Nothing can truly prepare you for Pigeon Forge. This long strip of highway between Gatlinburg and Sevierville on the road to the Smokies takes tacky to the tenth degree. You can see the evolution of low-brow consumerism here, where roadside pit stops selling concrete lawn ornaments seem quaint next to the fruits of modern-day developers’ machinations.
Consider this: In 2008 Pigeon Forge welcomed its newest monstrosity—Belle Island, a massive $110 million Disney World–esque development with 95 retail shops, 126 hotel rooms, and four major restaurants. Located on an actual island, the development boasts the Debbie Reynolds Hollywood Motion Picture Museum, Darrell Waltrip’s Racing Experience (named for a famed NASCAR driver and sports commentator), and 3,000 parking spaces.
The bottom line is that bigger is always better in Pigeon Forge, no matter how ugly it is. And what is truly remarkable about Pigeon Forge is that the people love it.
Before you discard Pigeon Forge, consider what it has going for it. The Dollywood theme park is truly something, with its fun rides, mountain craft demonstrations, and musical performances. During the hot summer months, who can resist Dollywood’s Splash Country, the crème-de-la-crème of water parks?
If shopping is on your list, then try on Pigeon Forge’s myriad outlet malls. If you truly let go, then dive right in to all the rest: comedy barns, Elvis museums, indoor skydiving, bungee jumping, car museums, mini-golf, and country music dinner theater. Pigeon Forge is your oyster.
© Susanna Henighan Potter from Moon Tennessee, 5th Edition