Posts Tagged ‘Great Smoky Mountains’

Frankfort Resident Grayson Thurman Wins 2019 Pigeon Forge Path To Fame Grand Championship

PIGEON FORGE, Tennessee (June 26, 2019)—Frankfort, Kentucky, resident Grayson Thurman won the 2019 Pigeon Forge Path To Fame talent competition grand championship on Saturday, June 22. Thurman competed against 13 other performers at the Smoky Mountain Opry theater.

Thurman, 18, was one of four semi-finalists selected from 34 Path To Fame contestants at the Lyric Theatre in Lexington on March 30. He performed “Honesty” to earn his semi-finalist spot.

Joining Thurman in the top four performance slots were Kassey King, 20, from Kokomo, Indiana; Emma Lovett, 23, from Alabaster, Alabama; and Gabriel Winn, 17, from Tipton, Indiana.

During the final competition, Thurman once again performed “Honesty,” a song made popular by Billy Joel. The performance garnered the judges’ attention, and Thurman returned to the stage to sing “How Many Kings.”

Thurman began singing four years ago in school and church. He performed the national anthem for the 2019 state basketball tournament and has sung at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. He is a three-time (2016-18) participant in Belmont University’s vocal camp and has attended the GRAMMY/National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Music Camp, both in Nashville. His musical influences range from the Beatles and Glen Campbell to Aerosmith and Johnny Cash.

Thurman is a recent graduate of Franklin County High School in Frankfort, Kentucky. He will attend Belmont University this fall where he plans to major in commercial music.

Thurman immediately captured the attention of Nashville talent executive and Path To Fame professional mentor John Alexander, co-founder and CEO of BandTwango. “Grayson wowed us in Lexington with a spectacular version of the song ‘Honesty’, and he stepped up at the finals with a rendition that was even more powerful than before,” Alexander said. “I look forward to working with Grayson over the next year to help him realize his dreams and grow as a performer.” Alexander discovered country stars Kelsea Ballerini and Patty Loveless, among others.

As the Pigeon Forge Path To Fame talent competition grand champion, Thurman wins a year of monthly consultations with Alexander as well as a career consultation with country artist Carly Pearce. Professional photography and videography sessions, media training and introductions to other entertainment industry executives complete the grand prize package which includes tools to help Thurman advance his career.

“The performers represented in the Pigeon Forge Path To Fame championship are representative of the great talent we saw in Birmingham, Lexington and Indianapolis this year,” said Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism Executive Director Leon Downey. “We’re eager to see where each performer’s path to fame takes them but, hopefully, back to Pigeon Forge.”

Home to a variety of musical productions and dinner shows, Pigeon Forge’s theatre community has helped launch the careers of Pearce, who performed at Dollywood theme park and Country Tonite theater, American Idol alum Janelle Arthur, singer/songwriter/actress Diana DeGarmo, Grand Ole Opry member Craig Morgan and soap star Eric Martsolf.

More information about the Pigeon Forge Path To Fame talent competition is available at PFFame.com.

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Thurman photos available for download here.

 

 

National Park Hosts Women’s Work Festival

Release Date: June 10, 2019
Contact:          Dana Soehn, Dana_Soehn@nps.gov, 865-436-1207

Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host the annual Women’s Work Festival at the Mountain Farm Museum on Saturday, June 15 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The festival honors the vast contributions made by the women of Southern Appalachia. Park staff and volunteers will showcase mountain lifeways and customs that women practiced to care for their families in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

As part of the celebration, demonstrations among the historic buildings will include hearth cooking, soap making, cornshuck crafts, and use of plants for home remedies. Exhibits of artifacts and historic photographs will also provide a glimpse into the many and varied roles of rural women. The Davis-Queen house will be open for visitors to walk through with an audio exhibit featuring the last child born in the house.

In addition to the Women’s Work Festival activities, visitors will also be treated to a music jam session on the porch of the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. Music jam sessions are held every first and third Saturday of the month from May through October on the porch from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

All activities are free to the public. The Mountain Farm Museum is located on Newfound Gap Road adjacent to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, 2 miles north of Cherokee, North Carolina. For additional information call the visitor center at 828-497-1904.

