Category Archives: Attractions

Reviews and tips of the best theaters, dinner shows, mini golf, and other Pigeon Forge attractions and what to do in Pigeon Forge, TN.

Bandmaster’s Violin On Display at Titanic Museum

The violin on which Titanic bandmaster Wallace Hartley reportedly played “Nearer, My God to Thee” as the ocean liner sank April 15, 1912, is currently on exhibit at the Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge.

The violin will be on display from May 22-July 27, then it will be taken to the Titanic sister museum in Branson, Mo., for show Aug. 1-15.

On Oct. 19 the British auction house Henry Aldridge and Son will put the instrument, which was discovered seven years ago in an English attic, on the auction block. It’s expected to fetch a six-figure price from the winning bidder.

Hartley was one of the 1,517 people who died when the Titanic sank. Survivors recalled him leading musicians in performing on the ship deck as passengers boarded lifeboats in the North Atlantic.

Hartley’s body was found 10 days after the ship sank. The violin was not listed in an inventory of belongings found with the musician. But three newspaper accounts reported his body was found with his violin’s case strapped to his chest.

Aldridge and Son spent seven years having experts examine the instrument and working to trace its history. Their research shows the violin was mailed in July 1912 to Hartley’s fiancé Maria Robinson. While some people interested in the Titanic have disputed that the violin could have survived the watery tragedy, other experts vouch for its authenticity. Among the pieces studied on the violin is a silver plate engraved with the words “For Wallace on the occasion of our engagement from Maria.” Robinson gave Hartley a violin in 1910.

When Robinson died in 1939 her sister gave the violin to the Salvation Army to use. The organization’s commander then gave the violin to a musician who deemed it virtually unplayable. That teacher gave the violin to a student in the early 1940s. The descendant of that student is the instrument’s current owner. He discovered the violin in his mother’s attic in 2006.

A portion from ticket sales while the violin is shown at Pigeon Forge and Branson goes to Strings Crossings. Belmont University’s School of Music hosts the summer camp for eighth- through 12-grade violin, viola, cello and bass students.

Shaped like the doomed ocean liner’s forward half, the Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge opened in 2010. Its interior includes re-created sections of the ship and hundreds of artifacts.

Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain River Rampage

The wettest ride at Dollywood is the Smoky Mountain River Rampage.  This white water rafting style ride promises dips, plunges and lots and lots of water.  Stepping into the circular boat means that you have agreed to get drenched in the fast moving water.  The ride is located at the front of the park, in Rivertown Junction, making it easy to find and of course, making it a perfect last stop after a hot day in the park.

As you enter the line, you are going to notice one thing right off the bat, the line can get very long.  It has one of the longest, and most winding queues in the park outside of the roller coasters.  This line can really stack up.  The wait can take a good bit of time, but the folks at Dollywood have made sure that you stay under the cover of trees and buildings most of the time so that you don’t get too hot before getting really wet.  On a similar note, if it starts to rain, that’s the perfect time to head for this ride. For whatever reason, if it is raining people tend to leave the lines for water rides.  It doesn’t make a lot of sense but it does seem to happen.

River Rampage2After standing in line for a little while, you will reach the front of the line and you will see a line of circular boats lined up in front of you.  The people running the ride will help you into your boat. Make sure that you are secured in your seat before setting off on your journey.  The boats bounce merrily along the course before they begin their journey up the first hill.  This hill is the start of the fun part.  As you top the hill, you get a great view of the surrounding area outside the park, before plunging down the other side.  If you are on the downhill side of this plunge, get ready to get soaked.  After this plunge, you will be on a twisting course through rapids, beside cascades and close to waterfalls, all designed to get you as wet as possible.  Add to that, the fact that the people that are watching you get soaked can add to the fun by firing water cannons at you and you have a ride that is guaranteed to make sure you are cooled off after a hot day in the summer sun.

Once your ride is over, you arrive back at the docks, ready to disembark.  After you have gotten out of your boat you can exit, or get right back in line to ride it again.  And, if you are lucky and there is no one else in line, they might just let you ride through again without getting out of the boat at all.  Either, way you have just been on the wettest ride that Dollywood has to offer.  It is exciting, it is fun and it really knows how to take away the heat.

Dollywood’s Mystery Mine

In March of 2007, Dollywood invited its guests to take a ride on the Mystery Mine, its haunted mine car roller coaster that, at the time, was setting records and was the first roller coaster of its kind in the US.  This steel Euro Fighter style coaster features inversions, loops and at the time the steepest drop in the country.  Mystery Mine is still packing the people in with the wonderful theme-ing and the fact that it is one of the fastest rides in the park.  Located in Timber Canyon, it is on the hill as you walk toward Adventure Mountain and River Battle and it is just right up the hill from Thunderhead.

