On Location: Pigeon Forge (Summer Edition)

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In a blink, school will be out for the summer, and the plans you make now will be the memories you have when it’s August and time for the back-to-school schedule. Our Winter Edition of On Location: Pigeon Forge set the stage for holiday fun. Now, let’s get ready for a hot time in the mountains, where there is something for all ages. Here’s what’s new and notable for 2024.


  • Dollywood’s Flower & Food Festival presented by Covenant Health continues through June 9. It’s the fifth season for this event, which includes elaborate floral displays and food – lots of food. Returning this year: the tasting pass, available in the park or online, is $39.99 plus tax or $36.99 plus tax for gold and diamond passholders. The pass lets guests sample five food offerings at Flower & Food Festival culinary locations. (For families with food allergies or special diets, ask for nutrition information at Dollywood restaurants or check menus online before you go. An allergen book with ingredient lists is available at each location.)

  • The Dolly Parton Experience opens May 24. This interactive experience includes exhibits that span Parton’s career, as well as “Behind the Seams,” a curated exhibit highlighting that instantly recognizable Dolly Parton style.

  • Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration returns June 15 – Aug. 11, including a drone and fireworks show above the park.

  • Splash Country waterpark reopens for the summer on May 11. dollywood.com/waterpark

  • For details, visit dollywood.com.

Dollywood Flower and Food Festival
Dollywood Flower and Food Festival

Soaky Mountain Waterpark in nearby Sevierville opens for its fourth season May 11 and 12 and will open daily beginning May 17. It will be open through Labor Day and then weekends in September (weather permitting). soakymountainwaterpark.com

Smoky Mountains Pink Jeep Tours offers a variety of tours away from the spotlight of Pigeon Forge. Families who have visited Sedona, Arizona might be familiar with this brand and its bright pink Jeeps that take visitors off the beaten path, literally. pinkadventuretours.com/tours/smoky-mountain-tours

Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster: You are in control (sort of) with this ride down the mountain, adjusting speed with the push and pull of handles. (Note height requirements for kids to ride with a grownup or alone.) smokymountainalpinecoaster.com

Titanic Frozen Custard & Chocolate Attraction: Located right outside the Titanic Museum Attraction, this brand new spot offers ways to beat the summer heat. titanicfrozencustard.com

Lost Mine Mountain Coaster: New for 2024, this attraction includes an alpine coaster (ages 3 and older – note height requirements and other details online) and mini golf. lostmine.com

Dollywood Flower and Food Festival
Dollywood Flower and Food Festival

Quick hits:

There is lodging for every style, need and budget in Pigeon Forge. Here are a few to get you started.

  • Dollywood’s HeartSong Lodge & Resort (dollywood.com/heartsong) opened in late 2023, offering families a refined cabin atmosphere that reflects Parton’s love of the Smoky Mountains. Stone, iron and earth come together in a welcome retreat that offers amenities like complimentary trolley service to Dollywood Parks, peaceful mountain views, a natural playground area (complete with daily Imagination Library story times), games and activities for the whole family at Camp DW and more.

  • Dollywood's DreamMore Resort and Spa is an elegant spot that is still very welcoming to families – some rooms include twin bunk beds in addition to a king-sized bed. The resort also offers the value-added benefit of trolley service to and from Dollywood. If the vacation budget is highly flexible, you can even book a stay on Dolly Parton’s former tour bus, now known as Dolly Suite 1986, with proceeds benefiting The Dollywood Foundation. Visit dollywood.com/resort.

  • Jimmy Buffett fans can pay homage to the late sailor songwriter at Margaritaville properties throughout the area, including Camp Margaritaville RV Resort and Lodge. The lodge offers oversized rooms, including some with a separate tent area for kids, as well as daily activities for all ages like ukelele lessons, crafts, movies, and bonfires with marshmallows. Visit margaritavilleresorts.com/camp-margaritaville-rv-resort-lodge-pigeon-forge.

  • Need a little Christmas in July? Try The Inn at Christmas Place. Yes, it’s decorated all year, and a stay includes visits with Santa, activities, nightly cookies and more. Visit innatchristmasplace.com.

  • For a quieter spot right in the middle of everything, The Inn on the River might be what you’re looking for. Recently renovated, this hotel is a 2023 Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice award winner. It offers fresh cookies on arrival, popcorn each evening, and breakfast included. A walk along the Pigeon River just outside is a great way for (supervised – it’s a river, after all) kids to burn off a little excess energy as they ooh and ahh over geese and ducks. myinnontheriver.com

Dollywood Flower and Food Festival
Dollywood Flower and Food Festival

Park and ride! Pigeon Forge Mass Transit trolleys feature more than 200 stops and even select locations in nearby Gatlinburg and Sevierville. Get route information, costs and an app at mypigeonforge.com/planning/mass-transit-trolley.

This article originally appeared on Greenville News: On Location: Pigeon Forge (Summer Edition)