property. And while you are there have lunch or dinner at the famous Old Mill Restaurant. Another good place for kitchen and home accessories is the Apple Barn, where you can also enjoy lunch or dinner and a famous apple fritter

Around the corner is Old Time Pottery and around another corner is the Incredible Christmas Place. Both are experiences not to be missed!

You can restock your dining room, kitchen and bedrooms at Mr. Tablecloth & More and Lid'l Dollys Factory Store which are located close to each other on the Parkway in Pigeon Forge. Little girl clothes and doll clothes are available at Lid'l Dollys and American Girl Doll with two locations on the Parkway in Pigeon Forge.

There is no shortage of different and unique shopping and things to experience in the Smokies including Smoky Mountain Guitars, the home of high quality stringed instruments and the Bluegrass Opry live shows on the weekends. You can take the Rocky Top Wine Tour, shop in one of the largest fireworks stores in the southeast at Fireworks Supermarket, get your picture taken at Old Time Photo, and hit two big flea markets - Great Smokies Flea Market and Flea Traders Paradise. For more info on shopping go to http://www.bestreadguidesmokymountains.com/shopping.html

You can't shop and eat all of the time so take time to visit one of the top-quality theaters in the area. For comedy there's The Comedy Barn and Bob Nelson Theater; country music is playing at Country Tonite, The Smoky Mountain Opry and Smith Family Theater; dinner shows include Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show, the Lumberjack Feud and the Great Smoky Mountain Murder Mystery Dinner Show; The Blackwoods perform gospel at the Smoky Mountain Opry in the mornings, and Terry Evanswood performs at the Wonders of Magic Theater at WonderWorks; there is Soul Music at the Soul of Motown and music from several generations at America's Hit Parade, both at the Grand Majestic Theater. For mor information on theaters go to http://bestreadguidesmokymountains.com/theaters.html.

Guys, I didn't forget you. There are marvelous golf courses in the area especially the two-eighteen hole courses at the Sevierville Golf Club. Afterwards stop into Mulligans Pub for food and drink. You could also do an ATV ride, go ziplining, rafting, horseback riding or go-carts at The Track or NASCAR Speedpark. If you want to just chill you could go to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and hike or sit by a mountain stream.

And after a day of shopping or a night at the theater, drive up to Gatlinburg and enjoy a little late night rendezvous with your spouse or significant other at the Melting Pot. Or, if you are in the rock mood, hit the 11:00 pm The Big Rock Show at the Bob Nelson Theater in Pigeon Forge. A guaranteed rockin' good time!

For more information and coupons for theaters, attractions, restaurants, shopping and rockin', go to www.bestreadguidesmokymountains.com. Click on the Coupon page for coupons and info and the Video Showcase to see videos of area theaters, restaurants and attractions.