What happened to the Water Boggan in Pigeon Forge?

The Water Boggan

The Water Boggan was open in the 70s and 80s in Pigeon Forge TN (photo shared with permission from OldGatlinburg.net)

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The history of Pigeon Forge is littered with the remnants of attractions that came and went. 

Some were simply lost to the ravaging real estate prices. Others ran their course. 

Some were clearly the work of the clinically insane who, rather than seek treatment, developed high dollar concept attractions like an entire Polynesian world, shipping in dolphins and actual Polynesians to profit off a Tiki craze that peaked a decade earlier. 

The quest to find a unique attraction that might draw tourists’ spending money or to jump into an established business model and compete with a dozen others drew a lot of low-rent P.T. Barnum types.

There was no science to it. No real market research. It was the 70s and 80s, and if you could talk some sucker into financing it, you could make that dream a reality. 

“We’re gonna fly in dolphins from Mississippi and dancers from Hawaii.”

“That’s gold! Here’s $1.7 million.”

Read Also: The attraction in Pigeon Forge you never knew existed: Porpoise Island 

Not every attraction had to be high concept. Sometimes all you needed was a hill, some water and enough affordable building material to create a slide and let gravity do its work.

Welcome to the Water Boggan in Pigeon Forge

Welcome, my friends, to Water Boggan in Pigeon Forge, a twin-flume giant water slide totaling more than 1,000 feet slippery concrete based on the alpine toboggan flumes of Switzerland, France, Italy, Slovenia or Liechtenstein.

The brochure was vague on the inspiration. Let’s just assume central Europe.

Mountain water slides? The idea is money, baby. You could have relatively low overhead, maybe a little high on the insurance, but this was the 80s. Insurance may have been a 50/50 proposition. 

A kid slides down the Water Boggan in Pigeon Forge
Two onlookers watch the action from the nearby picnic tables (photo shared with permission from OldGatlinburg.net)

So what happened to the Water Boggan? 

Well, I like to think it was an inconsistent capitalization in their marketing materials. Was it Water Boggan, water boggan or WaterBoggan? 

The world may never know. 

No, what likely took Water Boggan down was the fact that 70s and 80s business people thought concrete was a perfectly acceptable surface for nearly nude people to go a-sliding on. 

“Even with the water, it’s a little rough, Joey. The last kid looked like he scraped up his legs pretty good.”

“Ok. We’ll give them foam rubber mats. It will be fine. Put some Bactine on the boy and send him back up the hill. 

“Hey, you know what would be perfect? A few picnic tables with umbrellas right down front where the spectators can get a really good view.”

“That kid just went down on his belly, Joey. I think he lost a nipple.” 

Entry into the slides – which were obviously engineered by well-trained professionals and not a drunkard with an Etch A Sketch – did at least come with a super useful foam rubber mat.

But woe was coming for any slider who lost track of their mat in one of the seven “breath-taking turns” or the 360-degree loop (horizontal, not vertical). 

Losing the mat early meant the slider would be in for a long ride.

You’ve heard of death by a thousand paper cuts? You’d reach the bottom, bruised and battered, floating in a three-foot deep, climate controlled pool filled with water. 

Don’t worry about any blood though; that water was so chlorinated you were two steps away from bathing in bleach.

When did the Water Boggan close?

There’s not a lot of information left on Water Boggan. How it was born and how it died have not made it to the Internet. The exact year it closed is unclear.

There are a few old brochures, but even they are bare bones. It turns out there’s only so much you can say about a pair of concrete water slides.

After the two slides, the chief enticements the marketing geniuses could come up with were changing rooms, a bathhouse and free parking.

A Water Boggan brochure in Pigeon Forge TN
Images from the brochure advertise the two slides with changing rooms, a bath house and free parking (photo shared with permission from OldGatlinburg.net)

Where is the Water Boggan in Pigeon Forge today?

Billed as being just five minutes from Gatlinburg at the Pigeon Forge city limits, Water Boggan is long gone. In its place sets a series of rental cabins for camping. 

Though it isn’t immediately evident what caused water boggan’s demise, we can safely assume Ogle’s Water Park, with its fancy wave pool and smooth, fiberglass slides, cut significantly into Water Boggan’s market share. 

Read Also: A look back at Ogle’s Waterpark and the attraction that took its place

We would like to thank OldGatlinburg.net for permission to use these photos of the Water Boggan. For even more photos, be sure to visit them online.

Do you remember the Water Boggan? 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 info@thesmokies.com for questions or comments.


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14 thoughts on “What happened to the Water Boggan in Pigeon Forge?”

  1. I do remember Water Boggan…it was a blast! Just great memories for me, no scrapes, bruises or broken bones.

  2. I was on the water bogan more than once. Had a great time in spite of the it’s and scratches

  3. Yes!! The only problem was you couldn’t take your shoes down the slide. So you had to run back up on 100 degree concrete. I had blisters all over my feet. They are still really tender today.

  4. I once went to a business picnic at a perk with a concrete water slide. As a former EMT, I grabbed my bag from my car and spent several hours patching up kids with scrapes.

  5. I remember my brother and cousin riding this all day. There thought was if you didn’t come away with some bumps, cuts, or bruises it wasn’t a fun day. LOL

  6. I had sure a rich childhood going to pigeon forge in the seventies. The slide was one of my favorite rides ….of course I hit the bottom one time minus a top🙄

  7. Always stayed at Mountain Sky Motel and the slide behind it, loved my childhood!

  8. Orville Reagan owned the Water Boggin. Sometimes after it closed he would turn off the water and let us slide. That made it super fast!

  9. This was easily one of my families favorite pigeon Forge destinations in the 70s, along with, I think it was called… Magic Mountain? It had a big flying saucer

    I thought a waterslide dug into the side of a hill was genius—we had several hot days spent there and I don’t remember being all cut and scraped up at the end of the day.… Even if you did sometimes lose your foam mat

    Maybe somebody can help me remember the name of the place with the big flying saucer, was it Magic Mountain?

  10. I remember riding this water slide with my brother all day long. We were about 7 and 8 years old in the 70s. We had so much fun. We’ve never seen a water slide before. We ran up those concrete steps and went sliding down over and over for hours. Our little butts and legs were tore up. There was so much freedom and not having to use a mat or wait in lines. My brother recently died at the age of 54. This is one of the best memories I’ve had on my childhood with him.

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