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Erik & Misty's Smoky Mountain Adventures

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Wherein we detail our enjoyment of all the strange and wonderful tourist attractions in the place we used live.


We did everything, so you don't have to.


Introduction and Dollywood's Festival of Nations - Page 1

Space Needle - Page 1

Earthquake The Ride - Page 1

Hillbilly Golf - Page 1

Sky Lift - Page 2

Dixie Stampede - Page 2

Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride - Page 2

Old MacDonald's Farm Mini Golf - Page 3

Wild WaterDome (Wilderness at the Smokies) - Page 4

Newfound Gap & Clingman's Dome (Great Smoky Mountains National Park) - Page 4


The 24th Annual Dolly Parton Homecoming Parade - Page 5

Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies - Page 6

Ober Gatlinburg - Page 7

Dollywood's Kids Fest - Page 7

Smoky Mountain Fantasy Golf - Page 7

The Incredible Christmas Place - Page 9

Cades Cove (Great Smoky Mountains National Park) - Page 9

World's Fair Park & The Sunsphere (Knoxville) - Page 10

Hauntings - Page 11

Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum - Page 12


Blindshot Barnaby's Circus Golf - 13

Dollywood's Splash Country - Page 13

World of Illusions - Page 14

The Flying Horse Grill - Page 16

Adventure Golf - Page 16

The Knoxville Zoo - Page 16

Fort Fun / Old Gatlinburg Golf & Games - Page 17

MagiQuest - Page 18

Forbidden Caverns - Page 19

Red Rooster Pancake House - Page 20


Lazerport - Page 20

Motor Nature Trail (Great Smoky Mountains National Park) - Page 21

Professor Hacker's Lost Treasure Golf - Page 22

Sevier County Fair - Page 22

Parrot Mountain - Page 23

Gatlinburg's Mysterious Mansion - Page 24

Sir Goony's (Knoxville) - Page 24

Dollywood in Summer - Page 25

The Apple Barn - Page 26

WonderWorks - Page 27


Ripley's Haunted Adventure - Page 27

Black Bear Jamboree - Page 28

Cooter's - Page 28

Dinosaur Walk Museum - Page 29

Hollywood Wax Museum - Page 29

Walden's Landing / Firehouse Golf - Page 32

Dollywood's National Gospel & Harvest Celebration - Page 33

The Old Mill - Page 35

Davy Crockett Mini Golf - Page 36

Guinness Book of Records - Page 37


Hollywood Star Cars Museum - Page 38

Dollywood in the Snow - Page 39

20th Annual Winterfest Kick Off / Patriot Park - Page 40

Trolley Tour of Lights - Page 41

The 12 Days of Christmas - Page 42

Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas - Page 42

Rainforest Adventures - Page 44

Treasure Quest Miniature Golf - Page 45

Smoky Mountain Knife Works - Page 45

Gator Golf / The Track - Page 47


Tennessee Museum of Aviation - Page 48

The Alamo Steakhouse - Page 48

Dragon's Lair Fantasy Golf / Nascar Speedpark - Page 48

Scenic Helicopter Tours - Page 49

Rocky Top Finale - Page 49


And pretty enough to hang on your wall.


Bye-bye (for now) from Dollywood. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more Smoky Mountain Adventures!


I have no idea how this won so many Golden Tickets…but it is pretty good.


(The) Thunderhead's entrance and exit.


All of the rides in Timber Canyon. From left to right: Mystery Mine, Lumberjack Lifts, Thunderhead, and Timber Tower.


Hey, it’s me! I’m a lumberjack!


Mystery Mine’s first outdoor section.


A "River Battle" in full swing.


If you know anyone that likes to make beaver jokes, bring them here immediately.


Sounds dangerous. I’ll just put my camera down there instead....


And now back to lame photos.


The only way this could be better is if Dolly Parton was riding in the front seat with Burt Reynolds.


This is the world’s smoothest Arrow multi-looper, The Tennessee Tornado. And I am about to show you the best picture I’ve ever taken of it.


Misty demonstrates her unique butt-drying technique.


…and yes, part water ride.


Blazing Fury - part dark ride, part rollercoaster...


Forget the church. How many parks have a guitar and dulcimer store??


This photo pretty much sums of my feelings about Tennessee.


It only has one drop, but it's a pretty good one.