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Public Affairs Office

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

107 Park Headquarters Road

Gatlinburg, TN  37738

Dana Soehn, 865-436-1207 (office), 865-712-4928 (mobile)

Jamie Sanders, 865-436-1203 (office), 865-410-2405 (mobile)

DOLLYWOOD OFFICIALLY OPENS LARGEST EXPANSION IN PARK HISTORY

Guests experience $37 million Wildwood Grove for the first time

 

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (May 10, 2019)— Dollywood again solidified its place among the nation’s premier family destinations as Dolly Parton today officially opened Wildwood Grove, the largest expansion in park history. Parton opened the fascinating new land to visitors ready to enjoy its 11 thrilling new experiences. During an early morning media event, Parton shared the inspiration and dreams that led to the creation of Wildwood Grove, calling the area the new standard for Dollywood.

At $37 million, Wildwood Grove is Dollywood theme park’s largest capital investment ever and is the first new area added to Dollywood since Wilderness Pass in 2008. The biggest adventure in Dollywood’s history provides guests of all sizes unique experiences to enjoy together as a family.

“When I was a little girl growing up in the hills of the Smoky Mountains, I’d often let my imagination just run away—something I still do now—dreaming these big dreams about what it’d be like to venture off with a family of bears in to the woods or how fun it would be to hitch a ride with the butterflies and dragonflies,” Parton said. “All us kids would splash and play in the creeks and ponds around home and have these daydreams about the world around us, and that’s what’s so special about Wildwood Grove. We’ve been able to create a new area to allow families to experience some of those exact dreams we all had when we were little.

“Wildwood Grove is so special to me because so many of the same daydreams and imaginations from my childhood have now found a perfect place at my Dollywood. I hope families will enjoy laughing, playing and exploring together in this great new place that truly does feel like home for me.”

The Dollywood Company President Craig Ross explained the significance of the newest addition to the storied theme park.

“Without doubt, this is one of the most exciting days in the history of our company,” Ross explained. “It is rare in our industry that a park adds a completely new land in its entirety, and as we continue to grow and set attendance records, we needed to add more area to give guests more room to spread out and explore. Additionally, we were able to take many of Dolly’s childhood dreams and create experiences that are uniquely Smoky Mountain-themed and really help tell the story of this beautiful area.

“I know our guests will be thrilled with the great diversity of attractions they will be able to enjoy when they visit Wildwood Grove. We’re extremely proud of the fact that there are experiences here that every member of the family will love and enjoy.”

After stepping into Wildwood Grove, imagination takes flight, delivering explorers on a journey of discovery in this breathtaking area. Remarkable sights await visitors throughout the land. In the distance, the breathtaking Wildwood Tree catches the eye as lively butterflies shimmer in the daylight. Families laugh and play, taking rides inside giant acorns at Treetop Tower and aboard a thrilling “leaf boat” on the Great Tree Swing.

Even the bears are friendly in Wildwood Grove, as they let guests meander with them through their own natural habitat at the Black Bear Trail. If smaller guests need a quick break, Hidden Hollow contains a 4,000 sq. ft. climate-controlled area with climbing structures, slides and games where kids and their parents can enjoy play time full of exploration.

Nearby, families scream with delight as they take a ride with Tennessee’s state symbol—the mockingbird—in an experience they control themselves at The Mad Mockingbird. Others dip and dart through geysers while suspended from dragonflies on the area’s signature ride attraction, Dragonflier.

At the heart of it all is the Wildwood Tree. This focal point is a beacon for all, drawing families to watch the butterflies play in its leafy canopy, while encouraging others to splash and play in the winding creek that flows at its base. As the daylight fades, families can bask in a colorful kaleidoscope of summer fun as the area glows to life.

Wildwood Grove also features new merchandise and dining options for park guests. Till & Harvest, which is expected to open around Memorial Day, provides the perfect blend of Smoky Mountain flavors and fresh Mexican cuisine. The menu features a variety of build-your-own style entrees such as burritos, bowls, salads and nachos all filled with wood-fired meats, fresh vegetables and flavorful sauces. Along with the Smoky Mountain Mexican flavors, Till & Harvest also provides a spacious open-air patio for families to enjoy the sights and sounds of Wildwood Grove while they enjoy their meal.

Mountain Grove Merchants is the one-stop-shop for guests looking for the perfect gift or souvenir to celebrate their adventure in Wildwood Grove.

Nearly $1 million was invested in Wildwood Grove’s landscaping, with more than 400 trees and 2,300 shrubs creating a beautiful, yet decidedly natural atmosphere to enjoy. As the landscaping continues to mature, the visual appeal of the area will only increase.

