New Christmas show debuts at Dolly’s newest attraction in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
By Hope S. Philbrick
Don’t fret about which seat you get at the new Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Adventures Dinner & Show theatre in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee: A smaller and more intimate space than Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Dinner Attraction, there’s not a bad seat in the house.
There are some similarities between the two venues, most obviously the fact that admission includes dinner and a show. But differences big and small abound. “Is the menu the same?” I asked a friendly staff member after taking my seat that, like all others, offered a clear view of the stage. “Not exactly,” she said. “For starters, there’s silverware.” Yes, forks and knifes are provided here, though you may still opt to dig into the fried chicken with bare hands (anticipating this inevitability, warm moist towels are offered at the end of the meal).
The popular soup and turnover dessert are familiar, but the menu features fried chicken, ham, sweet potato casserole, “old fashioned Southern dressing,” corn on the cob, and a warm biscuit. Recipes are inspired by some of Dolly’s favorite holiday tastes. Unlimited Pepsi (diet or regular), ice water, tea and coffee are also included. Service quality and efficiency impress, and servers use a ticket-folding trick so they can keep track of your drink order.
You can just sit back and enjoy this show—though you may often find yourself leaning forward in surprise, laughing heartily at unexpected double entendres, even gritting your teeth while witnessing some derring-do. Audience participation is limited, no “team red” and “team green” gimmick: The aim is to entertain, amaze and inspire. Expect high energy, flashing lights, festive tunes, and oodles of physical feats performed by talented humans who are far more bendable than seems feasible. The action takes place on the ground, in the air, on ice, and on mechanical devices that drop down from the ceiling or pop up from the floor on cue. There are Chinese poles, aerial silks hanging down from three stories above the stage, an Electro-wheel (used in a skit perhaps best described as a hyper elf in a huge hamster wheel), a skating rink, spectacular lights and more.
So many different performances and daredevil actions take place simultaneously that it’s hard to know where to look. “I was so busy looking at the ice skaters that it seems like that gymnast just risked his life doing high jumps when nobody was looking,” I whispered into my friend’s ear at one point. Eventually, there are chances to focus on each performer: Miss one gymnast’s leap into the rafters and/or back flip, and he or she might later break into song. Some people have so many talents!
Shows here are family friendly during the holiday season and year-round. Glance around the theatre, however, and odds are that you’ll spot more adults than youngsters. While children surely enjoy the performances and special effects, grownups will appreciate all that plus several jokes and lines of dialogue that are so very adult they seem daring given the overall nature of the show.
Alcoholic drinks are available for purchase here, unlike at Dixie Stampede, so there seems to be a conscious effort to position this theatre as adult-friendly. Huzzah! For a local twist, many of the cocktails such as the frosty strawberry daiquiri-inspired concoction feature Tennessee moonshine.
The tale on stage through December 31 is inspired by Dolly Parton’s own special Christmas memories mixed with a fictional tale about a small town threatened by a major snowstorm that leaves the fate of seasonal celebrations in question. (Spoiler Alert: Christmas is saved. Your whoops and applause help.) In addition to upbeat music and acrobatic feats that elicit gasps, the show includes an exclusive bluegrass version of “The Nutcracker,” a twist on the classic “12 Days of Christmas,” a nativity scene with live animals, and a rendition of the classic “Go Tell It On The Mountain.” The eye-popping entertainment features $2 million in special effects.
“Thanks to the powerful story of when Dolly’s parents met and fell in love, Smoky Mountain Adventures has experienced an amazing debut season,” said Jamie Parish, general manager of Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Adventures, in a press release. “We are excited about sharing more of this special story in our new holiday show, inspired by heartfelt moments that will capture the simple joys of Christmas. Our entire cast is looking forward to sharing this new component of Dolly’s family story—we know it will become a new holiday tradition.”
- For the complete show schedule, visit www.smokymountainadventures.com or contact the box office at 844-322-4400.
- The Christmas show runs through December 31, 2017.
- Much of the Christmas show is secular, but there is a nativity scene plus several religious songs.
- Ticket price includes admission plus a feast.
- Arrive early to enjoy playing checkers, corn hole, and other games plus shop in Bass Mercantile before taking your seat.
- As you enter the building, you and your travel companions will be asked to pose for a photo in front of a green screen. Later, you can purchase prints of that image set against several different fun backdrops. The purchase price includes digital access to the images for easy sharing and reprinting.
- Alcoholic beverages are available for purchase. The bar menu includes cocktails, wine and beer.
- Facilities are fully accessible for individuals with special needs.
- Odds of Encountering Children: Generally high, but varies. During my recent Friday evening visit the audience was comprised primarily of adults.
Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Adventures Dinner & Show
Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
In addition to its home in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Dinner Attraction operates in Branson, Missouri. Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show, another Dolly Parton entertainment destination, operates in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
– Photos courtesy Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Adventures Dinner & Show
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