PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (March 2014) – Spring break can mean mountains as well as beaches, especially for families, which makes Pigeon Forge and Great Smoky Mountains National Park popular destinations for winter-weary people from many states.
Here’s a collection of new and almost-new activities for the spring break crowd.
- The Titanic Museum Attraction makes history come alive with a new gallery devoted to the legacy of Margaret Brown – the woman you know as “the Unsinkable Molly Brown.” Students who were introduced to the flamboyant Ms. Brown in the movies may be surprised to learn the full story of a colorful woman who truly was a legend in her own lifetime.
- The Dollywood theme park opens March 22, and its big new attraction is the FireChaser Express, a family-friendly rollercoaster that launches both forwards and backwards. FireChaser Express sends riders zooming on a 2,427-foot-long track through the park’s Wilderness Pass area. It is the first component of a $300 million investment commitment Dollywood has made for the next decade. Coming next is the 300-room DreamMore Resort, planned for a 2015 opening.
- Also at Dollywood is the chance to experience the cultures of more than 20 countries during the annual Festival of Nations (March 22-April 21). One highlight is “Mother Africa,” which comes to Pigeon Forge after a recent run in New York. This 45-minute show combines African dancing, music and acrobatics in a world-class demonstration of rich rhythms and songs celebrating diverse traditions from across Africa. While the artists hail from various countries, they perform as one in this high-energy production. All Festival of Nations shows are included with park admission.
- The Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster is a control-your-own-speed thrill ride that follows a looping one-mile route down a forested Great Smoky Mountain ridge. This attraction opened last year and was an instant hit. Patrons have enjoyed gliding down the track ever since – even during winter snowfalls.
- The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel, a 20-story-tall Ferris wheel visible from throughout Pigeon Forge, offers a panoramic view of the surrounding territory, especially towering Mt. LeConte in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The gondolas are enclosed, making the quiet rides comfortable regardless of the weather. The attraction is at the Island in Pigeon Forge, an 18-acre complex of retail, attraction, lodging and dining businesses that also recently debuted the Island Show Fountains, a $3 million attraction, whose 95 jets shoot water high into the air to musical accompaniment.
- Go-cart excitement jumped to a new level with the opening of Xtreme Racing. Daring drivers can reach 40 miles per hour in the GT-5 and RT-8 model go-carts powered by 270-cc engines. There are single and dual-passenger carts.
- Experiencing the weightlessness and the roll and tumble of being in space is the focus of a new four-person gyroscope attraction at WonderWorks. It is the Astronaut Training Challenge, which joins a collection of more than 100 hands-on exhibits and attractions that bring science alive at WonderWorks. Others include a hurricane room with wind that blows 65 miles an hour, an earthquake room, a space shuttle landing simulator, a ropes course and a 360-degree bicycle.
Information about all aspects of Pigeon Forge is available online at MyPigeonForge.com or with a toll-free call to 800-251-9100.
Tom Adkinson, APR