New, expanded Sevierville and Pigeon Forge attractions coming for summer
Several new or expanded attractions in Sevierville and Pigeon Forge are ready for the spring and summer tourist season: new names, new features, new things to do and new places to stay.
Tourism is the lifeblood of Sevier County and its cities, with 91 percent of Sevierville’s sales-tax revenue coming from visitors, according to Amanda Maples Marr, marketing director for the Sevierville Convention & Visitors Bureau.
That makes it vital for the area to keep its visitors happy, said Leon Downey, executive director of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism. At least 80 percent of Pigeon Forge visitors are repeat guests, he said.
“People know that when they come here they’re always going to find something new,” Downey said.
From Pittsburgh to the Smokies
He hopes word of the new features will entice more visitors to the Smokies. Pigeon Forge is running spring and summer commercials in 11 of its regular markets, but Allegiant Air’s announcement that it will start offering direct flights May 17 from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Knoxville has opened new vistas, Downey said.
“Basically they’re a vacation airline,” he said. So Sevier County and its cities, Visit Knoxville and Blount County’s tourism officials are teaming up to sell Pittsburgh residents on the area, Downey said. Three years ago, when Frontier Airlines similarly announced direct flights from Chicago, tourism agencies here saw a big uptick in business; so they’re hoping for the same from Pittsburgh, he said.
While specific attractions have long been the draw for most tourists, Sevierville is putting some effort into making the city itself an attractive stop, Marr said.
“We’ve got a real focus on revitalizing our downtown area,” she said. The city is starting a streetscape program in May which will “completely put a new face on downtown Sevierville,” Marr said.
In and around Sevierville’s downtown visitors will find a selection of new local restaurants:
*Graze burgers, 125 Bruce St., owned by area restaurateurs the Angelos brothers;
*Crust & Crumb Bakery, 118 Bruce St., offering sandwiches, coffee and pastries;
*Wildflower Bakehouse, 240 Forks of the River Parkway, with breakfast, lunch and baked goods; and
*Barley Station BBQ, 140 S. Kilby St., showcasing local farm-to-table meat and vegetables.
“These have all opened in the last few months,” Marr said.
The long-established Tanger Outlets is adding high-end stores; recent openings include Pink and Tory Burch.
Across the Parkway, a farmers’ market-themed retail center will soon open on the site of the former Damon’s Grill.
And East Tennessee’s first Dave & Buster's will open April 29 behind Olive Garden, just off the Parkway on New Era Road.
The Ridge Outdoor Resort, at 1250 Middle Creek Road, is expected to open around the end of May. It will offer glamping tents and tiny cabins, plus RV sites, on 50 acres.
Sevierville is getting more high-end camping sites, Marr said – not just The Ridge, but a similar campground is in the permit process.
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The Resort at Governor’s Crossing, at 225 Collier Drive, has added 67 condominiums to its previous 165 units. The new condos opened March 21, Marr said. Also part of the $12 million expansion was the addition of Firefly Cove, a 5-acre “family park-like setting” with a playground, picnic area and walking trails; and Adventure Springs, an aquatic play area which includes a 300-gallon “dump bucket” and two water slides. Adventure Springs will open this spring.
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Another $75 million in tourism-related developments are planned or underway in Sevierville, Marr said.
“All of those projects are going to be completed by June 2020,” she said.
Pigeon Forge plethora
Dollywood has been Pigeon Forge’s biggest attraction for years, and May 10 it will open a new area: Wildwood Grove, with six new rides, the Till & Harvest restaurant, several indoor and outdoor play areas, and a 55-foot-tall Wildwood Tree. The new features offer lots for families with children, but also plenty for adults and couples, said Pete Owens, Dollywood vice president of marketing and public relations.
“This is the largest expansion at the Dollywood theme park in history,” he said. “The landscape budget on this project was more than $1 million alone.”
Dolly Parton herself will be there for the grand opening of the $37 million project, though people who bought season passes early this year will get a sneak peek, Owens said.
