Attractions

Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride Pigeon Forge: Tourist trap or beloved icon?

You’ve seen it a million times while driving down the Parkway. 

It’s too large and too cheesy lookin’ to miss.

Perhaps you’ve taken the bait. Or maybe you’re too high-brow to even consider it. 

Regardless, we all know it. It’s practically a landmark of the Parkway in Pigeon Forge. 

That’s right, we’re talking about the Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride.

And today, we wish to start an Internet debate about this piece of Parkway history. Is the Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride an area icon? Or is it nothing more than a tourist trap?

Read Also: Unpopular Opinion: A review of Paula Deen’s Restaurant in Pigeon Forge: ‘Just OK’

Jurassic Boat Ride
The animated display outside is one of the more impressive scenes (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

What is the Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride?

First things first. For the uninitiated or perhaps just oblivious, let’s quickly explain what this attraction is.

Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride is a standalone ridable indoor attraction located in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. 

It features a “boat ride” through a dark warehouse jungle filled with pre-historic animatronics dinosaurs.

The boat, while surrounded by shallow water, does not actually float as one might suspect and is instead led by track. 

It’s similar, in a way, to Dollywood’s Blazing Fury. Complete with animatronics that, after years of use, are showing their age.

Read Also: Blazing Fury history: The untold story behind Dollywood’s beloved ride

A broken mannequin
Need a hand? (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

What it’s like to experience Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride

From the moment you queue up for this attraction, it’s hard not to know exactly what you’re in for.

We only saw a single employee on-site during the course of our visit. He both worked the ticket booth and waved guests on and off the ride.

There’s an assortment of mismatched mannequins out front who are missing miscellaneous appendages.

At first, I wondered if it was on purpose for effect.

But after laughing and taking a suspicious amount of photographs of one of the detached limbs, the lone employee came over to remove the limb and tuck the now-armless sleeve into the mannequin’s pocket to be a bit less obvious.

Spoilsport.

The queue was fairly short and the wait time was minimal. We were able to board in just under 10 minutes. 

An animatronic dinosaur
You spend the better part of your time on this ride in almost complete darkness (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

Then it came time for the actual ride

The best way to describe the Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride is to imagine what Disney World’s “It’s a Small World” would have been like with far less funding, more dinos and without the annoying music. It’s also three times darker.

The “boat” is mildly jerky but in a forgivable way. I would say no more jerky than the Blazing Fury but much slower.

And I can’t mention this enough … this ride is DARK.

As in, perhaps the darkest ride I’ve ever been on.

In fact, you spend the vast majority of your time on the ride barely being able to see a thing. 

Every few seconds a spotlight shines on a featured animatronic dinosaur who performs its obligatory shaky movement. You hear some sound effects until the scene goes dark again and you move on.

Jurassic Boat Ride Prop
Some props are better than others (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

Do you get wet on Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride? How long is the ride?

No, you will not get wet on Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride. Not even a light sprinkle.

In fact, we had kind of hoped there would be a light sprinkle or mist, because the ride was a bit humid for our tastes.

The total ride time is exactly 10 minutes long.

How much does it cost? Are there coupons available?

General admission for Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride in Pigeon Forge runs at $18.99 per adult, $13.99 for children ages 5-11 and $6.99 for children ages 3-4.

Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride accepts Discover, Mastercard and Visa. They do not accept American Express. You must buy your tickets on-site. There is no online option.

There is, however, a coupon available. All you have to do is mention that you saw this coupon on their website and you’ll receive $1 off general admission.

Is Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride a tourist trap or a beloved icon?

Now that you’re up to speed it’s time for the great debate.

Is Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride simply a tourist trap or a beloved Smoky Mountain icon?

I think the answer depends on your personality. And I could see it going both ways.

Another animatronic dinosaur
An animatronic dinosaur (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

Pro tourist trap arguments

Those who would put this attraction in the category of tourist trap would argue that it’s overpriced, outdated and poorly maintained.

After all, you’re paying $18.99 per adult for 10 minutes of “entertainment”. Compare that to other popular area attractions for a moment that offer a day-long experience. 

Soaky Mountain, for instance, runs right at $44.99 for general admission for an entire day’s worth of entertainment.

Read More: How to get free, discounted admission to Soaky Mountain Waterpark

Tourist trap opponents might also argue that it’s outdated. As one hilarious Google reviewer put it:

“This ride transports you back in time … to the 1960s to be specific.”

