There is a picture that resides in a dusty album in my grandmother’s Florida home. It’s of a nearly 5-year-old version of me, circa 1979.
There I am, sandy blonde bowl cut, John Denver style. I’m wearing shorts that stop so far up my thigh it looks like I’m dressed for a doubles match with John McEnroe.
My arms are stretched out horizontally from my shoulders and bent at the elbow, scarecrow style.
On each bicep rests a large, colorful parrot with a death grip on my quivering arms.
It is a photo-op from Busch Gardens.
Clearly, someone thought it would be a good idea to take their only grandchild at the time, the jewel of their very existence, and turn him into a parrot perch.
My eyes? Wide with terror.
My arms? Shaking with exertion from supporting the weight of these two birds like I’m going through an initiation for some insane band of child Pirate Marines.
My teeth? Gritted and bared like a domesticated wolverine trying desperately to remember what it was like to be feral while being told to smile.
Honestly, had they not had their wings clipped, the two tropical winged beasts might have taken flight and carried me off to unknown realms to feast on my terrified 5-year-old soul.
That was the first and last time I allowed myself to be used as a perch.
I wouldn’t say I developed a phobia or anything, but I have had no desire to stand idly by as a large bird digs its directly-descended-from-velociraptors-razor talons into my flesh.
As a now-grown man, I have, however, been recently rethinking my position.
I felt it might be time to brush the dirt off my shoulder and let a bird rest there once again.
And thanks to Parrot Mountain near Dollywood in Pigeon Forge I knew just the place to do it.
Editor’s Note: There’s a sign at Parrot Mountain that forbids commercial photography without written permission. TheSmokies.com has made attempts to contact the attraction for permission, but have not heard back. (And we have beautiful photos we’d love to share!) If you work at Parrot Mountain, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Is Parrot Mountain indoor or outdoor?
Parrot Mountain is officially known as “Parrot Mountain and the Garden of Eden”.
Parrot Mountain is a paradise for psittaciformes, parrots, cockatoos and other colorful tropical types including macaws, toucans, hornbills and others.
The birds are housed in beautiful English-style cottages. They are free to enjoy sun, rain and fresh air as part of their habitat.
They sing, talk and even dance showing off a stunning array of beautiful plumage. It’s a spectacle that is perfect for bird lovers or photography buffs.
It may be important to note, this attraction is about 80 percent outside. So you may want to take an umbrella, especially during the rainy season.
How long do you need at Parrot Mountain?
We strongly suggest reserving 2-3 hours to enjoy this walk-through attraction – there’s a lot to see and do.
Parrot Mountain is an eco-tourist park. It features more than 80 different types of birds with hundreds and hundreds of individual birds on display.
During your visit, you can check out the nursery where the babies are hand-fed. You can experience the walk-in aviary and feed nectar from a cup to the Australian Lorikeets housed there.
And the beautiful plumage isn’t the only wonder on-site.
The Garden of Eden is a perfect place to stop and enjoy lunch from the Parrot Mountain Deli while taking in the wondrous cacophony of hundreds of birds singing, talking and squawking.
The immaculately cultivated gardens are full of thousands of flowers, pleasing green walkways and stone features.
Paved walkways lead past butterfly, peacock and dragonfly benches where you can rest to a soothing stone waterfall.
In the Secret Garden, toucans, horn bills and magpies are allowed to fly freely, which is really pretty cool.
The whole thing should feel odd.
Tropical birds living in a mountain setting heavily influenced by the architectural designs of the British Isles? But it works. The setting is a perfect backdrop for the birds’ bright color palette.
In the bird garden, you may feed the parrots and have souvenir pictures taken while holding the birds.
Can you buy a bird at Parrot Mountain?
Parrot Mountain is essentially a bird zoo in which you can take home a one-of-a-kind souvenir: One of the birds.
While Parrot Mountain sells the animals as pets, I implore you: Do not take a parrot as an impulse buy. These birds can live a long time.
The African Grey Parrot can live as many as 65 years in captivity.
Even more impressively, wild macaws can live 60 years in the wild. The oldest pet macaw reportedly lived 112 years, but I don’t know that I believe that business.
Parrots specifically, and birds in general, can make great and entertaining pets. But you are making a multi-decade commitment to an animal when you bring one home.
Goldfish, they ain’t.
How much are the birds at Parrot Mountain?
Birds range in price from $650-6,000 depending on the rarity of the species.
Pro-tip: If you are in the market for a bird, there’s a better selection at Parrot Mountain’s storefront at the Island in Pigeon Forge. And, they carry some of the rarer varieties.
How much does it cost to visit Parrot Mountain? Is it worth it?
At the time of this writing, tickets to Parrot Mountain are $24.95 for adults, $12.95 for kids 2 to 11 and $18.95 for seniors. Parrot Mountain closes seasonally in the winter for the birds’ protection.
We think that Parrot Mountain, given this overall affordable price and ability to deliver a near half-day of entertainment, delivers a fair bang for your buck.
So is Parrot Mountain “worth it”? We think yes.
Have you ever visited Parrot Mountain in Pigeon Forge? Let us know about your experience in the comments!