The Wildwood Tree will dominate the area; it will be covered in more than 650 illuminated butterflies – each about 2 ½ feet across – and starting in June it will tell a rotating series of stories about its origin, animals in the Smokies, and the seasons, Owens said.
“I think you’ll recognize the storytelling voice,” he said.
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Dolly Parton's new dinner theater
Later this spring Parton is opening a new dinner theater at 2713 Parkway – Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show, featuring the crews of two pirate ships battling in a 300,000-gallon arena.
Similar to Parton’s Myrtle Beach, S.C., show, it’s already taking reservations for a soft opening around Memorial Day, Owens said. Parton will also attend the grand opening in the first week of June, he said.
At the adjacent The Island entertainment complex, Yee-Haw Brewing Company has opened, along with the Spinning Parrots family coaster, customized remote-control car attraction RideMakerz, and Savannah Bee Company retail outlet.
Equip and trip
Uncle Lem’s Outfitters, which has two Knoxville stores, is opening a 4,580-square-foot Pigeon Forge location at 2450 Parkway which will offer guided hiking, fishing, and cycling outdoor adventure trips, Downey said. Paddleboard, kayak and bicycle rentals will be offered too.
“That’s something new that we haven’t had a whole lot of here before,” Downey said.
Food for every mood
Next door at 2480 Parkway, Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant, which has five other Tennessee locations, will open a sixth in the former Denny’s restaurant, Downey said.
Other new restaurants include a Brazilian steakhouse, Gaucho Urbano at 111 Valley Drive; and Gulf Coast brunch place Brick & Spoon at 136 Community Center Drive, offering southern-style seafood, Downey said.
German restaurant Wild Bear Tavern has gone in at 4236 Parkway, next to the Wild Bear Inn; while Teaffle offers bubble tea and waffles at 2656 Parkway.
Axe throwing, log rolling
Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud Show is open at 2528 Parkway, offering 11 competitive lumberjack events including axe throwing, chopping, sawing, speed climbing and log rolling.
Also there is the Lumberjack Feud Adventure, where visitors can try a ropes course, zipline, roller coaster, 80-foot jump tower, multi-level lumberjack adventure park and aerial kids’ playground. Nearby are three restaurants: Smoky Mountain Brewery, Five Guys, and Calhoun’s.
Old and new
Starting July 1, seven life jackets from the Titanic will be on display at the Titanic Museum Attraction, 2134 Parkway. Only a dozen survive from the ocean liner, which sank on its maiden voyage in 1912. The show will run until November.
Across the Parkway from the Titanic Museum, the National Enquirer Attraction will open May 24. The 20,000-square-foot display will cover the tabloid’s 90-year history in more than 100 interactive exhibits.
Rocky Top Mountain Coaster ride
The new Rocky Top Mountain Coaster, at 2940 Veterans Blvd., takes visitors on a 9-minute thrill ride, moving up to 30 mph through multiple turns and four tunnels. Riders as young as three years can be accommodated, provided they are tall enough.
Mountain Mile development
At least some of the Mountain Mile development at 2655 Teaster Lane is expected to open this year. First will come the Tower Shops at Mountain Mile, a 180,000-square-foot retail and entertainment complex with a bowling alley, sports bar, and several restaurants, according to developer Dixon Greenwood. That will form a horseshoe-shaped plaza around the Mountain Monster, a 200-foot-tall “thrill ride.”
Mountain Mile project coming to Pigeon Forge.
“We’re shooting to have the tower up in the summer,” Greenwood said.
Some tenants are lined up for the smaller shops, and bigger ones should be announced soon, he said.
A good portion of the complex should be open soon, and all announced features should be operational by next year, Greenwood said.
Source: Knoxville News Sentinel, By Jim Gaines
The East Tennessee Economic Development Agency markets and recruits business for the 15 counties in the greater Knoxville-Oak Ridge region of East Tennessee. Visit www.eteda.org
Published April 9, 2019