What is the upside down house in Pigeon Forge? A look at what’s inside


Wonderworks in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., is sometimes referred to as the upside down house (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

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The bend of the Parkway shortly after the transition from Sevierville to Pigeon Forge is one of the more surreal stretches of land in the Smokies. 

Everything appears to be seemingly normal. There are hotels and restaurants – including the McDonalds that sits on the land where my wife and her family lived when she was a young girl. 

Pretty standard stuff, really. 

Then, as you cross the Hard Rock Cafe, things get weird quickly. There’s the looming silhouette of the Titanic museum rising above the hill ahead.

Across the Parkway sits a pair of giant hands holding an extremely out-of-date camera above the entrance to a building being crushed by a falling skyscraper, also known as Beyond the Lens!

Don’t worry kids. It’s just a museum trying to distance itself from a disastrous launch with the National Enquirer branding.

Throw in the conceptually out-of-place Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show, and the bizarre concept of the Buttonwillow Civil War Theater and you have legitimately one of the strangest confluences of attractions this side of Vegas. 

And that doesn’t include the upside-down building. 

Read Also: WonderWorks vs. Beyond the Lens: Which attraction is better?

Inversion Tunnel at Wonderworks
An inversion tunnel at the beginning of the museum turns everything right-side-up again (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

An upside down building? 

I said what I said. 

The upside-down building is actually a tourist attraction and children’s museum by the name of WonderWorks. It’s one of the more popular attractions in Pigeon Forge for families where your imagination can run wild.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of WonderWorks – a franchise of kid-friendly museums scattered across tourist locations like here in Pigeon Forge, Orlando, Panama City and Syracuse, New York – the sight of an upside-down building that looks like the courthouse from “Back to the Future” can be arresting.

But the interior of the building – which is right side up – is pretty standard science museum fare. Billed as an indoor amusement park, it is entertaining, fun and begrudgingly educational.  

For those of you unfamiliar with the WonderWorks concept, let’s tackle a few frequently asked questions. 

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Why is the house upside down?

You couldn’t start with an easy question?

The best answer is “Man, I don’t know.”

My best guess is somebody in WonderWorks corporate, possibly the founders, had a good imagination and a healthy budget.

“If we put the building upside down, that’ll really grab their attention.”

“What if we just had a regular façade and filled the building with quality exhibits like every other museum in the world?” 

“What? No. It’s gotta be upside down. It’s genius.”

The WonderWorks website says that the museum began as a top-secret laboratory on a remote island in the Bermuda Triangle.

Professor Wonder, the museum’s mascot, was doing an experiment when something went awry, and the power of a tornado was unleashed inside the laboratory.

The website continues:

This created a swirling vortex that was strong enough to rip the laboratory from its foundation. It was carried thousands of miles away and landed upside-down … the rest, as they say, is history.

Yeah. History that happened six times and landed in tourist-friendly locations.

You also walk through some kind of “inversion” tunnel at the entrance to explain why everything on the inside isn’t also upside down. There’s not enough room in my head for how much I roll my eyes every time I walk through that thing. 

Ropes course at Wonderworks
The educational museum is very interactive and features activities like this dark ropes course (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

What’s inside the upside down house?

As you walk in, there’s an illusion of the ceiling being on the floor. But after you pass through the inversion tunnel, there’s a series of interactive and educational exhibits. They’re called Wonder Zones.

Each Wonder Zone has a theme like weather, space, art and more. They play a little fast and loose with some of the themes. The Physical Challenge Zone is basically sports stuff. The Light and Sound Zone has a lot to do with television and video games.

Of course, those two were among my kids’ favorites, so take that for what it’s worth. The Physical Challenge Zone has interesting challenges like a bed of nails and a Bubble Lab.

There’s also a dark ropes course, a Space Discovery Zone and an Extreme Weather Zone.

The Weather Zone has an Earthquake Cafe and a Hurricane Shack, where guests can feel the power of hurricane-force winds that reach more than 155 mph.

Wonderworks Lobby
The lobby on the inside is also “upside down” (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

What is there to do besides look at the exhibits?

In addition to the interactive exhibits, there’s also a 4D simulator ride, an indoor ropes course and laser tag arena.

And Extreme Bikes 360, which is like a motorcycle gyroscope thing and the Wonder Coaster, a virtual roller coaster that pitches and inverts to simulate a series of dream coasters.

They once offered a magic show, but Terry Evanswood now performs at the Grand Majestic Theater.

Astronaut training challenge
An astronaut training challenge at Wonderworks (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

How much is the upside down house in Pigeon Forge?

Can I tell them my money fell out of my pocket in the inversion tunnel? No. Trust me. They’ve heard that one and they are NOT amused.

At the time of this writing, tickets for this adventure for adults are $32.99 and children (ages 4-12) are $24.99 as are seniors 60 and over. You can also buy tickets (usually at discount) on Tripster.

Children under four are free. 

The Wonderworks attraction is located at 100 Music Road in Pigeon Forge, TN.

Have you been to Wonderworks Pigeon Forge in the Smoky Mountains? Let us know in the comments.

Disclaimer: While we do our best to bring you the most up-to-date information, attractions or prices mentioned in this article may vary by season and are subject to change. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any mentioned business, and have not been reviewed or endorsed these entities. Contact us at [email protected] for questions or comments.

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