17 New Attractions in Pigeon Forge, Smoky Mountains (2023)

xperia and birdventure

Xperia (left) and BirdVenture (lower right) are just two of the many new and upcoming attractions in the Smoky Mountains (photos by Bill Burris and Morgan Oveholt/TheSmokies.com)

Here are 17 new (and coming soon) attractions in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and the surrounding area

A few weeks ago, we were driving along the strip in Pigeon Forge, something that I – as a local with more than 30 years of experience avoiding the Pigeon Forge traffic – try to avoid but still have to do periodically. We were coming up towards the Wax Museum and I glanced over to my left, which I rarely do in that spot because the kids are so excited to see the giant statue of King Kong’s derriere overlooking the strip like the edifice of Mt. Rushmore but featuring a giant ape’s hairy behind. But this time, something piqued my interest to the left where I saw a new mini-golf course under construction and immediately got excited. Why? It’s a bit of a mystery.

Does Pigeon Forge NEED a new mini-golf course? Yes and No. There are already millions it seems. However, many of them are pretty worn down and if you’re a local who has been playing the area’s many mini golf courses for decades, a new course offers a refreshing change. In fact, when there’s something new afoot in Pigeon Forge – which is frequently – I’m down to explore. Which brings us to this article. If you’re like me, you might be wondering … what’s new (and coming soon) in Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg as of late? Well buckle in reader, it’s going to be a long list.

There are always new attractions popping up in the Great Smoky Mountains. New attractions this year include Sky Pirates of Mermaid Bay, Dig N’ Zone, a Lost Mine coaster and mini golf and more. Also, popular attractions like Ober Mountain, Gatlinburg SkyPark and Anakeesta are expanding and offering new features.

sky pirates
Sky Pirates of Mermaid Bay is expected to open in early to mid-December in Pigeon Forge (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

1. Sky Pirates of Mermaid Bay

COMING SOON – Sky Pirates is only weeks away from opening in Pigeon Forge. The attraction will feature 36 holes of “Epic” mini-golf theming. You choose from two 18-hole courses – one mermaid-themed and one Sky Pirate-themed. In addition to the regular mini-golf obstacles on the courses – one indoor and one on the roof – there are mermaid and sky pirate characters you can meet and interact with along the way. Sky Pirates is located at 2420 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN.

the new store at skypark
The ground-level SkyPark store is now open in Gatlinburg (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

2. SkyPark store

NOW OPEN – This is an idea that is frankly embarrassingly late in its arrival. Gatlinburg SkyPark – the tourism venue, formerly known as Gatlinburg SkyLift Park – just opened a modern, bright, and sleekly designed retail location down on the strip. If you remember for decades the Lift – which is the oldest continually running chairlift in Gatlinburg – had that little kiosk-like stand and kind of an open-air thing where you loaded to go up to the little village atop the mountain.

Now, the shop – which also serves as the ticketing center – offers a great spot for souvenirs ranging from clothing to travel cups and mugs as well as fun gifts. At the time of this writing, it’s open from 9 am to 9 pm and makes for a great access point to head up the mountain to see the SkyBridge – the 700-foot-long cable bridge with 30 feet of glass bottom in the middle that hangs 500 feet above Gatlinburg. SkyPark is located at 765 Parkway, Gatlinburg.

mountain biking at ober
Mountain biking at Ober is a clever way to utilize the ski slopes in warmer weather (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

3. Ober Mountain additions

COMING SOON/NOW OPEN – Ober Mountain – for generations known as Ober Gatlinburg – is under new management and trying to recapture the heights of its former glory. In addition to renovating the rundown nature of things, Ober’s new ownership is bringing some new and/or improved attractions to the mountaintop facility. Including:

  1. Mountain biking: The Ober Mountain Biking program opened in the spring of 2023 and will reopen in the spring of 2024. Ober calls it mountain biking but really, it’s mountain coasting. The chair lift takes you to the top of the mountain and allows bikers to coast down. You can rent a bike, pads, and helmets on-site if needed. You are welcome to bring your bike – but it must meet safety standards and helmets are required. Lessons are available for all levels of riding.
  2. Skiing and snow tubing: These activities aren’t new attractions on the mountain, but Ober is doing more to improve the experience in addition to adding $4 million in state-of-the-art snow machines from Latitude90 and SMI Snow Makers they’ve increased the number of snow tubing lanes to cut down on the wait times in your 90-minute window. The new L60 machines will ensure the production of impeccable snow – it’s real snow made from water – even in the most challenging conditions.⁠ This snow tubing season will have multiple 400-foot lanes and a 50-foot vertical drop as well.
  3. Ziplines: Work is also underway on a new family-friendly zipline adventure. Ober said it will be the only facility in the Eastern United States to offer four-line racing.

