Smoky Mountain native gives an honest review of Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride
Growing up around the Smoky Mountains, I often saw it while riding down the Parkway. It’s too large and too cheesy lookin’ to miss. Yes, my friends, today I’m talking about the Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride. Is it an area icon? Or is it nothing more than a tourist trap?
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For the uninitiated or perhaps just oblivious, I’ll 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. Instead, it’s led by a track. It has animatronics that, after years of use, are admittedly showing their age.
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My experience on the Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride
From the moment I arrived at this attraction, I only saw one employee on-site during the course of our visit. He both worked the ticket booth and waved guests on and off the ride. In the queue, I saw an assortment of mismatched mannequins. Some of them were missing limbs. At first, I wondered if it was on purpose for effect. But after 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.
Overall, the queue was fairly short and the wait time was minimal. I was able to board in just under 10 minutes. The best way to describe the Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride is to imagine Disney World’s “It’s a Small World”. Except, this ride has far less funding, more dinos and is missing the annoying music. It’s also three times darker. The “boat” is mildly jerky, but I would say that it’s no more jerky than the Blazing Fury at Dollywood just 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 and maybe lets out a roar. You hear some sound effects until the scene goes dark again and you move on.
What to expect on the ride: Pricing, ride length and more
If you’re riding this with your family, I would note that this ride could be scary for toddlers. But you know your child better than I do. That being said, I think most adults will find the ride to be fairly uneventful. Also, you will not get wet on the ride. Not even a light sprinkle. In fact, I had kind of hoped there would be a light sprinkle or mist since the ride was a bit humid. The total ride time is exactly 10 minutes long.
I think the ride is a little expensive for what it is. In my experience, general admission for the 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. Pricing is subject to change. Also, you must buy your tickets on-site.
Is the Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride a tourist trap or a beloved icon?
Now 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.
Pro tourist trap arguments
Those who would put this attraction in the category of a tourist trap would argue that it’s overpriced, outdated and poorly maintained. After all, you’re paying nearly $20 per adult for 10 minutes of “entertainment”. Compare that to other popular area attractions that can offer a day-long experience. Soaky Mountain, for instance, is under $50 for general admission for an entire day’s worth of entertainment. 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 3.0-star review on Google. On my last visit, I noticed that the phone didn’t even seem to actually work. To be clear, it rings. But no one ever seems to answer the call. In fact, I tried calling the attraction using the phone number listed on their website 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. And the phone never rang.
Pro beloved icon arguments
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.
And if I am 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. Blazing Fury has a few more thrills, but is it fair to say that 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 probably great for little kids who don’t mind the dark and love dinosaurs.
So to be honest, I’m on the fence. What do YOU think about the Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee? Let me know in the comments below. View the story version of this article here.