Tuesday in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg visiting the Titanic the Space Needle and Dollys Dixie Stampede
We got up bright and early ready to take on the world with just a slight sugar, salt and religion hangover from the night before at Biblical Times dinner theater. This was our big day to explore the various whatnot from Gatlinburg to Pigeon Forge.
We started with breakfast at Log Cabin Pancake House, the only place that we could tell was not a chain, and came highly recommended from a co-worker of Jeremy's who had visited Pigeon Forge in the past. I just wanted something that was not pancakes or eggs, and maybe a breakfast salad, not too much to ask right? Just kidding, I knew that my choices would be omelet or pancakes.
Luckily, they also had biscuits and gravy and biscuits and chicken. I asked if the biscuits and chicken was just simply biscuits and chicken, and our server Barbara, looked at me like I was from the moon. "Of course dear, it is just biscuits and chicken, would you like gravy with that?" I asked, "Can I get gravy on the side?" She smiled as if she was thinking "bless her heart" and responded, "yes, of course dear." I then ordered a side of bananas, because stewed prunes just seemed like too much for a side of fiber.
After breakfast we picked up tickets for an evening show of Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede Dinner Theater and made our way to the Titanic museum. The Titanic museum is actually shaped like the Titanic and sticks out in the landscape of cheese as a giant ship in a parking lot.
The Titanic museum is quite random. There is one in Pigeon Forge and one in Branson, Missouri. They are both owned by the guy that funded the 1987 Alvin mission to see the Titanic on the ocean floor. It contains actual artifacts from the Titanic and very detailed history of the building of the ship and the people who were on it (both those who died, and those who survived). The guides for the tour ask that everyone turn their phones off because cell phones set off the alarm system. They also then proceed to give a detailed reason why no one can take pictures inside the museum based on a misinterpretation of copyright law. Why not just say - "No photography in the museum."
Because they made such a big deal about it I snuck these photos of the grand staircase replica at the end of the tour. I figured at this point, if I got kicked out, or set off an alarm, I am done with the tour anyway. No alarms went off, and I exited through the gift shop after listening to a tour guide talk about the cost of building this replica to be around 1 million dollars. The museum was also very obsessed with the value of things. Every artifact from the titanic deck chair, to the piece of oak from the grand staircase, to the master key (found on the body of a floating dead porter) was labeled with a monetary value. Its a museum of the most famous ship wreck of all time, of course things are priceless or highly valued at auctions, why label them as such? It just seemed like an odd way to brag about wealth and the arbitrary value of objects.
After our Titanic adventure we got in the car and headed for Gatlinburg to see what the "other" Space Needle had to offer. I say "other" Space Needle, because Seattle has a Space Needle and its curious to me that Gatlinburg has been able to keep the name.
When I googled Gatlinburg Space Needle to get the specific address a number of news articles came up talking about a death from the top of the space needle the day before. Monday, 5:30pm-ish a man allegedly jumped off the top of the tower and landed on the sidewalk below scaring families and tourists walking past. Creepy. When we arrived Tuesday afternoon the police were still investigating the cause of the man's fall, and the townspeople were still wondering if the needle was going to open again. We appeared to be the only souls willing to go up the elevator. As we bought our tickets and were about to board. A man from across the street yelled/asked "Is the elevator running?' The man who sold us our tickets countered. "Of course it is!" We went up, slowly, to the sound of old elevator squeak and the dirt of 35 years caked on the windows.
When we made it to the top we found a wide open viewing deck with nothing but a waist high railing and no other safety guard rails of any kind to keep you on the deck. It was pretty scary to go near the edge. According to the history of Gatlinburg that was on the wall the Space Needle was built in 1970 and has been a family run business ever since. We also learned that Gatlinburg was named after the brother of the man who invented the Gatlin gun. Brother of Gatlin gun inventor was postmaster of the town, but left only about five years later. The town kept the name.
This emergency phone was one of my favorite parts. Notice the subtle words "don't panic" written on it.
Clearly a trustworthy piece of technology in case of emergency.
There were also these very new technology carnival mirrors next to roped off elevators.
The view was beautiful, and it was really nice to be there without another living soul.
We left the sad space needle and its even sadder arcade to wander the streets and sights of Gatlinburg. It appears to be a tiny little town converted into a year round circus of sorts.
We made our way to Sugarland Winery, another stop on the Tennessee Wine Trail. This winery, unlike its fellows, actually has pretty decent wine, with the exception of the one that tastes like straight-up cough syrup. It holds the classy name of Cherry-Kee, so unless you like drinking Nyquil please avoid. Sugarland Winery also had a nice place to sit and enjoy a glass of the wine with a cheese plate. So we took a moment of rest for glass and a snack.
After enjoying our wine and moment of solitude away from the tourist fray we wandered back down the other side of the street where I found moonshine tasting and Jeremy found deep fried oreos.
Having enjoyed all of the offerings of carnival-esq downtown Gatlinburg it was time to drive home and prep for our evening of dinner theater with Dolly's Dixie Stampede.
We stopped for some nature photos on the way.
Dolly's Dixie Stampede starts out with a dinner pre-show where you can get a fancy juice drink in a commemorative boot mug to sip on while you listen to really good bluegrass music.
Dolly watches over everything.
You are then herded into a giant collosseum structure to your assigned seat. Your menu is printed on a napkin.
There is no silverware.
The show begins with full-on horses and carriages and lights and pyrotechnics. Meanwhile a fleet of servers start bringing out your courses of food.
This is a woman jumping through a firey hoop with her horse.
This is an entire baked chicken all for me!
These are trained buffalo.
This is all the food I wasted.
After the chicken and pig racing it all comes to a patriotic crescendo.
It was the best meal and the best entertainment we experienced in Pigeon Forge so far, not like we had a high bar to scale. But even without the Biblical Times experience the day before it is obvious that Dolly definitely does not hold out and has her name on a very good show with talented performers and provides quality banquet food for the masses. We went home tired and very full to get ready for Dollywood the next day.