Ober Mountain is located at 1339 Ski Mountain Rd, Gatlinburg.

decorative goat on t-rex at goat on roof coaster as part of mini golf course
We hope these goats aren’t Spielberg fans (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

4. Jurassic Tymes @ Goats on the Roof

NOW OPEN – There are times when it’s painfully clear to me that I am out of step with the rest of the world. If someone had asked me: “Hey, do you think it would be a good idea to put a dinosaur-themed mini-golf attraction at Goats of the Roof, the Pigeon Forge attraction known for … having live goats its roof?” The answer would have been simple: “No.  Are you crazy? Didn’t you see Jurassic Park? Keep those precious goats far, far away from the dinosaurs!” But the folks at Goats on the Rood were so worried about wondering whether they could, they never stopped to think about whether they should. The results? As Dr. Ian Malcolm would say, “Chaos!” Ok. Not really.

In the spring of 2023, Goats on the Roof added a very tasteful 36-hole mini golf facility with what I believe to be very well-rendered dinosaur statues. I like dinosaur statues, but I am fighting the urge to quibble with the decided lack of feathers. Dinosaurs were early avian people … we ALL know that. The course is clean and new. It could be a bit more exciting but all in all, it’s a nice course. I just fear for the poor goats’ psyches. Hopefully, they are not Spielberg fans. Goats on the Roof is located at 1341 Wears Valley Rd, Pigeon Forge.

Young Lady Learns to Operate Equipment Dig 'n Zone
It’s somewhat hard to tell which parts of Dig N’ Zone are still under construction due to the construction theme (media photo courtesy of Dig’n Zone)

5. Dig N’ Zone

COMING SOON – We drove by the Dig N’ Zone construction site the other day and a simple realization dawned on me. When you are building a theme park dedicated to life-size Tonka toys, it’s very hard to tell which parts are ready and which parts are still under construction. Couldn’t they have saved money on construction by allowing paying customers to come in and do the work and you just tell them it’s part of the experience?

Scheduled to open in early 2024, Dig N’ Zone will be the world’s largest construction-based theme park with over 25 attractions spread over 27 acres. Attractions will feature real-life construction equipment and guests – young and old – will be able to live out their Tonka truck dreams operating things like skid-steers, excavators, pavement rollers, articulating loaders, tractors and forklifts with some special instruction and plenty of supervision. There will also be construction equipment-based rides including a dump truck ride, duelin’ diggers, and an excavator spinner. Dig N’ Zone is located at 1707 Veterans Blvd, Sevierville.

lost mine mountain coaster and mini golf
The Lost Mine mountain coaster and mini golf held its grand opening earlier this week (photo by Mogan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

6. Lost Mine Mountain Coaster and Mini Golf

NOW OPEN – The Lost Mine Mountain Coaster and Mini-Golf facility is the latest – as of this writing, there will probably be three more mountain coasters open before I finish this sentence – in the mountain coaster game in the Smokies.

The Lost Mine ride – which opened in the fall of 2023 – boasts of having the area’s longest ride, a next-generation safety system (designed by Jean-Luc Picard?), and an immersive themed environment. The mini golf course has 18 holes of fun with water features and trick shots. The course is a little basic in design – there aren’t any goat-eating dinosaurs for instance – and I prefer some theming and shrubbery amongst the holes so I don’t have to interact with other people – but it’s new and clean and not falling apart which puts it in the upper half of Pigeon Forge golf courses. You can bundle a mountain coaster ride with a round of golf for some savings. Lost Mine is located at 2509 Teaster Ln, Pigeon Forge.

the wayback hotel
The Wayback Hotel will make you feel you’ve gone back in time (photos by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

