Archive for the ‘Dollywood’ Category

Head South for Holiday Lights, Travel Writers Say

Half of the 10 destinations the Society of American Travel Writers recommends for holiday lights are in the Southeast.

SATW members compiled a list of 10 destinations with light-up-the-night displays that might be lesser known than destinations such as Times Square in New York but still very much worth the trip.

The five destinations in the Southeast:
Winterfest lights TrainStation_067
* Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Sevierville in Tennessee for Smoky Mountain Winterfest
* Charlotte for Speedway Christmas at the Charlotte Motor Speedway
* St. Augustine
* Louisville for Lights Under Louisville in Louisville Mega Cavern (yes, holiday lights in a cave)
* Pine Mountain, Ga., for Callaway Gardens

The other five scatterered around the country:

* Festival of Lights in Kauai, Hawaii
* Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Mo.
* The Newport Beach Boat Parade in California
* Nela Park in Cleveland
* Old Town Luminaria Tour in Albuquerque, N.M.

Here’s a link to the list and event descriptions: ow.ly/gb4wS

Festive Times All Year in Pigeon Forge

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. – Pick a month, any month, and you’ll find a festival or special event in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

This resort town next to Great Smoky Mountains National Park really knows how to show you a good time.

Every year starts with a mid-January salute to its neighbor with eight days of free activity called Wilderness Wildlife Week. There are classes, seminars, photography workshops, mini-concerts and hikes into the park’s 800 square miles of nature at its best.

July 4 Fireworks over Pigeon Forge’s Old Mill

February’s big event is most unusual – a salute to cowboy poetry, western music and chuck wagon cooking called Saddle Up. In March, a softer side comes out for A Mountain Quiltfest.

The city and various businesses organize the festivals and events, and a big organizer is Dollywood.

The popular theme park punctuates its almost yearlong season with an international festival in spring, a fall festival for bluegrass music and barbeque, a Southern gospel music festival and then a spectacular Christmas celebration called A Smoky Mountain Christmas.

A Smoky Mountain Christmas actually is part of a citywide celebration called Pigeon Forge Winterfest that captures all manner of events from early November through the following February

The Titanic Museum attraction gets in on the fun with a January ice-carving competition, winter snowfalls across the bow of the museum (the building looks like the famous ship) and other programs. All of 2013, for instance, is marked as “The Year of the Titanic Children” and focuses on the 133 children on the famous voyage.

Every May, thousands of people turn out for Dolly’s Homecoming Parade, which honors hometown superstar Dolly Parton. It’s all very Norman Rockwell – youthful twirling teams, high school bands, equestrian units – except that Dolly herself rides in the first float.

Mixed in during other months are car shows devoted to hot rods and nostalgic classics, a knockout 4th of July concert and fireworks event, a huge autumn crafts fair and the Salute to Veterans Parade in November.

Information about all events is online at MyPigeonForge.com or by calling 800-251-9100.

Dollywood Grabs Five Golden Ticket Awards

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (September 2012) – Dollywood received five 2012 Golden Ticket Awards, the top honor in the theme park industry.

The awards were first-time recognitions in three categories and repeats in two categories :

  • Best Food, beating out longtime winner Knoebels Amusement Resort
  • Friendliest park, upsetting 13-time winner Holiday World
  • Best New Ride for Wild Eagle, the country’s first wing-design coaster
  • Best Shows, Dollywood’s fourth consecutive win in this category
  • Best Christmas Event, Dollywood’s fifth consecutive win in this category

The awards are organized by Amusement Today magazine, and Dollywood was the host park for the ceremony this year.

Dolly Parton shows off Dollywood’s five Golden Ticket Awards for 2012

Dollywood namesake Dolly Parton attended the ceremony.

“I’m overwhelmed and overjoyed by the five Golden Ticket Awards that Dollywood won,” Parton said. “And to be there and accept all of the awards at Dollywood while we hosted the event just makes these wins even sweeter for me.”

Dollywood also ranked in five additional categories:

  • Best Park, third place
  • Best Waterpark for Dollywood’s Splash Country, fourth place;
  • Cleanest Park, second place
  • Best Water Ride for Dollywood’s Mountain Slidewinder; fourth place
  • Best Landscaping, fourth place

Golden Ticket Awards are the results of a detailed survey sent to a database of experienced and well-traveled amusement park fans around the world in balanced geographical regions.

