Local lists best dinner shows in the Smoky Mountains
Sure, Vegas has Usher and Sting, and Broadway has some musicals based on Disney properties. But none of them have what we have in Pigeon Forge: Dinner shows with comedic musicals based on real-life events, feats of aerobatics, equine-based stunts and more – all delivered with a delicious multi-course meal.
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My friends, with the possible exception of the attractions in Branson, Orlando and other tourism meccas, Pigeon Forge is the go-to spot for dinner theatre. Pigeon Forge’s dinner theatre culture is well-established and beloved. Over the years, different experiments in dinner theatre have come and gone. Now, the proprietors of these shows seemed to have figured out the formula, and menu, for success. In some cases, that formula is to see what Dolly Parton is doing and copy it.
1. Biblical Times Dinner Theater
To be honest, there’s something about the idea of the Biblical Times Dinner Theatre that I can’t quite get my head around. I have, throughout my life, enjoyed several good passion plays. I grew up around gospel music. Ultimately, I think my aversion to the show is eating a meal while watching it. I was raised in a fairly straight-laced, and I simply can’t allow myself to enjoy eating during worship – outside of communion, of course.
If Biblical Times were to put on the show, and then invite everyone into the fellowship hall in the basement where a series of very nice ladies serve us all a wide variety of spaghetti and soggy garlic bread, I would be able to embrace this show better. Still, this theater offers a “feast of Biblical proportion”. The menu features an appetizer, yeast roll, ham, turkey, an array of sides and a dessert. Visit the website for current shows.
2. Great Smoky Mountain Murder Mystery Dinner Show
Just when everyone thought they had all the answers, the owners of this show changed the questions. Offering a rotating menu of different mysteries through the week, the dinner show is located on Teaster Lane in Pigeon Forge and presents a hearty meal with a side order of … crime. The menu features country-fried chicken and savory pulled pork and a choice of soups. Additionally, you can choose your favorite cheesecake for dessert. Check Tripster for ticket discounts.
3. The Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud
The Hatfield and McCoy dinner show ruffled my feathers for its first couple of years of existence. It’s not like the Hatfields and McCoys were particularly close to the region, and the idea of taking a blood feud and turning it into a Hee Haw-esque musical comedy bothered me. Devil Anse Hatfield was a hard man, colorless, ruthless man who sacrificed many lives on the altar of his pride. But, over the years, I’ve realized that turning him into a sideshow character may be somehow, oddly appropriate. The show itself is funny and features singing, dancing and dog jumping contests. The chicken dinner comes with pulled pork and mashed potatoes as well as corn and other fixings. Check Tripster for ticket prices.
4. Dolly Parton’s Stampede
Dolly Parton’s Stampede is the original and, I believe, the most popular show in town. The Stampede – formally the Dixie Stampede – has removed much of the more problematic Civil War-related theming, but still pits a friendly North against South competition featuring horse-riding stunts, the comedy stylings of Skeeter and more. Keep in mind, live animals and pyrotechnics are present during the meal. The four-course feast features a whole rotisserie chicken and smoked barbeque pork loin as well as corn on the cob, a potato, dessert and more. Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free or dairy-free is available upon request. Check Tripster for pricing.
5. Pirates Voyage and Dinner Show
Dolly’s Stampede is pretty much the gold standard of the industry, but the Pirates are owned and operated by the same people. This show enjoys the benefit of newer facilities built with knowledge gained in the operation of the Stampede. The event features mermaids, treasure and a lot of fun theming. Also, for me, pirates are just cooler. The pirate crews swing, dance and sing. There’s also diving acrobatics into a giant pool and pirate ships. What’s not to love? In my opinion, it’s one of the best dinner shows in the whole area. The four-course Pirates Voyage dinner feast comes with the more pirate-friendly cracklin’ pan-fried chicken and sugar-cured ham but operates the same as the Stampede. Tickets are the same price as the Stampede.
6. Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud Supper Show
Honestly, the Lumberjack Feud is just cool. First of all, it’s men and women in competitive lumberjack events with feats of strength and dexterity. And it’s always fun to watch the lumberjacks. The show also now offers a supper, which is a relatively new addition. The menu may vary by season. For instance, the holiday menu includes a turkey sandwich, dressing, Paula Deen’s green beans, cranberry sauce, chocolate peppermint pie and a drink of choice. Discounts are offered for veterans and first responders. Check Tripster for ticket prices.
Shows without the full dinner experience
There are a few areas shows that are great, and some will offer snacks and food options. But the menu can be a bit more limited and also sold separately. Here are a few shows worth mentioning:
Comedy Barn Theater
The Comedy Barn Theater is owned and operated by The Dollywood Company. It’s a highly-rated show in the area and features a family-friendly, Hee-Haw-style comedy. While it is not a dinner show, it provides the same level of entertainment and you can eat somewhere else beforehand, which can be nice if you like to have options for dinner.
Grand Majestic Theatre
First of all, the show is great. I love Soul of Motown, where talented performers sing classic Motown and tribute tunes from artists like Sam Cooke to the Temptations. I may not be the biggest country music fan to ever live, but give me some classic Motown and I’m a happy guy. Again, the Grand Majestic Theater is not a dinner theater. However, there’s a café – which is as much a concession stand as it is a café – that serves appetizers and alcohol. You can get wings, a BBQ sandwich, a hot dog or deep-fried tacos and take them into the theatre for the show. Visit the website for tickets.
Array is one of the newer entertainment theaters in the Smokies. It offers a variety of shows with comedy, specialty acts, aerialists and world-class singers. While there is no full dinner, refreshments like pretzels, candy and popcorn are available for purchase. To learn more, visit the website.
What’s your favorite dinner show when you’re on vacation in Pigeon Forge TN? Let me know in the comments!