Mystery Mine is a Euro Fighter style roller coaster.  This design of coaster is the invention of the Gerstlauer corporation.  They build roller coasters all over the world and the trademark of this type of roller coaster is the beyond vertical drop.  In other words, one of the drops along the track will descend at greater then 90 degrees.  This type of drop really pours on the speed and the g-forces, making the excitement and thrill for the passengers even greater.  At the time Gerstlauer installed this ride for Dollywood it actually had the steepest drop in the world, though that spot has now been taken over by the Steel Hawg at Indiana Beach.

The theme of Mystery Mine is that you are entering an abandoned, condemned and haunted mine shaft.  You start your journey with a quick drop and several tight turns before the lift kicks in and pulls you straight up the main climb.  After this drop you are sent outside the mine building over the walking crowds below and into an Immelman style u-turn and then back into the mine.  Inside the mine shaft there is an explosion of dynamite as the car sets off through the last pieces of the track:  a 95 degree drop, after which you are pitched back into the outside world to a camera flash, taking your picture, before you start a barrel roll and a final half loop.  After the loop, you arrive back at the station.  The whole trip took you 2 and a half minutes, you reached speeds of 48 miles per hour and you were inverted in the safety of your car twice.  This is a stunning roller coaster that is still calling to thrill seekers from around the world.

Awards:

  • Best New Theme Park Attraction for 2007 by Theme Park Insider
  • 48th on Amusement Today’s Best 50 Steel Coasters for 2997
  • #2 New Ride of 2007 by Amusement Today

Mystery Mine is one of those rides you have to experience to believe.  The line does get long, the ride is not very long but you will see people get out of line after riding it and get right back in line to ride it again.  This is still one of the biggest thrills at Dollywood.  Combining aerial acrobatics, great theme-ing and of course, plenty of safety. Mystery Mine promises to bring on the thrill for decades to come.

Dollywood’s River Battle

In 2008, Dollywood opened one of the most inventive rides that they have ever put in their park.  It is a water ride, but it is so much more.  Part water gun fight, part water ride and fully interactive. The riders are not the only ones involved in the ride, the people that are watching the folks on River Battle get a chance to get in on the action as well.

The first thing you are going to notice about River Battle is the fact that it is beautifully made. It is designed with the younger visitors to the theme park in mind and Dollywood has spared no expense in making it look wonderful. The ride is decorated with plenty of Smoky Mountain critters and madness. Frogs, raccoons  bees, flowers, parts to old cars, signs and everything else come alive in the lagoon that is the course for River Battle. When you step into the boat and find a seat you will notice that you have a water gun with a spinning handle on it in front of you. The faster you spin the handle, the more water that shoots out of the gun. As the ride gets going you will be able to shoot targets and the decorations and the people walking along the path outside of the River Battle.

And, the people that you are shooting at will have the opportunity to shoot back at you! Yup, the people that are watching the ride can walk to one of the water shooters on the rail along the ride and hose down the people that are on the ride. And you can shoot back at them. In fact, if you want to stay dry around River Battle, you need to give the ride a wide berth, walking in the dry areas around the ride itself. If you stray into the wet parts of the lane around the ride, you will get wet. This pitched battle between the people on the ride, the people on other boats in the ride and the folks walking around the ride is what makes this one of the most fun sections of Dollywood.

River Battle is one of the rides in the park that doesn’t have seat belts, it doesn’t have high speed drops and spins, it is a simple ride with lots of fun and lots of water powered high-jinx. And, after you come off the ride they have family sized dryers where you can get dried off before your next adventure, or… go find another water ride, like Daredevil Falls or River Rampage and see just how wet you can get at Dollywood in one day.

Dollywood’s Daredevil Falls

I love a good log flume and Daredevil Falls at Dollywood is one of those must ride, rides each and every time I visit the park.  From the speed of the line, to the 60 foot plunge at the end of the ride, this is one of those thrill rides that combines speed with water and makes the whole experience awesome.  Add to this the fact that they take a souvenir photo of you halfway down the final plunge and you can also pick up something to remember not only the day by but also that particular ride.

The log flume and log flume style rides have been around for a long time.  In 1998, Dollywood added its own large capacity, long drop log flume to its line u of thrill rides.  As a themed ride it is beautifully done.  You are walking through a lumber camp in the Smokies – easy to imagine, seeing as you are in the Smokies already.  You get into the flume log, which looks like a log itself and you start your float around to the lift.  From the bear in the tent to the flapping of the bats wings in the cave, this leisurely float around the ride is great.  You then start the ride up the lift to the top of the ride and the waiting plunge.  At the top of the ride you are in the recreation of the lumber mill itself, complete with a saw that looks like it might saw the log you are in, in half.  You continue around the top of the ride until you get to the plunge.  You fall 60 feet down at 60 miles per hour, with your heart in your throat.  Even the most seasoned thrill seeker will feel their heart race after this plunge.