Two Dollywood rides also were recognized during the awards event. The Wild Eagle coaster is the highest-placing new-for-2012 coaster on Amusement Today’s annual Best Steel Coaster list, while the park’s Thunderhead wooden coaster placed fourth on the Top 50 Best Wooden Coaster rankings.

National TV Puts Pigeon Forge in Spotlight

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (September 2012) – Pigeon Forge is getting a lot of love from three major broadcast networks.

ABC and NBC have put Pigeon Forge, Tenn., in the spotlight in recent weeks, and CBS will keep the string alive during the upcoming television season.

"Amazing Race" teammates Rob and Sheila Scheer

Pigeon Forge’s Rob and Sheila Scheer are ready for an around-the-world adventure on “The Amazing Race.”

ABC ‘s “Good Morning America” featured Dollywood’s new-design Wild Eagle roller coaster in a summer series of segments about thrill rides. Actor Cameron Mathison visited the popular theme park for a first-hand look and ride.

At $20 million, Wild Eagle is Dollywood’s biggest capital investment. It was the first winged coaster in the U.S., meaning that the passenger seats are on “wings” that stretch out from the coaster’s track rather than riding on top of it.

Over at NBC, a clogger from the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show in Pigeon Forge is part of a dance team that emerged from 75,000 auditioning acts to make it into the final rounds of “America’s Got Talent.”

Drake Elkin, who dances as part of the McCoy family, is part of an all-male clogging team called All That.

At CBS, a Pigeon Forge couple is about to compete on “The Amazing Race,” an around-the-world adventure that has won the Emmy Award for “Outstanding Reality-Competition Program” eight of the last nine years.

Rob Scheer, president of the company that owns the Great Smoky Mountain Lumberjack Feud, and his wife, Sheila, are one of 11 two-member teams. Scheer is a champion timber sports athlete. The series begins Sept. 30.

Army Family Deploys to Pigeon Forge Before Afghanistan

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (July 2012) – An Army family facing a sixth deployment to a war zone got some special time together in Pigeon Forge, and their experience was captured as a half-hour show for the Great American Country (GAC) cable TV network.

“Operation Pigeon Forge: A Family Story” focuses on Staff Sgt. Gerald Britt, his wife Shasta and their children Gabe and Madison. It premiers July 12 at 9:30 p.m. Eastern and has 11 more airings later in the month.

Gerald has orders to Afghanistan this fall. He has been to Iraq three times, as well as to Kosovo and Bosnia. Shasta, a veteran herself, is a civilian employee of the Family Readiness Group at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, assisting other military families with members overseas.

“Before this soldier deploys to Afghanistan, GAC deploys his family to Pigeon Forge,” said show host Nan Kelley, explaining the concept of the program.

The Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism partnered with GAC, which is available in 62 million households and online at GACTV.com, to salute the Britts.

GAC cameras tagged along with the Britts at Pigeon Forge attractions such as Dollywood, the Titanic Museum Attraction, Dixie Stampede, The Track and the Country Tonite show. The Lumberjack Feud dinner show plucked Gerald from the audience for an ax-throwing challenge. His marksmanship was solid.

The Britts’ vacation coincided with the annual Dolly Parton Homecoming Parade, and Pigeon Forge surprised them by building a float for them to ride on and receive the applause of thousands lining the parade route.

An even bigger surprise came when Dolly Parton greeted them before the parade and offered her personal thanks for their service.

“Families are hugely important to Pigeon Forge, and we are pleased that Pigeon Forge is hugely important to many families. We make memories that strengthen family bonds,” said Leon Downey, executive director of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism.

Information about all aspects of Pigeon Forge is available online at MyPigeonForge.com or by calling toll-free 1-800-251-9100.

 

Dolly Becomes ‘Splash Woman’ for Coaster Announcement

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (June 2012) – Dollywood launched America’s first wing-design roller coaster, Wild Eagle, in March and now has announced another coaster addition. This one adds water.

It is RiverRush, Tennessee’s first water coaster, which will open in May 2013 at Dollywood’s Splash Country.

“You know me. I love making a big splash, and RiverRush is all that and a whole lot more!” Parton said, dressed as super hero “Splash Woman” at the coaster’s announcement.