I almost never skip this one.


One of Dollywood’s patented sloping walkways and the entrance to Daredevil Falls.


This is a craftsman. He is crafting.


And now to Craftsman’s Valley.


...and a wet ride down.


It's a long walk up...


But it’s also home to a ride my spellchecker doesn’t like one bit, The Mountain Slidewinder.


Dreamland Forest is largely a play area.


Hydrangea is a genus of about 70-75 species of flowering plants native to southern and eastern Asia and North and South America. (See how it ties in to the Festival of Nations?)


Does this mean the park is going to be busy today?


Inside Dolly's tour bus. (Which was so exciting that I became a being of pure energy.)


"Adventures in Imagination" is pretty much the Dolly section of Dollywood.


I broke the horn by pushing it too much.


We rode separately the first time. Misty got “Going to the Chapel” on her radio. I got “Flying Purple People Eater.”


But at least that one is in a whole 50's-themed area of the park.


Red's Diner--because it’s actually a law that every park in the US must have a 50’s-themed diner.


Oh crap.


That doesn't look good.


Bring on the water rides. First up, Smoky Mountain Rampage.


Even though I’ve been visiting Dollywood pretty steadily for four or five years now, and despite the fact that they aren’t adding anything major this season--for some reason, the park has just really grown on me this year.


Smisty won a frog.


Notice anything odd about this photo? (Or rather, with what’s going on in the photo?)


The Country Fair area is home to most of the park’s flat rides and games of skill.


Luckily, Dollywood has lots of other fun stuff to keep one occupied.


And, apart from a few flags here and there, that’s about it for Festival of Nations.


According to Dollywood, this is Asian food. Whatever, it looked good.


These guys are about it, as far as street performers go.


Where previous years saw loads of street performers, shops, crafts, and outdoor displays throughout the entire right side of the park, this year it’s pretty much limited to just the front section.


This year’s version seemed a bit scaled back, though.


Dollywood starts its season with Festival of Nations.


...and, of course, Dollywood!


Plus, more mini golf than you can shake a putter at…


…and all the restaurants, shops, dinner theaters, and other attractions that go along with it.


Nestled at the base of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we’re within easy walking distance of the area’s main drag…


Hi, I'm Erik. This is my girlfriend, fiancee, and companion friendy thing, Smisty (TPR screen name: speedmetal). And this is our house in the heart of beautiful Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

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Another great TR from you. Thanks for sharing!


Any chance I could get a High-Res copy of your best photo that you've ever taken of Tennessee Tornado? I would have to say that it is my favorite photo that I have ever seen of it, and I would love to use it as a desktop background. If not, no worries!

I also think Tennessee Tornado is the smoothest Arrow that I have EVER been on. I was super surprised the first time I rode it.

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Next up, Gatlinburg's Space Needle.


The mark of quality. Let's get the heck out of here.


I push the button.


Oh. How do you suppose that sign got there?


Is it the downtown area stretching back towards Pigeon Forge? No...?


Misty not being a chicken. Let's see what she's pointing at.


The Sky Lift attraction.


Ober Gatlinburg's tram coming back into the station.


Looking down Historic Nature Trail (traffic light 8).


That's kinda cool.


The observation deck is pretty bare, and oh so ghetto, but the views are nice.


Riding up to the top.


But we want to go up--preferably, fast.


The building that surrounds base of the tower houses an arcade.


The entrance and ticket booth. The price for adults is $7.25 (but, as with almost everything in the area, locals get a substantial discount).


Standing 407-feet tall, this observation tower offers spectacular views of downtown Gatlinburg.

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If you passed this on the streets of Gatlinburg, you might be forgiven for thinking, "Ugh, this looks bad." But you would be oh so wrong. For, in fact, it is The Greatest Thing Ever.


But that's nothing compared to the escaped gorilla who was being shipped to or from the Congo, wide awake, via subway!


If you like cheesy WTF, then you owe it to yourself to experience Earthquake The Ride.


The earthquake strikes! And suddenly there's another train on the track! It's heading right for you! And also, there's a barrel of acid!


The train moves forward and back, and the seats tilt backward and forward. It's not violent or painful, though (surprisingly).


The train holds eight people, in four rows of two, and the track is about twice the length of the train.


The sign behind these simulated guests says, "An actual ride."


