One of the things I like about coming to Pigeon Forge, Sevier County and the Great Smoky Mountains area, in general, is the constant state of renewal and evolution.
Every time you come to the mountains, the experience changes a little because the towns themselves evolve.
Long-time attractions close and are often swiftly replaced. And sometimes, they are not so swiftly replaced. Some manage to linger on, flickering the spark of former glories before going out entirely.
Each season in the mountains brings something new, something different for the generations of families of Pigeon Forge visitors.
The new, top-notch variety of attractions can make each visit feel like the first time. It’s the case even if you’ve visited dozens of times before.
And this season, that sense of change seems even more pronounced than usual. There’s a lot of new stuff in the Smokies. There are new attractions, new restaurants and new hotels. And there are many more things on the way.
Here are some of the new attractions coming soon to Pigeon Forge and the surrounding areas:
11. Sanctuary Treehouse Resort
The Sanctuary Treehouse Resort is the vision of Amanda and Brian Jensen. The couple currently runs the SkyCenter restaurant and shop at the top of the scenic chairlift at SkyLift Park in Gatlinburg.
The Sanctuary Tree House promises to be the largest treehouse resort in the world. It will be located on 40 acres of land near the Soaky Mountain Waterpark in Sevierville.
Offering fantastic views and three kinds of treehouse rentals, the prices will start at $399 per night.
Scheduled to open in late summer or early fall of 2022, the resort will be golf cart access only.
The area will include walking trails and a lit enchanted forest. The resort also plans to feature a community area for live music and entertainment, a community inground hot tub and more.
10. Patriot Park Transit Center
This $5.4 million facility is located at Old Mill Avenue next to Patriot Park and the Old Mill. It is a central hub for the third-largest rural transit system in the United States.
Certainly, Pigeon Forge is working all the time to improve traffic flow. Roads have been widened and access improved. However, there’s only so much that can be done. In other words, the city needs visitors to use the mass transit trolley system.
Therefore, if used, the system would go a long way to prevent traffic cutting off access to things like the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the area’s popular attractions and restaurants.
The new facility was nearly two years in development and is now open. It offers 10 new trolley berths and a dedicated lane of traffic for loading and unloading passengers.
“Pigeon Forge mass transit’s annual ridership continues to increase, and as demand for public transportation grows, so does our need for an improved facility that will accommodate not only more passengers but also more efficient traffic flow and additional parking,” said Pigeon Forge City Manager Earlene Teaster noted at the facility’s groundbreaking.
“As Pigeon Forge welcomes more residents and visitors, better public transportation is more important than ever.”
9. Puy du Fou
European theme park company Puy Du Fou is bringing its unique brand of historical attraction to The 407: Gateway to Adventure. The development is a partnership with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
The two have agreed to develop a “spectacular, immersive show” as part of the 200 acre development just south of Interstate 40 in Kodak.
Tribal leaders approved $75 million for phase one of the project that could attract as many as 6.7 million visitors after phase 1 is complete, sometime in 2024.
The immersive walk-through show will be inspired by the journey of Cherokee Indians who served in World War I. The show is intended to be a “patriotic and moving journey for the entire family,” according to a release.
8. SkyLand Ranch
Set to open later this summer, Skyland Ranch is supposed to be everything that’s great about visiting the Smokies in one convenient location.
Visitors will take a scenic chairlift to the top of Skyland Ranch where they will experience a mile-long mountain coaster, a suspended bridge with a wide walkway, canopy walks, shopping and dining.
SkyLand Ranch will also be home to a variety of miniature animals including mini cows and donkeys.
Shopping options will include a toy shop, a Christmas shop, a souvenir shop and more. The plan is for this to become a premier Smoky Mountain vacation destination on par with Gatlinburg’s Anakeesta.
7. Guy Fieri’s Downtown Flavortown
Flavortown is the newest addition, for now, on Teaster Lane and is now open. If Dave and Buster’s is grown-up Chuck E. Cheese, then Flavortown is grown-up ShowBiz Pizza.