RiverRush will be a hydromagnetic coaster with climbs, drops, twists and tight turns – just like a traditional land roller coaster – but you’ll need a swimming suit to ride it.

Four-passenger toboggan-style boats will zoom through a 1,175-foot-long track after making an initial climb of 237 feet. The first drop is at a 45-degree angle. It will be four stories tall and have a footprint of more than an acre.

Barbeque and Bluegrass at Dollywood

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (May 26, 2012) — Barbeque and bluegrass music are two of the South’s biggest traditions, and they unite at Dollywood from May 26-June 10 during the Dollywood Barbeque and Bluegrass Festival.

Three hundred free concerts are spread throughout the festival. Performers include Ricky Skaggs, Kentucky Thunder and Rhonda Vincent. There’s even a dose of western music, too, from Riders in the Sky, who have two shows each day on June 9 and 10.

The park’s Market Square area becomes Barbeque Headquarters, offering guests their choice of Tennessee pulled park, ribs and chicken. The Backstage Restaurant has a new barbeque menu, and if you gather up family and friends, you can challenge a three-pound slice of apple pie cut from a pie that  weighs 25 pounds to start.

All park details are at Dollywood.com.

Pigeon Forge, Smokies To Get PBS Exposure

SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. (February 2012) – Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Sevierville, three gateway cities to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, are featured in an upcoming episode of the new PBS series “Getting Away Together.”

The episode features some of the area’s most popular attractions: Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP), Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, Dollywood theme park, Dollywood Cabins, Dollywood’s Splash Country waterpark, Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Dinner Attraction, the Old Mill, River Romp and the Apple Barn Cider Mill & General Store.

The episode follows three generations of the Colgan family from Bedford, Ind. When Peggy and David Colgan were married in 1962, it was Peggy who insisted the couple honeymoon in the Smokies.

The two made a lifelong commitment to return to the area, a commitment the couple has honored each year. Their 50th anniversary is this summer.

The Colgans were selected from more than 250 families who submitted photographs and stories on Facebook last summer. The episode, which features all 12 Colgans, was filmed in August 2011.

“Getting Away Together” highlights the rapidly growing trend of sharing a vacation rental with friends and family.

The series airs on PBS member stations that reach almost 70 percent of the U.S. Episodes also are available at www.gettingawaytogether.com.

Sevier County provides entry to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which hosts more than nine million recreational visits each year, the highest visitation of any of the 58 national parks.

Pigeon Forge Ranks #4 on TripAdvisor List

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (January 2012) – TripAdvisor named Pigeon Forge, Tenn., No. 4 on its list of the top 15 U.S. destinations “on the rise for 2012.”

Pigeon Forge is a gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and host to more than 10 million visitors every year.

Tennessee music mecca, Nashville, topped the TripAdvisor list, followed by Austin, Texas, and Fort Myers, Fla. Pensacola, Fla., was in the fifth spot behind Pigeon Forge.

“These U.S. destinations have really piqued TripAdvisor travelers’ interest over the last year, making them great options to consider as thoughts turn to vacation planning for 2012,” said Karen Drake, senior director of communications for TripAdvisor.

In slots six through 10 were Louisville, Ky., Branson, Mo., Scottsdale, Ariz., Saint Augustine, Fla., and Charleston, S.C.

In slots 11 through 15 were Albuquerque, N.M., Wildwood, N.J., Asheville, N.C., Park City, Utah, and Santa Cruz, Calif.

Among Pigeon Forge’s attractions are Dollywood, a dozen theaters, outlet and specialty shopping, diverse restaurants and family activities such as miniature golf and go-cart tracks.

Other recent praise for Pigeon Forge:
• A TIME.com feature cited Pigeon Forge as one of its “9 Most Christmassy Towns in America.”
• Positive consumer reviews in 2011 led to a Travelers’ Choice Award for the Inn at Christmas Place from TripAdvisor when the hotel was named one of the Top 25 Hotels in the U.S. It polled sixth on that list.
• Pigeon Forge itself was named to the TripAdvisor list of the Top 10 Best Family Destinations, and the Inn at Christmas Place was named the top-reviewed family-friendly hotel in the city.

Information about all aspects of visiting Pigeon Forge is available online at MyPigeonForge.com or by calling toll-free to 1-800-251-9100.