Pigeon Forge Winterfest in Tennessee to open with veteran dedication of 5 million lights

Not sure where to spend the winter this year? Head over to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, for their 22nd annual Pigeon Forge Winterfest. The four month long event will go from November 8, 2011 until February 26, 2012. This year, with the opening day of the festival being near Veteran’s Day, the event will open with a special parade dedicated to veterans as well as a ceremony in Patriot Park that will feature 5 million Winterfest lights.

The origin of Pigeon Forge Winterfest comes from the goal of the town to create activity and tourism in the area during their off-season. Luckily, the festival helps to bring many people to the area during this time and having an off-season is not a problem for Pigeon Forge any longer.

Some of the highlights that event attendees can expect include:

Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas
November 5-Decemeber 30

Not only will this event feature 4 million twinkling lights, it will also be the opening day for “Christmas on Ice” held in Dolly Parton’s Celebrity Theatre. The show will feature the Ice Theater of New York, the country’s leading ice dancing group, as well as singers who will sing Christmas song favorites.

The Titanic Museum Attraction
November 8-December 31

This event marks the actual ship’s centennial throughout 2012. There will be real snow every Friday and Saturday from November 25 to December 12. Attendees can also enjoy an ice carving competition, taking place on January 14, where people will be able to see the artists working with small hand tools as well as chainsaws.

Wilderness Wildlife Week
January 7-January 14

This week is sponsored by the city and includes educational programs about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and other topics pertaining to the outdoors. All activities are free, and include events such as guided hikes, classes, seminars and workshops. Learn about park wildlife, enhance your nature photography skills, or gain knowledge on the sport of fly fishing.

Saddle Up!
February 23-February 26

Also sponsored by the city, this portion of Winterfest is a tribute to the American West. Attendees can expect cowboy poetry, Western music, and an authentic chuckwagon cook-off. Don’t miss this, as Saddle Up! attracts some of Western music’s biggest performers, such as Kent Rollins, Ray Doyle, Saddle Cats, Chuck Pyle, and more.

Dollywood wins major theme park award

Dolly Parton visited Orlando, Florida, yesterday to accept the Applause Award on behalf of her theme park, Dollywood.

“I love my music, but when you get a chance to do things like this, where you serve so many people in a different way, it makes me proud of something that so many people can enjoy,” Parton said during the ceremony on the opening day of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Expo.

The Applause Award is bestowed every other year on one park deemed to exhibit overall excellence.

was recognized for its originality, cleanliness, friendliness of the staff and family values.

“Of course, Walt Disney became successful because he had Mickey Mouse, who has two big ears. So, I figured I could be successful with Dollywood with my two big partners,” Parton said. She then glanced down at her famously large chest before pointing at Pete and Jack Herschend in the audience.

Parton partnered with their company, Herschend Family Entertainment, to open Dollywood in 1986 on the site of the former Silver Dollar City theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Theme park news roundup: New thrills on the way in 2011

Summer season is winding down, and that means it’s the time of year when theme parks start announcing their new attractions for the 2011 season. Here’s a look at the latest news and rumors about new attractions at U.S. theme parks:

Dollywood to open the Barnstormer

Dolly Parton’s theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, will add a $5.5 million ride called the Barnstormer. It’s designed to simulate stunt flying with the use of two pendulum arms. The ride will rise 81 feet in the air. Dollywood is also building a new barnyard-themed children’s play area around the Barnstormer.

The new ride will have a height requirement of 48 inches. It’s expected to open in March 2011.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay launches teaser Web site

Construction of a new attraction has been going on for months at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, but the park has made no official announcements as to what the new ride will be. It is widely believed that the new attraction will be a roller coaster. Park officials have only said that there will be thrils and animal encounters.The Tampa, Florida, theme park has launched a teaser web site, BuschGardens2011.com, with videos of park officials talking about their big secret. The latest video is with design and engineering VP Mark Rose, who does reveal that the 2011 project will have the largest footprint of any attraction at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

Cedar Point releases new ride clues on Facebook

Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, is giving fans of its Facebook page clues about a new 2011 attraction. So far, pictures of a windmill and a dinosaur have been posted.

The windmill picture links instructions for a class project on windy weather, and the dino image links to a site on dinosaurs for kids.

The theme park is promising that all will be revealed next week, on Aug. 24.

Hersheypark looking ahead to 2012

Often the first place that news about new theme park attractions emerges is through city and county construction permits that have to be obtained, and hearings that have to be held, when theme parks plan to build anything.

That’s exactly what happened this week in Derry Township, Pennsylvania, where Hersheypark theme park is building a new attraction for 2012.

At a municipal zoning meeting, Hersheypark officials revealed that new “marquee” attraction will be built in the park’s Comet Hollow area, and it will open in 2012. No word on what it will be, but the theme park is seeking permission for the new ride to have a maximum height of more than 212 feet.

Shades of the Past Classic Car Show and a Crumpled Side-Door

Yesterday at the auto body shop where I took my car after an intersection mishap, I swapped some car talk with an insurance adjuster and the head of the body shop. The adjuster was fairly bouncing on his toes with excitement when he talked about his upcoming trip to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee for the Shades of the Past 2007 Rod Run. He’s probably heading there now since it’s happening September 7-8.

I frankly don’t know much more than squat about cars, but as I was listening to my new car shop buds talk about this event, I got thinking that I ought to hop in my car and head there myself. Problem is, I can’t really get in my crumpled driver’s side door and climbing over the console from the passenger side has its limits.

From what they said, this is the classic car event to go to–3,000 will be on display, none older than 1972. The car that caught my eye is the replica of the 5W Deuce Coupe that actor Paul LeMat, “aka,” John Milner drove in the movie American Graffiti. (This is the car in the photo) LeMat and Cindy Williams, who played Laurie Henderson, the girl who headed off with Milner to make her boyfriend, Steve (played by Ron Howard) jealous until the car crashed, will be signing autographs over the weekend. The car adjuster was also enamored with the thought of winning a classic car. The two to be given away are a ’32 Ford High-Boy Roadster and a ’68 Chevy Malibu Big Block, 4-speed, Black Red. I’m not exactly sure what they are, but I bet they’re sweet.

If you’re looking for a classic car event or any car event closer to you, the Web site HotRodder.com is filled with links.

New Roller Coaster in Dollywood: “Mystery Mine”

The Mystery Mine at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is a ride I’m just going to have to go on one of these days. Not only is it a roller coaster, it has some sort of light show as a feature. The theme of this 2 ½ minute ride is an abandoned mine that takes you on a journey of a vertical climb followed by 55 mph of straight down tracks-think 95 degrees. Then there’s a feature called the “heart-line roll” and another called a “roll-over loop.”

This is the first such roller coaster in the United States. According to the description of it, this is a Gerstlauer’s Euro-fighter ride which adds a twist to the interactive experience. If you spend some time on the Mystery Mine Web site, you can watch a series of videos of a man telling a story of the mine to two children in the tradition of a campfire ghost story. There’s also a cool mine animation video complete with mood music, screaming, and roller coaster wheels clickety-clackiting against the track noises.

In pure ghost story spirit, the ride opened on Friday, April 13 (Friday the 13th). The first 56 people who road the rollercoaster paid $625 each for the experience as a way to raise money for charity.