7. The Wayback Hotel

NOW OPEN – We’re going back. How far are we going back? Way back. The folks at the Wayback Hotel’s goal is to transport you back in time AND SPACE – to Palm Springs, California. The hotel, located next to another time-traveling adventure, the Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride – is a Marriott Family Hotel with flair. It’s billed as a retro paradise in a quirky mountain town. It’s located directly across from, and within walking distance of, The Island in Pigeon Forge. The hotel features booth standard rooms as well as upgraded suites. There’s also a heated pool and a giant hot tub on site. And here’s the best part – you don’t even have to stay at the Wayback to enjoy the vibe. The Paloma, the hotel’s Latin fusion restaurant and bar, is open to the general public complete with poolside dining. The Wayback is located at 2760 Parkway, Pigeon Forge.

rendering of the new crayola experience in Pigeon Forge
A rendering of the new Crayola Experience, coming soon to Pigeon Forge (media photo courtesy of the Crayola Experience)

8. The Crayola Experience

COMING SOON – According to a press release, BrightColors LLC – in partnership with Kingsmen Xperience Inc. and Crayola LLC – announced that Pigeon Forge, Tenn. will be home to the creativity brand’s newest Crayola Experience family entertainment venue. The 30,000-square-foot indoor family entertainment center planned for Pigeon Forge will have more than 20 hands-on attractions as well as a retail store that features the world’s largest selection of Crayola products and unique souvenirs. The new experience is expected to open in the fall of 2024.

The NERF Action-Xperience rendering
The NERF Action-Xperience is set to open next year (rendering courtesy of Hasbro/Kingsmen Xperience)

9. NERF Action-Xperience

COMING SOON – Hasbro recently announced a new family-friendly NERF-themed play arena coming to Pigeon Forge in the fall of 2024. The attraction will reportedly feature more than 29,000 square feet of blaster battle zones, sports challenges and obstacle courses. There will also be a food and beverage area as well as a souvenir shop. There will even be a space for adult activities such as team building corporate events and parties.

a sign for exit 407 gateway for adventure
The Smoky Gap District will be part of the Exit 407 developments (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

10. The Smoky Gap District

COMING SOON – Officials with Kituwah, LLC are officially beginning the development of Smoky Gap, a new entertainment district that will be located in The 407: Gateway to Adventure in Sevierville. The development is a partnership with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. According to a release, the new entertainment complex will be home to attractions, restaurants, retail shops, and more. At the center, it will feature a large clock tower. During phase one of the project, the venue is expected to open the Smoky Gap District and a Marriott Courtyard in 2025. Phase two, according to the release, will be home to an overnight destination with a premier resort.

Puy du Fou in France
A show in the theme park Le Puy du Fou in France (photo by Alexey Gorshenin/shutterstock.com)

11. Puy du Fou

COMING SOON – Speaking of exciting things expected to come to Exit 407, we also have Puy du Fou to look forward to. In case you missed it, the European theme park company Puy Du Fou plans to bring its unique historical attraction to The 407: Gateway to Adventure. 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. 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 press release. 

gov bill lee speaks at the buc-ee's opening event
Governor Bill Lee attended the Buc-ee’s grand opening event (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

12. Buc-ee’s

NOW OPEN – Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably already heard the news about this one. The Sevierville (technically Kodak) Buc-ee’s location in Tennessee is officially open. The store held a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 26, 2023. The Sevierville store is currently the largest travel center in the world, at least for a while. The new location offers 120 fueling positions just outside its store with thousands of snack, meal, and drink options for travelers on the go. The store’s 74,000-square-foot floor plan will remain the biggest Buc-ee’s until that record moves back to Texas, where construction is currently underway on a 75,000-square-foot location in Luling. Buc-ee’s is located at 170 Buc-ee’s Blvd, Kodak, TN.

big bear
Big Bear Mountain debuted at Dollywood last May (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

13. Big Bear Mountain at Dollywood

NOW OPEN – Most folks know by now about Big Bear Mountain at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge. The new family coaster is part of the $500 million expansion plan that was first announced in 2021. The new coaster opened in May, setting the record for the longest and largest roller coaster in the park. Dollywood is located at 2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd, Pigeon Forge, TN.

heartsong lobby
The glamorous Dollywood Heartsong Lodge and Resort is now open and decked out for the holidays (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

14. Heartsong Lodge & Resort

NOW OPEN – Speaking of the $500 million Dollywood Company expansion, Heartsong Lodge & Resort opened earlier this month in Pigeon Forge, TN right across from Dolly’s first resort, DreamMore. The new resort features 302 rooms with high ceilings, exposed beans, and layered textures. Suites are designed for families and couples. There are even a few lofts available. There are also indoor and outdoor pools as well as 6-on site dining options (from room service to quick service to table service). Heartsong is located at 1210 Dollywood Resorts Blvd, Pigeon Forge, TN.