Each day of exploration in Wildwood Grove is an experience families don’t want to miss. These merry memory making moments are certain to become a treasured part of every family’s visit.

WILDWOOD GROVE FACTS

  • The Wildwood Tree comes to life each evening during a unique nighttime experience which begins June 15. Each season of the year features a spectacular new experience for guests. The Wildwood Tree features nearly 650 lighted butterflies (orange, blue, yellow, pink and multi-colored) and almost 9000 leaves.
  • Dragonflier— This thrilling suspended roller coaster lets guests soar with a dragonfly as it dips and darts along the gushing geysers and lush landscape of Wildwood Grove. (Vekoma 453m suspended coaster) (1486 ft. in length)
  • Black Bear Trail— Riders hop on the back of these friendly bears for a spirited trek through their natural habitat. (Metallbau Emmeln Pony Trek)
  • Great Tree Swing— Guests aboard this thrilling “leaf boat” swing back and forth just like a leaf falling from a giant sycamore tree. (Zamperla Galleon)
  • Treetop Tower— This family tower gives guests a sky-high view of Wildwood Grove as they soar nearly 40 feet in the air. Riders, seated inside giant acorns, spin around the top of a tall oak tree before gently drifting back to the grove floor. (Zamperla Samba Tower)
  • The Mad Mockingbird— Tennessee’s state bird—the mockingbird—gives visitors a lift as it flies in a high speed circle around a tall tree. Riders control their ride experience by moving a sail as the birds rush above the ground. (Larson Flying Scooter)
  • Frogs & Fireflies— Adventurous guests can hop aboard one of these friendly frogs as they chase each other in a spirited race around the lily pad. (Zamperla Jump Around)
  • Hidden Hollow- This 4,000 sq. ft., climate-controlled area allows families to explore and play in an indoor environment.
  • Wildwood Creek features pop jets, splashing pools and more wet play activities, while the dry play area at Wildwood Creek features “music instruments” for guests to enjoy.
  • Three new costume characters call Wildwood Grove home. Flit and Flutter serve as Wildwood Grove’s ambassadors and Benjamin Bear loves to make new friends. Characters will have scheduled opportunities to meet guests each day.

 

For more information about Wildwood Grove or Dollywood’s 2019 season, please visit Dollywood.com or call 1-800-DOLLYWOOD.

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About The Dollywood Company:   A highly-awarded and widely-recognized leader in the amusement industry, The Dollywood Company consists of the 150-acre Dollywood theme park; the 35-acre Dollywood’s Splash Country; Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa; and Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Cabins. As unique as its namesake and owner Dolly Parton, Dollywood is the 2010 Applause Award winner, the theme park industry’s highest accolade; winner of more than 35 Golden Ticket Awards; and recipient of 26 Brass Ring Awards for Live Entertainment (more than any other theme park in the world). The park is located near Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and has been named a top three US theme park by USA Today on multiple occasions. Dollywood is open nine months a year (mid-March through early January) and offers rides and attractions, shows, and crafters authentic to the East Tennessee region. Dollywood’s Splash Country, recognized by the Travel Channel and TripAdvisor as one of the country’s most beautiful water parks and named 2009’s Must-See Waterpark by the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions, operates from mid-May to Labor Day. Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa, which received the 2017 Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor, provides guests spectacular mountain views and family-friendly amenities next door to Dollywood theme park and Dollywood’s Splash Country. Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Cabins offers luxurious cabin accommodations overlooking Dollywood. For more information, call 1-800-Dollywood or visit dollywood.com. Operating days and hours vary.

 

Festival of Nations Kicks Off Dollywood’s Biggest Season Ever!

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (Monday, March 11, 2019)- Dollywood’s thrilling 2019 season begins with one of the park’s greatest Festival of Nations lineups ever! The event, which runs March 16-April 14, features exhilarating new headline shows, the return of the Passport to Foods and special cooking demonstrations, including opportunities to see world-renowned Chef Pepin whip up his favorite dishes. Season passholders can visit a special preview day event on March 15.

Guests can experience the spirit of the Smokies at Dollywood while also taking a trip around the globe thanks to authentic glimpses into a number of fascinating cultures. It’s a vibrant and exciting way to celebrate spring break!

