Return to Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg

 When I was trying to figure out where to go for the four days of Fall break I considered everywhere!

I researched a trip to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios in Orlando, I considered a cabin in the woods and even considered a quick trip to the Caribbean. In the end I chose to return to Pigeon Forge.

During my last visit to Dollywood I purchased a Season Pass and I figured that I could go back to see the Great Pumpkin LumiNights with out much additional expense. So, with that in mind I planned my trip.

I hired a car from Enterprise to transport me to my freedom for the weekend and drove through the scenic countryside from Boone, North Carolina to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Driving through Sevierville I stopped for pictures with Dolly’s statue located at the courthouse. Beni and Yosef were happy to pose for me. Arriving late in Pigeon Forge I checked into the GuestHouse Pigeon Forge. My room was average and the overkill of brown made it feel like a cave, not helped by the hill directly outside my window blocking any sun that might try come in. Overall the room was damp, a little mouldy, loud (due to the interconnecting door) and the ill-fitting cream sheets required remaking by me every time I sat on the bed. I am learning that I can no longer just stay anywhere, my standards have increased and so too will my budget.

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Heading back to Dollywood on a Thursday allowed a relaxed walk around the Great Pumpkin LumiNights without the crowds. Beni was along for the ride and as others posed their children with the pumpkins, I posed Beni! The results are hilarious and you can see all of Beni’s pictures in the post of Beni’s Halloween Adventure. The following slideshow features daytime photos of the Great Pumpkin LumiNights:

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Waiting until dark rewards you with all of the pumpkins lighting up the night. Two sections of the park are specifically for the trail and sans crowds you can get up close and take your time. The following slideshow features night time photos of the Great Pumpkin LumiNights:

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Food!

Being a tourist town I was interested in dining at the famous Old Mill, though when I went to check in at 5.30pm I was informed there would be a 2 hour wait!! I don’t know about you but I don’t wait that long for anything. So, near my hotel is a buffet restaurant called the Golden Corral and for dinner they were featuring a beef banquet. For just over $25 usd I ate as much as I could, enjoyed unlimited refills on my Dr Pepper and was out in the time I would’ve waited for a table at the Old Mill.

I did try two new foods – Fired Green Tomatoes and Funnel Cake.

The only information I knew about Fried Green Tomatoes was the movie with the same title. When I spotted them for sale at Dollywood I had to try them. Honestly, I did not like them but I ate a several of them as I don’t like wasting money. I am a firm believer of trying everything once and now I know I don’t need to try them again.

The Funnel Cake on the other hand was delicious, though way too much for me to eat alone. It was made by pouring batter into a deep fryer and cooking, turning over once. After it browns it is removed and covered in icing sugar. You can choose additional toppings such as strawberries and/or chocolate sauce, I opted for original. Everything is bigger in America and Funnel Cake was no exception so it was surprise when I could not eat it all.

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Between days at Dollywood I opted for a day out in Gatlinburg. This time around I travelled on the Ober Aerial Tramway up a mountain and spend the day outside. It was a lovely ride up and with an Oktoberfest celebration at the top, it was a popular attraction. Once at the top there were many options for activities. My favourites of the day were the chairlift to a scenic lookout where a bluegrass band was playing, a mountain coaster and the alpine slide. Sometimes you just need a day in the sun to top up your vitamin d levels.

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The next day it was back to Dollywood but this time just to ride the roller coasters! My favourite still is the Wild Eagle, riding it 4 times in a row again. The Lightning Rod was closed during my previous visit but was open this time so away I went. It is the fastest wooden roller coaster in world and designed to resemble a 1950’s Hot Rod. I would have gone a second time but with a wait time of 60 minutes I opted out.

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This visit to Dollywood it was possible to go inside her tour bus, last time it didn’t open. Retired here after her long time driver passed away, Dolly now has a modern tour bus. The following slideshow features the inside of Dolly’s original tour bus:

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My final afternoon in Pigeon Forge deserved a trip to The Island, mainly to visit the Ole Smoky Moonshine store. If you visit and purchase items from all three locations in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge you receive a free t-shirt. As I had already ticked two of my list, I wanted the free t-shirt so I had to visit the third. My third purchase was a discounted tank top and then I got my freebie. I do love a freebie! The Island itself reminds me of cruise ship ports that are designed strictly for tourists to spend money. It must be working because there was plenty of people there. Not wanting to spend any more money it was time to return to my cave and pack to return to uni ready for class the following day.

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With Fall break over it is time to plan where to go during our Thanksgiving break!

Author: Melanie Birch-Inwood

The question is not 'where have I been' but 'where haven't I been'. I can guarantee if I haven't been, it's on the list! I am an Aussie who loves to travel and I have currently been to 64 countries over 6 continents with no plans on slowing down anytime soon. Currently I am living and studying in America at Appalachian State University for the Fall semester. Join me as I share my experiences, tips and reviews of all things travel and foreign.

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