a photo of two renderings showing the updates to wilderness at the smokies complete with a new rooftop pool
Wilderness at the Smokies will soon have a rooftop pool (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

15. Wilderness at the Smokies expansion

COMING SOON – Expansions are underway at Wilderness at the Smokies Resort. To celebrate the resort’s 15th anniversary, Wilderness has started a 40,000-square-foot expansion of Wild WaterDome. The expansion will include a new three-story water coaster and a new lazy river. The resort will also have an expanded rooftop which will include a rooftop pool with a glass edge, complete with a rooftop bar. These expansions are expected to be completed in the spring of 2024. Editor’s Note: If you’re considering a stay at Wilderness, be sure to check Groupon for discounts. Wilderness at the Smokies is located at 1424 Old Knoxville Hwy, Sevierville.

xperia ocean journey
Xperia Ocean Journey is now open in Sevierville (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

16. Xperia Ocean Journey

NOW OPEN – Xperia Ocean Journey is a cinematic experience that uses visual effects and technology that transport guests into the depths of the ocean to see humpback whales, thresher sharks, sea lions, and more. The experience is created by impressive artists who have worked on “Game of Thrones”, “Wonder Woman” and “Westworld” according to the attraction’s website. The new feature will be part of Tanger Outlets in Sevierville. Xperia is located at 1645 Parkway #780, Sevierville.

anakeesta's bird venturer
Anakeesta’s new BirdVenture and Hellbender Mountain Coaster are now open (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

17. Anakeesta expansion

NOW OPEN/COMING SOON – The ever-growing Anakeesta recently unveiled two parts of their three-part expansion: BirdVenture – an imaginative birds-best themed child’s play area complete with slides and life-sized bird houses; and Hellbender Mountain Coaster featuring heart-pounding twists, gravity-defying drops, and jaw-dropping views. Both are now open at Anakeesta. The final part of this expansion features a brand new shopping area, which, at the time of this writing, is still under construction but expected to open soon.

Are you looking forward to a new attraction on your next Smoky Mountain vacation? Do you know of any additional attractions we might have missed? Let us know in the comments.

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Disclosure: We have used and experienced all the products and activities recommended on The Smokies. We may receive compensation when you click on links to some products and experiences featured.

38 thoughts on “17 New Attractions in Pigeon Forge, Smoky Mountains (2023)”

  1. Sky Fly was Awesome 👍 I highly recommend That People take a Ride and see Lots of Stunning Beautiful Places up Close and just like being there !

    Reply
  2. One thing missing from the area is live music. I would have thought the music scene, being so close to Nashville, would be amazing but there’s really nothing here. A cool outdoor amphitheater and some live music venues would be awesome. Branson would have to play second fiddle. No pun intended. Lol

    Reply
  3. I sure was hoping that since I heard that Dolly purchased Smoky Mountain Opry she would bring back the shows there.. The Christmas show was totally amazing and would love to see it again. A show everyone would enjoy of all ages.

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  4. Another roller coaster ….. just what Dollywood needs😳🙄
    Bring the mountain feel back like it used to be instead of all the technology, new age, whatever you call it! Dolly is so not what it was 30 years ago! Too much modernizing took away the mountain way ! And roller coasters galore‼️ Who’s the one obsessed with roller coasters? I wouldn’t think it would be Dolly‼️ Bring back country music entertainers with shows every weekend or so!! More shows like it used to be! I’m sorry….. I don’t do well with change!!!

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  5. Would love to find a better and more timeshares in the Smokies. Not any that are pushy and trying to get more money from you when you visit there. Need more affordable places to stay.

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  6. I missed the Smokey Mountain Opry Christmas Show this year. I hope they bring it back. Christmas wasn’t Christmas without Slim Pickens.

    Headliners would be nice. The Louis Mandrell show was The Best (I’m dating myself).

    Reply
  7. So much new development every year. The area is going to become overgrown and lose the charm and atmosphere of the area. 😢😢

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  8. More and more attractions means more and more people with no new roads to accommodate the traffic. I love seeing the area so busy but we seriously need new roads or something

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  9. Getting too commercial and crowded. Need more I’ve music like years in the past. Keep costs down as it’s getting very expensive. A lot of the things we go back for are gone. Own at Westgate and would like to sale.