Guests can start their globetrotting adventure by enjoying the great new headline shows visiting this season. Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba is a fusion dance and music company that mixes Hispanic and Caribbean cultures into each performance. Considered to include some of the best performers from Cuba, the group has been together for more than 25 years and has entertained on five continents. Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba can be found in DP’s Celebrity Theater.

Billed as the first interactive drum-theater experience, Drumstruck leaves families laughing and creating memories to remember for years to come. As guests enter Showstreet Palace Theater, they will find drums placed in each seat throughout the venue. Members of the audience use these drums to become part of the show, playing along with the performance on stage. This high-energy production weaves South African music and culture with West African rhythms.

Guests also can let their taste buds travel the world thanks to the new Passport to Food. This expanded international menu lets guests enjoy savory and sweet delights from a number of countries, including grilled beef skewers from Trinidad, poutine and fried cheese curds from Canada, and beef bulgogi nachos over wonton chips from South Korea. A number of refreshing drinks also are available and serve as the perfect complement to the delectable dishes available as part of the passport. A wide range of international pastries and desserts tempt those with a sweet tooth.

Chef Pepin, a well-known celebrity chef from Cuba, hosts several cooking demonstrations during the opening weekend of the festival, while additional chefs share their secrets each subsequent weekend during Festival of Nations. Cooking demonstrations currently are scheduled to take place each Saturday and Sunday at noon and 2 p.m. in Dollywood’s Market Square area.

Dollywood’s 2019 Festival of Nations lineup also includes the following shows and acts:

Invaders Steel Orchestra- One of the world’s oldest and most respected steel drum bands, Invaders Steel Orchestra celebrates more than 75 years of creating festive music for audiences around the world. This guest-favorite group returns to Dollywood to bring the tropical sounds of the Caribbean to the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. While the songs they play are familiar, the unique sounds of Invaders Steel Orchestra’s drums will transport guests to a sandy beach far away.  Location: The Valley Theater

Atahualpa – Hailing from Ecuador, Atahualpa combines native Incan instruments with contemporary backups to celebrate the history and culture of the Andes Mountains. Atahualpa’s mix of songs includes contemporary music, South American dance rhythms, and the traditional music of the Andes. Through their sharing of music, culture and heritage, Atahualpa hopes to promote brotherhood, friendship and peace to all the people of the world. Location: Showstreet Gazebo

De Temps Antan- Traveling from Quebec, Canada, De Temps Antan explores and performs the time-honored melodies from Quebec’s musical past. This talented trio combines contemporary music, uncontrolled laughter, deep-routed couplets and sudden, impromptu shifts for memorable songs that speak to the familiar rhythms of yesteryear. Location: Back Porch Theater (Performing March 16- 24).

Les Grands Hurleurs- Les Grands Hurleurs of Quebec, Canada has pushed boundaries and incorporate a variety of musical influences for their own special sound. Paying respect to their traditional roots while creating original music, this trio flirts with classical, Manouche, electronica and folk music for shows that bring audiences alive. Prepare to experience a musical journey with groovy, energetic and swing styles. Location: Back Porch Theater (Performing March 27- April 14)

Dollywood’s Festival of Nations begins what is to become the park’s biggest season ever. The largest expansion in the park’s history, Wildwood Grove, opens this spring to provide families with thrilling new experiences and attractions for guests to explore together. Summer kicks off with Dollywood’s Barbeque & Bluegrass (May 24- June 2), while the park’s Summer Celebration (June 22- Aug. 4) features later hours and the first chance to experience the wonder of Wildwood Grove at night. Dollywood’s Harvest Festival presented by Humana (Sept. 27-Nov. 2) features Southern gospel’s greatest performers alongside the guest-favorite Great Pumpkin LumiNights. Dollywood’s 2019 season concludes with the eleven-time winner for Best Theme Park Christmas Event, Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas presented by Humana, Nov. 9-Jan. 4, 2020.

If there has ever been a year to take advantage of the value of a Dollywood season pass, this is it. With the opening of Wildwood Grove and a vast amount of entertainment and festivals (all included with park admission) available throughout the season, guests certainly will want to make several return visits in 2019.

Guests can learn more about Dollywood’s biggest season ever by visiting www.dollywood.com or calling 1-800-DOLLYWOOD.

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Full Artist Lineup Announced for Dollywood’s Rock The Smokies

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (March 8, 2019) — Families and church groups looking for an inspirational way to put an exclamation point at the end of summer should circle Aug. 24 on their calendars. Dollywood’s Rock the Smokies returns with headline performances in DP’s Celebrity Theater by For King & Country (“Fix My Eyes”) and Zach Williams (“Chain Breaker”).