Sure, yes, you experience an earthquake while riding a subway train. But aren't those elements common to nearly every ride, when you really think about it?


Earthquake The Ride - an experience completely unlike anything you can do at USF.

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^ Thanks! I'm not sure how necessary it is, but I'm having fun doing it.


Hillbilly Golf


Yes, Misty, you won. You don't have to brag about it.


Actually, you don’t quite putt your way all the way back down. You have to take the funicular again...not that you wouldn’t want to anyway.


The 18th hole is an outhouse. (I’ll let you make your own “two stroke” joke here.)


Honestly, I'm pretty fond of this place. If you were only going to play one mini golf establishment in the area, you could do worse.


Pretty good overview of the place.


And now here's a thing.


Does my fatness make me look fat?


Both courses are very shady. This is good choice for an outdoor activity on a hot day.


This is my friend Seth. He took a break from hiking the AT to play some mini golf with us and enjoy a cola.


There are two courses, and they both run back down the mountain.


Why would anyone want a barrel of mildew? (Actually, it says MTN.DEW, but I’m not sure that’s any less weird.)


Up we go.


Basically, there was just enough room by the road for a ticket shack, so they built a funicular up the side of the mountain.


On a nearly unbuildable plot of land in Gatlinburg exists a mini golf course like no other.

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Erik, this is awesome and brings back some wonderful memories from last Thanksgiving. Still can't believe I was right around the corner from our house!


With so much to do in both Pigeon Forge AND Gatlinburg, this as an on-going thread would be a huge help to anyone interested in those areas. I'd be very interested in seeing what other attractions you go to.


Seriously, great work here!

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Notice anything odd about this photo? (Or rather, with what’s going on in the photo?)


You mean the maintenance guy on the track pushing the kiddie coaster? He worried me a little.



Too bad you couldn't get that picture of the guy with the stick.

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With so much to do in both Pigeon Forge AND Gatlinburg, this as an on-going thread would be a huge help to anyone interested in those areas. I'd be very interested in seeing what other attractions you go to. Seriously, great work here!


Thanks, Michael. I really appreciate that. Part of the inspiration for this thread is the private messages I occasionally get asking for advice on the area. And, also, it gives me a place to post all of my lame mini golf photos.


I found the first picture of the "space needle" interesting considering you at the same height as the needle itself. I guess things are a bit different down south.


It's funny you should say that....


Gatlinburg's other observation-type attraction is the Sky Lift.


Down the mountain, over the river, across the road, through the hotel parking lot, and back into the station. Not bad, eh?


Aw, don't be sad, Smisty. The ride down is the best part!


Time to head down.


Why they call them the Smoky Mountains. (Note: This is not actually true. Just go with me here.)


It's a pretty nice view.


At the top are an observation deck and a really typical “I’m with stupid…on the moon” gift shop.


Animatronic! (Sorry, I scream that whenever I see one.) Smile for the on-ride photo.


The view up is, well, pretty much just dirt at this point.


Yes, you go right over the Gatlinburg Inn’s parking lot. (A famous song with a Tennessee connection was written in one of this hotel’s rooms. Anyone?)


...and the other is at the top of that there mountain. It's a bit overpriced at $12.00 for adults, but it's still fun.


Basically, it's a chair lift. One end is right on the parkway...


And that's the Sky Lift.

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Before this visit, and despite living in towns that had them for at least the last eight years or so, I had never been to the Dixie Stampede. What can I say? I’m just not a show guy. Still, when the opportunity arose to go for free, for the fourth year in a row, I finally gave in. And...well, it wasn’t bad, actually. In fact, I kind of enjoyed it.


Fair warning, though: Photography of the actual show is not permitted. But that’s not to say that there’s nothing to take pictures of....


And then abandon it by the side of the road.


Here you can stuff your own cute, lovable critter.


Giant Dolly Parton orders you to exit through the gift shop.


The Master of Ceremonies guy putting up his horsy.


The main arena.


The menu is printed on the napkin. Now that’s efficiency.


...and then settle in for the show.


...try to figure out which stall to use if you're from California...


...drink some fruity stuff from a souvenir "bootmug"...


...watch some pre-show entertainment...


...get your photo taken...


You go in here...


The ticket booths and a lady who's wondering why I'm taking a picture of them.