It is located near Pigeon Forge Snow and features – for better or worse – Fieri’s signature cuisine. Downtown Flavortown offers something for the entire family.
Flavortown sports an arcade, a 14-lane duckpin bowling alley, a full-service tropical tiki bar and – at least in theory – delicious food.
Of course, if delicious food is what you’re really after, Azul Cantina will also be located on Teaster Lane. Azul is opening soon and sounds promising as a flavorful twist on traditional Tex-Mex dining. The restaurant features wood-fired grilling methods and traditional Mexican cooking styles with roots from South America to Texas.
6. The Edge at Soaky Mountain
The waterpark itself is still considered among the best new attractions in the area. But in this business, if you’re not growing, you’re shrinking.
To that end, in addition to a new Philly cheesesteak food truck, the waterpark will debut a new, first-of-its-kind water coaster called “The Edge” in June 2022.
Named after the lead guitarist in the Irish rock band U2 – just kidding – The Edge runs two football fields in length.
And that may be 200 yards depending on whether or not they’re counting the end zones. If so, that would make it a total of 240 yards. For the love of Mike, stop measuring things in football fields, people, it’s imprecise.
“A 70-foot tower will be home to the new slides. Double tubes will sit side by side, each in their own assigned lane. When the light turns green, they will be propelled down a three-story mega drop that leads to the first valley of the ride,” the Soaky website promises.
“Then, they will be quickly blasted up a hill and into a section featuring a kaleidoscope of colors.”
Then, there will be a second uphill blast. Riders are then taken into another enclosed tube segment, where they will encounter colorful, laser-like AquaLucent stripes.
What are AquaLucent stripes?
I don’t think AquaLucent is a word. If it is, I think it means the riders will be able to talk telepathically talk to fish. I hope someone ran this by the Soaky Mountain legal team.
These stripes will start longer. But then become shorter and shorter, giving a sense of sci-fi speed while the riders progress into a turn.
When the riders emerge out of their tube, they will see not one but two imposing Boomerango walls ahead of them. OK. Now I know the people at Soaky Mountain are making stuff up.
After the Boomerango, they’ll encounter a pair of twirly dervy, scrumdiddlyumptious, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, vermicious knids before dropping to the base of the wall. All the while experiencing extreme Gs.
And surely pondering an existence in which they have to reckon with words like AquaLucent and Boomerango.
As the momentum takes the riders up the parallel walls, they will see their competitors as they feel a sense of weightlessness before sliding back down. As a finishing touch, the riders will go over a zero-G hump to the end of the ride. The finish line is stacked with lights and effects to indicate the winner and who went over “The Edge”.
It may be a good time, but it also sounds like a lot to me.
5. The rumored new ride at Dollywood
There is no better example of the changing face of tourism in the Smokies than the Dollywood theme park.
Inspired by the queen of reinvention herself, Dolly Parton, Dollywood has been at the forefront of good planning and growth for nearly 40 years now.
Site plans indicate a new coaster is coming to Wildwood Grove, known for now as Family Attraction 2023.
It’s important to note that this attraction has not yet been confirmed by Dollywood.
However, during a June 17, 2021, Pigeon Forge City Council meeting, Dollywood President Eugene Naughton mentioned plans for a “multi-generational rollercoaster” set to open in 2023.
The new plan includes what appears to be a rollercoaster without loops or corkscrews. The attraction follows along the edge of Wildwood Grove, almost to the opposite end of the area near Till & Harvest Food Hall.
At the furthest reaches of the ride, there would be a water feature. But how that water feature would interact with the ride is not apparent.
The plans are not final. But thus far, comparing relative size to other coasters in the park, the multi-generational rollercoaster would be among the longest rides in the park, dwarfing the Dragonflier.
