It’s a classic scene.
Tourists load into a bus saying hello to the driver who is seated on the right side of the bus, steering wheel in hand.
The tourists then climb to the second level to get a better view of the historic sights all around them and settle in for a pleasant tour of jolly old … Gatlinburg.
That’s right. It’s time for a spot of tea, y’all as the traditional United Kingdom double decker bus has made its way across the Atlantic and settled in to Sevier County, giving visitors a safe and unique way to view this tourist mecca.
Double Decker Bus Tours brings an alternative to the traditional Sevier County trolley system.
The website’s exclamation point heavy background explains this is not simply a transit system. Each bus comes complete with a real, live tour guide able to tell you things to do, where to eat, what attraction to see and much more. That’s right; it will be just like Siri given a corporeal form.
The buses are authentic double deckers, brought over from the UK and repainted with advertisement for pancakes and such. It’s a hop on, hop off kind of affair, so if you take a break and visit one of the 14 locations spread over Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg and then, quick as bob’s your uncle, hop on the next one … because the one you were on will be gone.
A major selling point is that with chockablock Sevier County traffic, it’s hard for everyone – especially the driver – to take everything in. With the bus tour, everyone can sit back, look around, take pictures and enjoy the view.
But wait, that’s not all.
“Here’s the cool part,” the site exclaims before going to prove that Double Decker Bus Tours and I have wildly variant definitions of “cool.” “Because of the European authenticity, your driver will actually be sitting on the RIGHT!”
In the spring, the company also has plans to expand with specialty tours to places such as Cades Cove, Biltmore and Harrah’s Casino in Cherokee, North Carolina. However, most of those tours will be done by shuttle van in lieu of the double decker bus. The new tours are currently scheduled to launch in mid-March.
One of the best ideas, in my opinion, is the proposed moonshine and wine route, taking you to the various distilleries and tastings that have popped up all over Sevier County. In fact, I feel like the staff of TheSmokies.com needs to schedule a booze cruise ASAP as a matter of professional due diligence.
At the least, getting properly pissed (that’s English for drunk) and riding around Sevier County with no worries about the Bobbies chasing you with nightsticks and blowing those whistles sounds like a good time.
There are currently two buses, but plans are afoot to add three more to the loop in the spring of 2020 with “many more” stops. You can park at any of the ride stops and buy your ticket on the bus, or you can purchase tickets in advance. There’s an app you can download to keep up with bus locations so, if you hop off, you won’t miss the next bus and be bollocked by your mates.
Children 4 and under are free. Rates start at $5 for a single one-way ticket. For the 24-hour bus pass – which allows unlimited stops for 24 hours – the cost is $14.99 for adults 16 and older and $9.99 for kids ages 5 to 15.Current bus hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Buses run Fridays and Saturdays through mid-march, when it will begin service every day of the week. For more information and to book tickets, visit their website here.
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