The entrance is around to the side.


The Dixie Stampede, as seen from the Parkway.

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Owned by the same people, bigger in scope, but not quite as cheesy (unfortunately) as Earthquake, comes the Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride!


We survived!


Verdict: Not quite good enough to stand on quality, not quite cheesy enough to succeed on charm. Plus, it’s really expensive. Unless you live here, or just have to ride anything with a dinosaur in it, it’s probably not worth your time. Just ride Blazing Fury while you’re at Dollywood instead.


...a giant disembodied snake head pops out of the wall. Then you’re slowly lowered back down (if you’re in the front...if you’re in the back, not much really happens). The doors open, and you’re free. Ta-da!


This photo is slightly out of order, but I want to use it to explain the ending of the ride. You cruise up to the closed exit doors and stop. Then, for no storyline reason I can fathom, the front of the boat is slowly lifted up about five or six feet out of the water, and...


Luckily, he's not interested in us.




This one doesn’t seem so bad.




Hey, what’s that up there?


I will eat you! - Rather than continuously moving through the attraction, the boat frequently stops so that you can be better menaced.


The doors open into a prehistoric world of fog machines and cargo netting.


More creepy fake customers.


A T-Rex defending its waterfall.


I’m friendly!


The track leading to the entry doors. It’s worth noting that at no point is the boat free floating.


Misty's "waiting for a boat" face.


Cost? A whopping $13.99 for adults! But fear not, no sacrifice is too great for you, my loyal readers!

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^ I've been a few times, but not yet this year. I'm sure I will, though.


One could definitely go broke doing all this stuff. Luckily, because the area has so few actual residents, most business give really generous local discounts. I even get into several places for free.


/Still not used to that white stuff that occasionally falls from the sky, though.

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Why they call them the Smoky Mountains. (Note: This is not actually true. Just go with me here.)


Funny story about what you just said. The weather guy at my station just had a tower cam picture similiar to this picture (with the low clouds but flat land) and said, "this is why they call them the smokey mountains" (the low clouds and all). If you don't mind me asking, why do they call them the smokey mountains (if you have a link, that would be awesome), I love to prove the weather guy wrong here.

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^ But that's just it. You could slap a chairlift-type ride just about anywhere with an elevation change, and people will inevitably pay the cost to ride it, and think it's fascinating.


At least with the Ober Gatlinburg tram there's something slightly interesting to do at the top.


<------Doesn't get the draw of the Grand Canyon either, but people continue to stop and stare at it, regardless of it just being a huge hole in the ground.

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The weather guy at my station just had a tower cam picture similiar to this picture (with the low clouds but flat land) and said, "this is why they call them the smokey mountains" (the low clouds and all). If you don't mind me asking, why do they call them the smokey mountains (if you have a link, that would be awesome), I love to prove the weather guy wrong here.


Well, actually, it's a bit unclear. The Cherokee called them "shaconage," which sounds a bit like "smoky" in English. However, the word actually means "blue mist." So the question is: Is it simply a mistranslation based on the sound of the word, or is "mist" enough like "smoke" that it makes no difference either way?

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The biggest mini golf place in the area is Old MacDonald's Farm, in Sevierville (pronounced like the word "Severe.")


It’s worth checking out if you’re into mini golf. We always have fun there.


We won a pirate ball. Gar.


Unfortunately, the one pinball machine (“Ripley’s Believe It or Not,” naturally) was out of order. But at least there was Skeeball.


There's also an arcade.


Ding, ding, ding!


Because I’m awesome like that.


All three courses converge on the henhouse ball return.


Pretty good scarecrow imitation, I think.


It’s right out in front of the area’s largest outlet mall, Tanger (pronounced like the space drink by the locals).


“Pigs Do Fly” is Old Macdonald’s advertising tag line.


The guard dog pops out if you hit the ball underneath him.


I have no idea what I'm doing here.


All three courses are of the “interactive talking animals” variety.


Misty tries her hand at the Chicken Course.


As is usually the case with these sorts of things, though, I can’t tell any difference.


And Porky Putts is the hardest.


Chicken Egg-Spress is the medium one.


The Udder Course is allegedly the easiest.


There are three separate 18-hole courses.


It's part of the small Ripley's ("Believe It or Not") empire here in Sever County.

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