The Smokies will rock with the hit music of several of contemporary Christian music’s biggest names during this extremely popular annual event. Tickets sold out early last season and the same will be true for this year’s fifth anniversary event. Special early bird pricing is available now through June 28 and is available at rockthesmokies.com.

Tauren Wells, Micah Tyler and Jordan Feliz are set to perform on additional stages throughout the park. All performances outside of DP’s Celebrity Theater are free with park admission. Mr. Talkbox, a four-time Grammy winner, and Egypt Speaks, a dynamic author and spoken word artist, serve as emcees for the headline performances at Celebrity Theater.

Meet & Greet opportunities with Rock the Smokies artists are available for anyone who visits the Rock the Smokies website and follows the link to sponsor a child through Compassion International. Special Dollywood season passholder pricing also is available on the event website.

By combining all the adventure of a day at the theme park with great music, Dollywood has crafted a unique event packed with fun for all ages. A ticket purchase includes admission to Dollywood; discounts are available for groups, season passholders, and guests who order tickets early. Packages are available that include VIP seating, t-shirts, pictures with the artists, and much more!

For more information about the event, visit rockthesmokies.com. To learn more about multi-day ticket options or 2019 Dollywood season passes, visit Dollywood.com or call 1-800-Dollywood.

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New Smoky Mountain Adventure Opening This Spring To Showcase National Park in Unique Way

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (March 7, 2019) — A new adventure experience, unlike anything currently available, opens next month in the Great Smoky Mountains.

PINK® Adventure Tours is a premier off-road adventure company founded more than 60 years ago. What started as America’s first Jeep® tour now offers signature excursions in Sedona, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and soon the Smoky Mountains.

“We are excited to join the community surrounding the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and offer visitors a one-of-a-kind opportunity,” Senior Vice President Billy Johnson shared. “The Smokies are already surrounded by fabulous lodging, dining, and endless fun. The mountains themselves have the incredible views and history. We provide more than sightseeing. It’s an exciting and informative experience of a picture-perfect national treasure in specially-outfitted PINK® Jeeps®.”

The well-established company is setting up its Pigeon Forge-based operation to offer visitors from near and far a unique perspective of the mountains. More exciting details about the guided and narrated tours will be announced soon, but the Smoky Mountain team will help offer unforgettable excursions and up-close encounters with the beauty and splendor of the mountains.

“Imagine spending your vacation riding with the open-air feeling of a convertible, surrounded by one of the most visited, picturesque places in the country next to your closest friends and family,” Johnson explained. “Our PINK® Jeep® Wranglers with canopy tops and expertly trained guides ensure that every ride is memorable beyond words.”

PINK® Jeep® Wranglers are customized from top to bottom to ensure tours are always safe, comfortable and exciting. Plus, they offer extra passenger room, a superior on-road ride and amazing off-road capabilities.

Of course, everyone asks, “Why PINK?” The company’s founder and his wife picked the color pink for their Jeeps, after seeing a striking Hawaiian beach hotel in the late 1950s. The iconic pink color has become synonymous with the best guided tours in its locations. More than 5 million guests have shared their vacations with PINK® Adventure Tours in just the last 20 years.

For more information about booking tours this spring, summer, and fall, please visit www.SmokyMountainTours.com or call (844) 710-PINK (7465).

Herschend Enterprises purchased PINK® Adventure Tours last year, marking its entry into the adventure travel industry. Herschend Enterprises owns a portfolio of companies that are committed to providing wholesome, immersive entertainment which allows families to connect in meaningful ways.

Media Contact: Kay Watson | kay@thespininggroup.com | mobile: 865.384.3500

Icelandic Gymnasts Make 6,000-Mile First-time Journey to Pigeon Forge

PIGEON FORGE, Tennessee (Feb. 11, 2019)—Competitive sports continues to prove their worth in Pigeon Forge (Tennessee) as nine gymnasts, two coaches and three chaperones will make a 3,000-plus-mile journey—one way—from Iceland to compete in the Make It Count Gymnastics Classic (Feb. 16-18) at the LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge.

More than 1,000 gymnasts from 11 states will take to the floor of the LeConte Center’s 100,500-square-foot clear-span space. The three-day event is expected to attract 5,500 spectators, athletes and coaches. None will have traveled as far as the Icelandic team.

