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?
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.
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.
The queue was fairly short and the wait time was minimal. We were able to board in just under 10 minutes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What do YOU think?
In summary, pro tourist trap arguments include:
- The phone number is just for giggles
Pro beloved icon arguments include:
- 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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