I took my kids to Pigeon Forge Snow, one of America’s first indoor snow parks. As I stood there, in a chilly, cavernous room, staring at a wall of artificial snow that was considerably higher than I anticipated, a single thought bounced through my brain.
“There is no way she’s gonna do that,” I thought, ruefully considering the $25 I’d spent before being able to spy the hill. “This is gonna be ugly.”
Ainsley, the 5-year-old in question, lacking the ability from the bottom of the hill to accurately assess just what the view from the top of the hill was going to look like, be-bopped along behind her 8-year-old brother and ahead of her 15-year-old sister.
Disaster nearly struck before she made it to the top of the hill.
Her brother, bristling with excitement and showing all the protective instincts of a species that immediately abandons its brothers and sisters at birth, took his tube up the escalator ramp without ever looking back.
When big sister got delayed scanning her wrist band, Ainsley found herself disoriented about half way up, stepped off the conveyor belt and stood watching as her tube continued to climb the artificial hill, covered in artificial snow, without her.
My wife Leslie and I had, again before seeing the hill, elected not to sled and just watch the kids go. As I watched the workers stop the conveyor and go rescue my youngest daughter, I considered briefly that this may have been a tactical error on our part.
Her big sister Sofia got her wrist band scanned and all three kids made it to the top of the hill where five of the Pigeon Forge Snow lanes were running.
Her brother JP went first with all the unearned confidence of his eight years. He raced down the hill covered with artificial snow and back up the ramp to the padded landing area. Before his sled came to a complete stop, he was off the tube and pulling it back up for another run.
A critical miscalculation
Here is where I expected disaster. I’d read the rules and understood Ainsley could not ride with Sofia, but I realized, watching my tiny daughter gesticulating up on top of that far away hill that I had not communicated that information to either of my daughters.
I watched, expecting her to abort the mission at any moment. But she loaded onto her sled and Sofia onto hers in the next lane. Suddenly they were off, racing down the side of the hill, the sled turning mid-ride so that she finished going backward, her hair blowing wildly into her face.
I expected tears.
I expected condemnation.
I expected possibly some cursing. Ainsley’s mother has a sailor’s mouth and occasionally the precocious tyke will try a big girl word in a moment of stress.
What I got instead was a hesitation.
Then a smile.
Then another trip up the hill.
“Wow,” I thought to myself. “She’s gonna do it.”
Not so fast my friend.
Ainsley made it to the top of the hill and slid down without incident.
Then she walked right up to her mother and said, “I’m done.”
We were 10 minutes into the hour’s worth of time we’d purchased and she was out.
Meanwhile big brother and sister were having a blast.
So we took Ainsley’s wrist band and gave it to my wife. This may have not been entirely kosher, I didn’t ask but we’d paid for the time and there’s only one price for adults and kids, so I didn’t feel like we were cheating.
Leslie and our two oldest spent the next 50 minutes racing down the slide while Ainsley and I cheered from the observation deck. Even just watching, I thought the hour went quickly, so I imagine it was even more so the ones doing the actual sledding.
Leslie and Sofia reported smooth sailing but JP, who probably through sheer hustle had six or seven more runs, reported afterwards that his butt was a little sore from bumping along.
Spotted: Another family miscalculation
I did, from my spot on the observation deck, see another family who made a miscalculation similar to ours. At the top of the hill, their little girl didn’t want to go down. Some words of encouragement gave way to the father plopping the daughter down in the middle of the tube but she was squirming out almost as soon as her body touched the sled.
After some failed cajoling, they walked away and let others go.
Eventually I noticed them back at the top of the hill; the little girl had built up her resolve.
The three raced, side by side to the bottom of the hill, before sliding to a halt.
The girl looked up beaming.
“That was fun,” she said and grabbed her tube ready to go again.
About Pigeon Forge Snow
Pigeon Forge Snow is an indoor sledding facility featuring artificial snow made from water. There are no chemicals used.
It is a bit cool inside the facility. Long pants are recommended — and if you’re cold natured — a light jacket or long-sleeved shirt is a good idea.
Riders must be at least 3 years old and 38 inches tall. Bookings are available online and sold in one-hour increments. Walk-ups are available.
The number of rides you get in an hour depends somewhat on the crowd. The course was pretty empty when we got there, and if you’re willing to hustle like my son JP, you can get quite a few rides in during your hour. The crowd grew towards the end and the wait was a little longer, but all in all, I’d say you can get plenty of sledding done in an hour.
Pigeon Forge Snow is located at 2533 Teaster Lane, Pigeon Forge, TN. For more information, visit them online at pigeonforgesnow.com.