It may be worth noting, that at the time of this writing, Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride is rocking a 2.9 star review on Google.

And finally, and I believe this to be the strongest pro tourist trap argument, their phone doesn’t seem to actually work.

To be clear, it rings. It just doesn’t ring at the actual attraction. And no one ever answers the call.

We tried calling the attraction using the phone number listed on their website multiple times beforehand to no avail. 

Upon arrival, I happened to notice a landline phone sitting next to the ticket agent.

Curious, I decided to call the number one more time while standing beside their ticket booth. Spoiler alert, the phone never rang. 

I don’t think I’m alone in that experience either, as several Google reviews have mentioned the same complaint.

Mismatched mannequins
A mismatched assortment of mannequins can be found just outside the ride (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

Pro beloved icon arguments

But then again I could also argue that Jurassic Jungle Ride is the stuff that pop culture icons are made of.

It’s the Sharknado of rides.

Who are we as a culture to lift up Dollywood’s Blazing Fury, which is from a similar era with similarly dated animatronics, as a beloved piece of Dollywood history only to turn around and make fun of Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride?

Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride has been around for years. It’s part of Parkway history.

We happily quote Blazing Fury’s cheesy lines and scream FIRE IN THE HOLE upon take off. 

And if we are being really honest, Blazing Fury’s mannequins and props are just as cheesy, mismatched and (at times) just as creepy as Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride’s mannequins. 

We say the Blazing Fury is “nostalgic” and has “personality” while Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride is criticized as being “outdated” and “worn down”.

And while half of their Google reviews are less than kind, half of them have words of praise for the attraction.

They say it’s great for little kids who don’t mind the dark and love dinosaurs.

And most of all, I would argue that you know exactly what you’re in for the second you pull into the parking lot at Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride. 

It’s not an attraction that’s pretending to be something it’s not. 

If you can’t tell that things will be a bit outdated, or that the ride will be jerky and slow before you hand over your credit card at the ticket booth, I’m sorry to say you likely aren’t paying attention.

A tourist trap, to me, is something that pretends to be something it’s not to take your money. 

Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride is loud and proud about what it is, without pretense.

Jurassic Boat Ride Storefront
The Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride is hard to miss for a passersby on the Parkway (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

What do YOU think?

In summary, pro tourist trap arguments include:

  • Overpriced
  • Outdated
  • The phone number is just for giggles

Pro beloved icon arguments include:

  • Nostalgic
  • No pretense
  • Fire in the Hole!

Since we here at TheSmokies.com are on the fence, we’d really like to hear from YOU, fellow Smokies lovers. What do YOU think about Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride in Pigeon Forge? Let us know in the comments below.

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What not to do at Dollywood; 8 tips from a local

I love going to Dollywood. As a kid, I was lucky enough to grow up within an hour driving distance of the theme park, and my parents would often buy season passes for the family.

Because of this, the Pigeon Forge theme park has a very special place in my heart. But as an adult, I realize that Dollywood still holds its own even when compared to some of the other highly regarded American theme parks.

I feel a sense of true glee when I find out a friend has never been, and I want to swiftly whisk them away to the happiest place on earth.

I often have a list of recommendations. Those are a dime a dozen, though.

If you want some real Dollywood tips, here’s the most important items: What not to do at the Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.:

Ride cubbies at Blazing Fury hold loose items for guests while they ride (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)
Ride cubbies at Blazing Fury hold loose items for guests while they ride (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

8. Don’t spend a bunch of money on lockers

Dollywood is a park that really pays attention to the little details and values guest experience.

So on a vast majority of the rides in the theme park, you’ll find little cubby areas where you can stash your stuff while you ride.

Sure, there are lockers, too. But I can honestly say I’ve never used one.

While Dollywood (or this website, for that matter) is not liable for property left in the cubby, I’ve never had an issue with lost items (knock on wood).

But here’s a bonus tip: If you decide to go the cubby route, bring a waterproof pouch for your cell phone and keys because on some rides, like River Rampage, you may have to take your stuff with you. And you will get wet.

7. Don’t show up without a reservation

This tip mostly applies to the 2020-2021 season, as the capacity at Dollywood is limited.

