Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Pigeon Forge

We used to live in Tennessee many years ago.  For part of our vacation, we rented a cabin in Pigeon Forge with my husband's family.  That included his parents and both his sisters and their families. 14 people in all.  The cabin was beautiful and cozy.  It was great to have all of us together on this mini vacation to Pigeon Forge. The cabin we rented was really close to Dollywood.  It was called Tennessee Memories from Timbertops Rentals.  It had 4 bedrooms with king size beds.  The master room had a big Jacuzzi tub and our room had a small bathroom with shower.  The cabin also included a pool table, theater seating, and a hot tub on the deck. Click on the link to see pictures of it.

Pigeon Forge has so many sights to see.  Driving down the parkway, you'll see so many things to do that you'll really need several days to do it all.  Gatlinburg is a bit passed Pigeon Forge and it too is beautiful although we didn't go there on this trip.  I believe it is probably similar to Leavenworth in Washington, like a german type of town, with lots of shopping and things to do.  Our goal this trip was to go to the Dixie Stampede and Dollywood.  Last time we were here, our son was too short to drive a go-kart on one of the many tracks we saw, but this time he's tall enough and we wanted to let him do that too.

We were almost late for the Dixie Stampede.  Our reservations were for 6:00pm, but you can check in at 5:00 for the pre-show.  We were running late as we had arrived at the cabin about 4:30pm and were locked out.  They have a keycode to enter the cabin instead of a key and the code was not working. We were waiting for the maintenance guy, who seemed to take forever, in the staggering heat.  Apparently the code had been entered too many times and it needed to be reset.  I think the lock either malfunctioned or someone tried entering it too many times before we got there.  By the time we got to Dixie Stampede, it was almost 5:30.  Once you enter, they lead your group to their photo booth to take your photos and sell them to you for $25.

We go up to this room with long tables and seats to watch a group of 3 men sing songs, while we wait to go into the actual arena for the main event.  It was funny listening to these guys countrify a Justin Bieber song as well as others like YMCA. At 6:00, we are all led into the arena to our assigned seating area.  Pop, coffee, and tea are served.  The menu consisted of a small cornish game hen, slice of pork tenderloin, herbed potato, corn on the cob, creamy vegetable soup, and an apple turnover.  The creamy vegetable soup was absolutely delicious, same with the apple turnover.  Those were my favorites.  The cornish game hen was seasoned with their special seasoning, which was flavorful and corn on the cob is always good. I didn't much care for the pork and the herbed potato was super salty and herby.  You do not get any flatware, your fingers are your utensils.  Makes it more fun and messy.  Each server has a long table with 15-20 people.  I tell you, these people work hard.  They have to rush to the kitchen and come out with huge trays of food and go up and down the stairs of the arena to their section to serve each food one at a time. Basically we got the soup first, then a few minutes later the chicken, then a few minutes later the pork, and so forth.  The show itself was pretty good.  It's based on the civil war times so you have the north side of the arena against the south side.  We saw amazing horse stunts and races with various animals.  There was also comedic entertainment for the laugh factor.  It was a lot of fun and I recommend visiting this attraction.  My in-laws have been there several times and they saw some new things during the show.  So they must have some variety shows to keep it fresh for repeat customers.  My in-laws say the Christmas show is beautiful.  They do offer a veteran's discount which we were able to take advantage of, but our cabin agency also gave us a $5 off coupon.  There is a big gift shop to go through as you exit and on the side of the building you can see some of the horses.  There is a rope to block you from getting close, but one of the horses was loving all the attention.  Unfortunately cameras were not allowed in the arena, so no photos.

The next day we all went to Dollywood, except for my husband.  He refused to go and opted to play golf instead.  We all did our share of begging him to go, but he wouldn't cave in.  My kids and I were the only ones who would ride the big rides so we tried to ride the ones the whole family would ride together first which was the raging river one.  That was the only ride with the longest line and it was sooo hot that it felt good to get soaked.  There were about 4 water rides in all and those kept us cool through out the day.  There is also Splash Country, which is a separate waterpark, but we didn't do that.  I'm glad my kids like thrill rides, otherwise I would have been roaming the park by myself.  We eventually split up with the family and were able to get in all the roller coasters before the park closed.  Our favorite was the Mystery Mines although it was so rough it boxed my ears in the beginning, but it was scary fun and the second longest line in the park.  The other lines were not too long so we were able to get through some rides quickly.  Some of the rides were pretty rough, I was glad we all left with our teeth intact. They have Skyzip, which is a zip line, but it is an additional $49 and can take 60-90 minutes.  I've been wanting to do a zip line for a long time, but I didn't get to on this trip.  Dollywood is a pretty big park.  There seemed to be more shops in the park than rides, but we were more intent in getting all the rides in that I didn't go into any of the stores.  As you exit, you are forced to go through their huge gift shop.  I was able to get a Christmas ornament there, but I didn't get one from Dixie Stampede.  It was a fun day and I really enjoyed the special time spent with my kids. 

We only stayed 2 nights in the cabin and we really enjoyed ourselves.  My sister-in-law wanted a shout out. Hey "P"!! The day we left we stopped at a go-kart track with the kids and their cousins.  There were several places to choose from.  A couple places had fast carts that go 40mph, but this being our son's first time to drive, we opted for a slower track.  Adventure Raceway has carts that go 14-20mph depending on what part of the track you are on.  The kids loved it and it was $5 a ride.  I really don't remember how many times they were able to go around the track.

If you are planning to visit Tennessee, I highly recommend visiting Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.  There are so many family friendly attractions to go to, you'll definitely have a great time.

Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede Dinner & Show on Urbanspoon

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