And of course, on the way down you get your picture taken.  This picture is of the whole car, so if you planned it right and you have your whole party in the boat with you, you get a souvenir of all of your expressions as you were in mid-fall, at 60 miles an hour.  This is a great way to commemorate the day.

Remember how I mentioned the speed of the line you wait in?  It is one of the quickest ride sin the park.  The logs never stop.  You simply step onto the platform and then into the moving log itself.  This constant motion keeps the line moving.  Even from the very back of the line, there is a constant flow of traffic on and off the ride.  You never feel like you have to wait very long, plus the queue itself is under cover so you are not left baking in the sun either.

Make sure that you leave time in your schedule for the Daredevil Falls the next time you go to Dollywood.  It is an awesome ride, with a great theme and a thrilling drop at the end.  Plus, if it is a hot day outside you get drenched at the end of the plunge.  So, take the plunge, get the photo and get ready for a

Southern Gospel Museum

Pigeon Forge is not only known for its major attractions like Dollywood theme park and a number of renowned dinner shows that now align the parkway, it’s also a town that welcomes in a number of gospel enthusiasts each year with a handful of conferences and events. So it’s only right that Pigeon Forge is also home to the Southern Gospel Museum.

The museum gets more than its share of foot traffic during the year with more than 1 million coming through the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame & Museum’s doors to observe the information and displays about the legends of gospel, gospel song writers and gospel musicians. The museum offers more gospel music memorabilia than you can shake a stick at and is located at one of the most traveled to parts of town – Dollywood, the state’s most visited theme park.

gospelhalloffameLearn about such legendary Southern gospel performers as the Vaughan Radio Quartet, the Stamps All-Star Quartet, the Speer Family, the LeFeveres, the Blackwood Brothers, the Chuck Wagon Gang, the Rangers, the Sunshine Boys, the Happy Goodmans, the Statesmen, the Harmoneers, the Florida Boys, the Oak Ridge Quartet, the Weatherfords, the Rebels, the Gaither Vocal Band, the Martins, the Isaacs, the McKameys and many others. In fact, more than 350 artifacts are on display at the Southern Gospel Hall of Fame, representing more than 100 groups and individuals.

Stop by the gift shop at the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame and check out one of the largest selections of gospel music in the United States. For more information about the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame & Museum, visit www.sgma.org.

Dollywood’s Mountain Slidewinder

Dollywood is full of water rides and during the summer you will find that they are a respite from the heat of the day and loads of fun.  The Mountain Slidewinder is one of those water rides.  Based out of the Owens Farm section of the park, you climb the actual hillside itself to get to the Slidewinder and then you and a set of friends enjoy the fast, exhilarating ride down the mountain.

Owens Farm is the section of Dollywood is where the new Barnstormer ride is located.  Once you are in this section, look over behind the Pig Pen play area and you will see signs directing you to the entrance for the Mountain Slidewinder.  You will start your journey to the top of the slide from there but you can also watch the other people come down from the same spot.  The last of the ride is right in front of you, a huge ride down on a raft with a splash down at the bottom before the riders walk up one way and the rafts go up the other way.  Continue walking up the small mountain path, following the signs and maybe stopping to rest on the way up, it is a bit of a hike.

When you get to the top, prepare to get in line and wait for a few minutes.  The loading of this ride takes a little longer then some of the others in the park but it is worth the wait.  They will line you up and determine by the weight of the group of people who goes in what line and on which sled.  After you have been divided up, they help you get onto the sleds and then you begin your descent.  The speed you pick up on this ride is amazing.  After the long walk up the mountain, you will be surprised at how quickly you wind your way back down.  Twisting and turning, gravity causing you to pick up speed as you fly down the waterslide.  As you go you will feel like you are going to fly off the slide, but trust me, that is why they weighed you, to make sure that you r group was the perfect size to give you speed and safety on your way down.

This is one of those hidden treasures in Dollywood.  People walk right past this ride all the time without realizing it is there.  Take the time to make the climb.  Enjoy the sense of exhilaration on your way back down. Take your friends up and down the Mountain Slidewinder as any times as you can.

Dollywood’s River Rush Almost Complete!

River Rush, the new $6 million water coaster slated to open in May at Dollywood’s Splash Country, is nearing the completion stages despite quite a burst of winter weather the past few months.

Officials said recently that it’s 95 percent complete and a Mother’s Day weekend grand opening is right on target. RiverRush will be the state’s first water coaster and will be visible from Veterans Boulevard at the western end of the park

If you’re familiar with Dollywood, and especially Dollywood’s Splash Country, River Rush will lay on over an acre of land in a newly-developed area between Splash Country’s Big Bear Plunge and Bear Mountain Fire Tower.