Dollywood hasn’t announced just how limited it is, and while they did stop requiring reservations toward the end of last season, it’s a good idea to play it safe and book your tickets ahead of time.

You can make a reservation by purchasing a dated ticket.

Tripster is one way to book that may sometimes save you a couple bucks on the price of admission.

Bonus tip: If you forget to make a reservation and capacity is limited, try again around 5 pm. Dollywood lets more guests in as other guests leave.

6. Don’t carry souvenirs around the park all day

If your kids want to play some games in Country Fair or someone in your party wants to do some shopping around the park, try to steer them in that direction toward the end of the day.

Theme parks aren’t fun if you feel like a pack mule.

Read Also: Dollywood souvenir mugs: What to know before you buy

The TimeSaver pass starts at $44 for 10, or $54 for unlimited (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)
The TimeSaver pass starts at $44 (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

5. Don’t buy a TimeSaver pass (right away)

I can’t speak for everyone. There are different types of vacationers.

If you have the budget and are absolutely set on seeing everything in the park in one day, then a TimeSaver pass might be right for you.

What is a TimeSaver pass, you ask?

You may be familiar with the concept, but each theme park is a little different. And even Dollywood’s terms and conditions may vary from year to year.

For example, new in 2021, Dollywood is removing limitations on how many times you can use TimeSaver pass for its most popular rides.

Generally, the TimeSaver pass ($44 plus tax) gets you expedited entrances eight times throughout the day on your choice of rides.

The TimeSaver Unlimited pass ($59 plus tax) gets you unlimited access to expedited entry at all participating rides and attractions.

But is a TimeSaver pass worth it?

And the answer is, it depends. But Dollywood makes it easy to view wait times for its rides, and I’ve rarely seen any wait time go much above one hour.

And heck, it’s not uncommon, in my experience, to ride a ride over and over again because there was virtually no wait.

There are many days that I’ve been to the park that a TimeSaver pass would be unnecessary, in my opinion. You may want to consider scoping it out before shelling out the cash.

However, the TimeSaver passes are sold in limited quantities, so it’s possible they can sell out.

It’s a risk you take.

Wild Eagle at Dollywood
Dollywood has some of the best coasters in the nation, including the Wild Eagle, my personal favorite (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

4. Don’t try to experience the park in one day on your first visit

Dollywood has a lot to offer. I would argue that some of its coasters rival some of the best in the world.

Genuinely, the Wild Eagle is probably my favorite of all time, and I’ve been to the major places – Universal, Six Flags, Disney, the works.

But Dollywood is more than just rides and coasters. They also offer shows (some of which feature Dolly Parton’s family members), exceptionally good theme park food and immersive experiences that are worth checking out.

If you try to do the theme park in one single day, you might be missing out. But then again, this could depend on what type of vacationer you are.

Read Also: Can you do Dollywood in one day? This guide will help you decide

3. Don’t forget to download the Dollywood app

The Dollywood app helps you find rides, shops and restaurants based on your location.

It even has a “Friend Finder” feature in case anyone in your group splits off during the day.

It’s one of the most helpful theme park apps I’ve ever downloaded, so don’t skip out just to save some space on your phone.

2. Don’t miss out on the complimentary water

Tennessee is humid, y’all.

But luckily, the folks at Dollywood don’t want you to get dehydrated, so just about any kiosk that is able, will give you a free iced tap water on request.

Here’s a pro-tip: Carry around a refillable screw-top bottle in which to dump the complimentary water into.

Dollywood crew won’t be able to handle your water bottle directly as they would be seen as less than sanitary, but I often request a couple of water cups at a time just to pour them into the more bag-friendly, screw-top bottle for easier transport.

1. Don’t make fun of the Blazing Fury

Blazing Fury is an iconic ride that should basically be required (for able-bodied people) upon admission to the park.

Yes, it’s a bit older. Yes, your kids might ask “Is that it?” or complain that they “don’t get it”.

But as one of the park’s first rides, it holds a special place in the hearts of frequent park-goers for its easter eggs, hand-painted decorations and lines that we all love to quote.

The world may be a crazy place, but us Dollywood fans know some truths are constant: Molly’s about to jump, Luther has a weak back and the stables are on fire.

Read Also: Dollywood rides ranked: 10 best coasters and rides in the park

So please don’t say mean things about Blazing Fury. Them’s fightin’ words.

Do you agree with our list? Let us know in the comments.