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  10. I’ve only rode through, seems very commercial. If music isn’t there no reason to stop for us.

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  11. Can’t see spending all that money on a coaster!! More shows would have been much better at decent prices.

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  12. I agree with the “more shows and dinners” I have been going there 2-3 times a year since 2013 and it has changed and a lot closed down. Lumberjack show is now out in the heat. I always wanted to see it but the moved and changed it. If they wanna change something then change the Stampede show! It is so old and out dated.

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  13. Would love to see more musical entertainment at Dollywood. Build or remodel existing theaters. We go for the music and the beauty of the festivals. We did enjoy all the additional musicians out in the Park during Christmas. We are hearing this from others who also go for the music. Festival of Nations used to be wonderful but the last few years they had it was not.
    Loved Spring Mix but that didn’t come back after one year.

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  14. Affordable lodging
    Most families cannot afford your area. It has gone from quant and natural, to an over priced tourist trap.
    I love the area and seek out quiet natural retreats. But if you’ve seen one Ripply’s you’ve seen them all.
    Your area used to be unique.

    Reply
  15. need to get the liquor under control. all those moonshine tasters are destroying the family atmosphere. Worst thing they allowed to happen– drunks are now everywhere and I for one dont want my children exposed to that. We had people puking off the balconies of our hotel.

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  16. My family and I love pigeon forge in 2018 we was talked into a visit at the resort between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinbug and sunk 3500.00 in a vacation package. Well the next year we tried and tried to get in , followed the directions. And did what we was supposed to do , and all they would give us was a motel out just before you leave pigeon forge nothing like the showed us . What a disappointment plus the loss of 3500 dollars . But I still came back wrote it off as my stupidity, that would had paid a couple of years vacation there. But on the brighter side we now stay at riverside spa and resort we love it there my kids love and a great place to bring my grandson . And my son and his friends can walk to almost everything that teenager loves to do . This was a very expensive lesson , but we will return to Riverside spa and resort in the spring and summer. Like I said we love the place and the area. I’ve been coming here since I was a kid with my parents.

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  17. I would love to see some live entertainment along the parkway in the evening time when everyone is out walking. There use to be some and we really enjoyed them, even down on the Island for people to listen to as they shop…

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  18. Too much change an commercial dont like all this change but wth they going to find people to work all these places can’t find people now

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  19. New options are great, but who is going to fill the staffing positions? The wait at restaurants takes hours and the service is not what it used to be. Also I would like the “country” feel to return and not so much of the fast past way of life. Enough moonshine already, I want the dry laws back or at least slow down the approval of the liquor license. I loved the live music coming from areas around town where folks could stop and listen for a spell while shopping or waiting for dinner. Gatlinburg has lost its luster for me …. Maybe I am just old fashioned and long for the good ole days from my youth. Think about it!

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  20. I think what everyone here complaining is missing is that the town has to grow in order for the economy to sustain. When the city loses revenue, schools don’t improve, roads don’t improve, buildings aren’t fixed, etc. Your individual tax dollars only go so far. The town thrives on the revenue from sales tax paid by tourists to improve the town. Tourism is the backbone of the community and if it can’t compete with Branson, Orlando, myrtle beach, etc, the town itself will be a ghost town.

    Your alternative is paying an income tax, which will hurt your bank accounts more than traffic.

    Welcome to reality folks.

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  21. Been going to the Smoky mountains for over 50 years, I miss seeing the guys set up in parking lots playing good country music.

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  22. Check out the Bearpaw Palace on Big Bear Way !!!!!…Pigeon Forge …..clean, comfy , Mountain Views , oversized balcony and close to a myriad of Restaurants, Attractions, just a few mIles from Dollywood , minutes from The Island!!…….

    Reply
  23. Bring on the music, the square dancers, the clogging dancers. More shows, even Dollywood had more shows in the yester years. For get the shops, the mini golf, or the race cars. Smoky Mountains should be about music and the Mountains.

    Reply
  24. Finally…a recap of coming attractions that doesn’t read like advertising copy. (And I say this as a professional advertising copywriter [43 years and counting].)

    Informative, beautifully written, and funny. Thank you! Will be following your future career with interest, as Bertie Wooster would say. (Not really. Will simply be reading your articles.)

    Reply

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