When it opens, RiverRush will transport riders up a conveyor belt before being propelled up hills and around curves. In all, it’s a four-story ride where riders climb 237 feet before making a 25-foot, 45-degree drop through tunnels, rapids and three more drops. It’s one minute and 20 seconds of thrilling splashes and drops.

Construction on River Rush officially started in August and was initially estimated to run to $5 million before a few unforeseen rocks got in the way causing project costs to increase.

In other park news, details of Dollywood’s 2014 expansion are expected to be announced this summer. It will be located on the site of Adventure Mountain, which closed at the end of last season. The project has been billed as as “a significant family attraction” in scope between the park’s $17.5 million Mystery Mine steel coaster and $20 million Wild Eagle, the first wing coaster in the U.S.

With Splash Country’s new water attraction and Dollywood’s Wild Eagle addition last year, Splash Country hopes to increase its attendance by about 10 percent to more than 400,000 visitors, according to park officials.

The water park will open a couple of weeks early this year to have Dolly Parton, who will be in town to kick off Pigeon Forge Springfest, present at its launch.

Dollywood opens to the public on March 22. Splash Country opens May 11, with a special opening on May 10 for season pass holders.

Dollywood Express

Hop Aboard the Dollywood Express!

With the popularity of Thomas the Tank engine, it is no wonder that kids from across the country are thrilled when they find out that there is an actual steam locomotive at Dollywood.  And what’s more… you can ride it up around the park for one of the best rides in the park and one of the best ways to take in the park as a whole.  And it Christmas they take this ride to a whole new level by adding lights and the sounds of the Holiday Season to the ride.

The Dollywood Express, the engine and the track came from theme park owner Grover Robbins.  Robbins had built a theme park n Blowing Rock, NC called Tweetsie Railroad.  After acquiring a new engine for his theme park in Blowing Rock, he placed a second one in Pigeon Forge at a new park called Rebel Railroad.  This train, and Rebel Railroad opened in 1961.  That train that started on the tracks in the 60s is still in operation today.  It is a USATC S118 Class 2-8-2 and came from the White Pass.  Engine #192 from this deal – otherwise known as Klondike Katie – is still in operation today at Dollywood.  Along with this engine, they also have engine #70, known as Cinderella that runs on the Dollywood Express track throughout the year.

The train ride is hugely popular.  There is just something to be said for sitting in the passenger cars being pulled behind a steam locomotive that makes the ride up the mountain even more enjoyable.  People line up more than a half hour before the ride leaves the station to make sure that they get a good seat on the train.  After you board, the station master will give you some brief instructions and then you will start your trip up the mountain.  You ride through the theme park itself for most of the ride.  Yo get to wave at the crowds as you journey up into the mountains.  On your trip you will get to see the backside of Dollywood, dioramas of mountain life including a replica farm and of course, you get one of the best views of Dollywood ever – from the moving grandeur of a more then 75 year old steam train.

Make the Dollywood Express part of your Dollywood experience.  Make sure that you get there early.  Make sure you get a good seat.  Buy some refreshments for the journey.  Watch in delight, the children sitting around you.  Marvel at the way their eyes grow as they listen to the steam whistle out of the train and the music that the train makes on the tracks as it journeys through the mountains.

The Patty Waszak Show

One of the funniest women in the South just so happens to headline her own show at the Smith Family Theater in Pigeon Forge, TN. Patty Waszak’s show is the longest running morning variety show in the Smokies and has been performed in front of millions of people throughout the Southeast.

Known for her high energy, Patty Waszak’s heart warming variety show features some of the most popular big band favorites, polkas, 50s and 60s rock, country, 70s disco, Broadway hits, 80s and 90s pop, and all the current hits. Hum and sing along to the songs you grew up with and hear on the radio today. Patty is also bog on audience participation and music trivia, so be ready when you come to a show you just might get picked out of the audience. And of course what would a show be without a number of Patty’s original songs.

She’s a musical wonder. As a part of the show, Patty shows her ability to play thirty instruments.

Not only is she a musician, she can sing, tell a ton of funny jokes, sprinkle in some comedy, and can dance when she has to. It literally feels like every show is brand new. Patty’s enthusiasm is contagious and gets everyone going from the moment she hits the stage. Her sincere love for those who come to her show is evident in every performance. Just like she says, she’ll “re-charge your battery” through each performance. And it’s a great show to bring the kids to. It’s put together with families in mind with an emphasis on healthy values and produced to the highest artistic standards.

As mentioned, Patty Waszak has performed all across the country at festivals, fund raisers, cruises, reunions, state and county fairs, luncheons/dinners, conventions, travel shows, theatres and dinner theatre events. Patty also performs a modified version of her show at nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

The show is 90 minutes long when there is no intermission or 2 hours long when there is an intermission.

The Patty Waszak Show
129 Showplace Blvd.
Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
(865) 774-9454