4. Shine Girl
Dolly Parton’s niece Danielle has quite a resume. The first female Parton to graduate college, she became a flight attendant before joining the Air National Guard.
In fact, she served as a pilot who operated the C-130 and C-5 aircraft in combat, deploying numerous times in harm’s way. In 2014, she began flying the Airbus A320 family of aircraft.
Now, she’s operating the Shine Girl label of moonshine. She’s following in the steps of some of her ancestors and is directly opposed to the life path of others.
“When I decided to try my hand at making shine, I decided I wanted to include what my ancestors did but also put my own twist on things. I love using honey, sugar or molasses instead of corn and in addition to corn,” says the website.
“Thankfully, I stumbled on a delicious recipe that Shine Girl drinkers will enjoy!”
The Shine Girl website promises a “Smart, Playful and Delicious” moonshine, which is all well and good, I suppose.
However, if I’m being honest only one of those three words should ever be used to describe moonshine. I don’t care how much honey, sugar or molasses they used.
Located on Jenkins Road in Sevierville, Shine Girl is now open. It sells quite a bit of pretty cool-looking merch. I could see this becoming one of the best places to visit for a unique moonshine experience in the mountains.
Here we are my friends, the big dog on the new attraction map.
Buc-ees – the Texas-based convenience store with a huge following – is coming to Exit 407 in Sevierville. Once completed, the Sevier County location will be the world’s largest convenience store at 74,000 square feet.
The Travel Center will be located at I-40 Exit 407. It will feature 120 fueling positions, EV charging stations and a 250-foot-long car wash. An opening date has not yet been announced.
2. Lumina Enchanted Night Walk at Anakeesta
Anakeesta recently announced a brand-new, nighttime immersive experience. And they are teaming up with Canadian-based multimedia entertainment studio, Moment Factory, to bring it to life.
According to the attraction, the Lumina Night Walk will be the first of its kind in the United States. It will be a stellar journey of discovery that offers the City of Gatlinburg a new nighttime offering unlike anything else in the country.
“As one of Tennessee’s premier destinations, we strive to bring innovative adventures to our guests and we are thrilled to introduce an incomparable nighttime experience to the country,” said Bob Bentz, Founder and Managing Partner of Anakeesta.
The experience will feature projections, lighting and music that will create a unique experience with “special effects” and “enchanting storytelling” as well as “more surprises”.
The opening date has not yet been released for this new feature.
If you plan to visit Anakeesta, remember to check Tripster for discounts.
1. The Pines
Downtown Sevierville is growing again.
WATE recently reported that the former site of Pines Theater in Sevierville has plans to be remodeled.
The site is best known for being the place where a young, 10-year-old Dolly Parton reportedly first performed in front of a paid audience.
The new venue will be named The Pines. It will be an entertainment venue with duckpin bowling, video games, bocce ball, board games and more.
The Pines will also have a bar and food service. The project is projected to open by the end of the year.
Bonus: Parson Branch Road
While not an attraction in the traditional sense, we wanted to mention the reopening of Parson Branch Road in the Great Smoky Mountains.
After a six-year closure, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park recently hosted a small ribbon-cutting to celebrate the re-opening of Parson Branch Road.
The Friends of the Smokies provided $100,000 in funds, matching $50,000 in federal funds, to support the removal of perished trees along the roadside and make needed road repairs.
Crews worked diligently to ensure visitors would have the opportunity to enjoy this unique driving experience in time for Memorial Day weekend and the start of the 2022 summer season in the Smokies.
Parson Branch Road is a historic, gravel road that follows a route traveled by people for more than 180 years. The narrow, one-way road provides motorists a trail-like experience through a mature forest canopy and nearly 20 stream crossings.
The road has been closed for six years due to a high concentration of more than 1,700 perished hemlock trees along a mile long section of the roadway.
Are you looking forward to a new attraction in Pigeon Forge? Do you know of any additional attractions? Let us know in the comments.