This marks the sixth time the Make It Count Gymnastics Classic has taken place at the LeConte Center, and the first time the Maryville, Tennessee-based organization has hosted an international team.

“This trip was two years in the making,” said Make It Count’s Tracy Counts. “Our coaches became friends with the Icelandic coaches at a 2017 Pennsylvania gymnastics camp, and we encouraged them to come to Pigeon Forge for this event. Next thing we know, the girls began fund-raising—including baking thousands of cookies for sale—to make the trip happen.” The athletes’ first introduction to the Great Smoky Mountains was the lyrics and music of local favorite Dolly Parton.

“Iceland’s team listened to a lot of Dolly’s music on their flight from Pennsylvania to Iceland in anticipation of making this trip to Pigeon Forge,” Counts added.

In addition to any awards the team earns on the competition floor, the Icelandic team’s coaches knew the trip to Pigeon Forge would gift the girls by broadening their horizons, and allowing them to experience different things and places while getting to know people with different backgrounds. “They would also discover that all people have a lot in common regardless of where they live,” said Sesselja Jarvela.

The 232,599-square-foot LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge was designed for many types of activities, many of which feature competitive sports. In addition to gymnastics, the venue hosts cheerleading, volleyball and basketball events. In its first five years of operation, the LeConte Center has hosted more than 150 events and driven an additional $175 million in attendee spending in the city.

“In addition to providing a great travel experience and lifelong memories for this Icelandic team, their trip to Pigeon Forge continues to demonstrate the LeConte Center’s commitment to its mission, and that includes introducing new people to our family-friendly vacation destination,” said Leon Downey, executive director of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism. “Hopefully, the team members will become Pigeon Forge ambassadors for us at home in Iceland and in the many other destinations they visit.”

Both the LeConte Center and the Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge were intended to serve as catalysts for bringing new first-time visitors to the city. During Ripken’s nine-month 2018 season, the facility hosted 925 teams from 25 states, Canada and Puerto Rico, with some athletes, coaches and their families traveling from as far away as California, New York, and Texas.

Tournament participants, coaches, and their families contribute to the local economy through overnight lodging stays, ticket purchases to area attractions, restaurant dining and other purchases.

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The Island in Pigeon Forge Announces Plans for New Flying Theater Ride

PIGEON FORGE, Tennessee  (Feb. 18, 2019)— The Island in Pigeon Forge, recently named the country’s sixth best amusement park by TripAdvisor, will soon soar to new heights with the addition of a world class flying theater experience.

The $20 million investment will combine a state-of-the-art ride system and a custom film featuring some of the nation’s most beautiful natural wonders and iconic landmarks. Riders will experience the movements, sounds, scents, and mists of a breathtaking aerial adventure across the United States.

“We are very excited to bring another premier attraction to The Island in Pigeon Forge,” said President Bob McManus. “This flying theater will truly be a one-of-a-kind, immersive entertainment experience.  From The Island, guests will be transported to places that they otherwise may never have the opportunity to see, and experience the beauty of America in a unique and unforgettable way.”

The Island selected the flying theater from industry-leader Dynamic Attractions, who has built some of the most popular rides in the world for theme park leaders including Disney and Universal Studios.

The Island in Pigeon Forge is a 23-acre eat, shop, play, and stay entertainment destination offering affordable fun for families, night and day, with free parking and free admission. The Island is a must-see tourist destination in the region, located in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which draws over 11 million annual visitors.

The new flying theater will be located adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel, a 200-foot observation wheel, and The Island’s multi-million dollar show fountain. The Island also provides the area’s newest shopping options with over 250,000 square feet of retail space, unique dining experiences including Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen, and on-site lodging at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Island Hotel and Margaritaville Island Inn.

The new flying theater attraction is in the final stages of planning and is expected to open in early 2020.  For more information about The Island in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, visit islandinpigeonforge.com or call 865-286-0119.

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Media Contact: Caitlin Gouge, caitlin@islandinpigeonforge.com      

 

The Ripken Experience Scores Winning Third Season in Pigeon Forge

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (Nov. 28, 2018) – At the completion of its third year of operation in the Smoky Mountains, The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge scored yet another homerun with baseball fans and city officials alike.

Research recently released by the city determined that The Ripken Experience was responsible for $33.8 million in visitor spending during its 2018 season which began in March and concluded in November. In that nine-month period, The Ripken Experience hosted 925 teams from 25 states, Canada and Puerto Rico, traveling from as far away as California, New York, and Texas. Other states represented are Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Further demonstrating the sports facility’s success is that 99 percent of those who visited the facility reside outside of Sevier County. Pigeon Forge is located in Sevier County just six miles from the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Tournament participants, coaches, and their families contribute to the local economy through overnight lodging stays, ticket purchases to area attractions, restaurant dining and other purchases.

Since opening its doors in March 2016, more than 2,100 youth baseball teams and 150 high school softball teams have taken the fields at The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge for competition in 80 events. In total, more than 33,500 players and coaches have traveled to play ball on fields that offer unobstructed views of the Great Smoky Mountains, with an additional 1,000 teams expected to travel to the complex for competition in 2019.

“The partnership with Pigeon Forge has been fantastic. The fact that the complex has had this positive impact on the city is wonderful and confirms what we all had hoped and believed would be the result of the project. I am excited to continue to grow with our great partner, and we are all proud of being a member of this wonderful community.” Cal Ripken, Jr. said.

The appeal of Pigeon Forge as a family vacation destination was a major reason the city built the $22.5 million complex and contracted with Ripken Baseball to operate it.

“The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge continues to demonstrate its ability to attract young people and their families to Pigeon Forge,” said Pigeon Forge City Manager Earlene Teaster. “We continue to see more and more Ripken guests who are first-time visitors to Pigeon Forge, which further underscores the value of the city’s investment in this fine property.”

The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge youth complex is located on a ridge above Pigeon Forge. Each field borrows its design inspiration from current and former ballparks highlighting the professional player progression from the Minor to Major Leagues, including Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore.

The others are Calfee Park in Pulaski, Va., the oldest park in the Appalachian League; Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C., known as “Little Fenway”; Engel Stadium in Chattanooga, Tenn., a filming location for the “42” movie about Jackie Robinson; BB&T Ballpark in Winston-Salem, N.C.; and Isotopes Park in Albuquerque, N.M.

The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge hosts tournaments nine months out of the year and offers year-round branded events in its 14,000-square-foot clubhouse. Tournaments are free to spectators, and parking is free at the complex.

Visitor information about Pigeon Forge is available online at MyPigeonForge.com and toll-free at 800-251-9100. To learn more Ripken Baseball and for The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge tournament schedule, visit RipkenBaseball.com.

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Cal Ripken, Jr. headshot and The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge facility images available here. Photo credit The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge

 

Dolly Parton Selects Great Smoky Mountains for Second Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (Oct. 4, 2018)–Keep an eye to the spyglass, mateys; Dolly’s pirates will be searching for treasure in the Great Smoky Mountains next summer!

After nearly a decade of rave reviews and financial success on the Carolina coast, Dolly Parton’s newest Pirates Voyage dinner attraction is slated to open in the spring. “The show has been so successful in Myrtle Beach that we kept looking at Pigeon Forge and wondering why we didn’t already have a Pirates show there,” Parton said. “We have the perfect location, in one of the hottest areas of Pigeon Forge, and the time is now for my pirates to stake claim to the Great Smoky Mountains!”

When complete, the 21,000-square-foot arena, adjacent to The Island in Pigeon Forge, will be the stage for Crimson and Sapphire pirates to battle on deck, in the water and in the sky above their full-sized pirate ships in a 15-foot-deep indoor lagoon. Spectacular acrobatic competitions, live animals and an original music score by Parton and Mark Brymer creates an immersive adventure experience all while guests enjoy a spectacular four-course pirate feast.

“We’re glad we can finally share Dolly’s exciting news,” Jim Rule, World Choice Investments CEO said.  “For some time, we have been working on set and costume designs, unique show elements for this theater, and animal and staff training. We’re all looking forward to opening in 2019.”

Additional details about the project will be released soon.  Site construction is slated to begin in early January with an opening projected for spring.

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About World Choice Investments: Founded in 1988, World Choice Investments, LLC, doing business as Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner Attraction, Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show, operates dinner attraction venues for family fun and adventure in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Branson, Missouri and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Our shows feature special effects, musical productions, live animals and a four-course family feast.

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Media Contacts:

Pete Owens: (865) 755-7972 or powens@wciinvest.com

Steve Cruz: (865) 774-8136, (865) 410-0591 or stevec@wciinvest.com