Posts Tagged ‘vacations’

Dollywood Named Top 3 Theme Park in USA TODAY National Survey

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (August 2014) – Dollywood landed firmly near the top of USA TODAY’s 10Best Readers’ Choice contest for Best Theme Park. Underscoring the park’s commitment to providing a memorable and enjoyable experience for guests, the third place showing proves once again what visitors have said for years—Dollywood is a special place.

Wild Eagle at Dollywood

Wild Eagle at Dollywood

USA TODAY’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Award contest launches one new category each Monday at noon with 20 nominees. Nominations are made by an expert panel, and after four weeks of public voting, the results are released.

“We already know Dollywood provides families the perfect atmosphere to create memories to last for a lifetime,” said Craig Ross, president of the Dollywood Company. “We’re excited to see so many people agree. Placing third in USA TODAY’s 10Best Readers’ Choice award certainly shows we’re doing something right. In our park, we have award-winning rides, world-class entertainment, unique food choices and talented craftsmen. Combine all of that with our friendly and attentive employees, and it’s fulfilling that our guests are eager to vote for us.”

Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California, placed first, while Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey, is second. Other parks in the top ten included Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, (fourth); Hersheypark in Hershey, Pennsylvania, (fifth); Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, (eighth); and Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California, (tenth). The full list can be seen at

“USA TODAY is thrilled to have this method of sharing what 10Best and USA TODAY readers and users love most,” said John Peters, president of USA Today Travel Media Group. “Our readers are well-informed, well-traveled and opinionated. At the end of the day, content on our platforms is a reflection of them. A destination, organization or business which finds itself the recipient of a 10Best Readers’ Choice Award has really accomplished something.”

Nominees for all categories are chosen by a panel of relevant experts which include a combination of editors from USA TODAY, editors from and relevant expert contributors. The nomination panel for each award category is displayed on its associated contest page. All voting is digital, and the 10Best Readers’ Choice Award contest is accessible on the website. The public may vote for one nominee per category, per day.

About the Dollywood Company: A highly awarded and widely recognized leader in the amusement industry, the Dollywood Company consists of the 150-acre Dollywood theme park; the 35-acre Dollywood’s Splash Country and Dollywood Cabins. As unique as its namesake and owner Dolly Parton, Dollywood is the 2010 Applause Award winner, the theme park industry’s highest accolade; the reigning five-time Golden Ticket Award winner; and recipient of 21 Brass Ring Awards for Live Entertainment (more than any other theme park in the world). Open nine months a year (late March through early January), Dollywood offers rides and attractions, shows, and a dozen crafters authentic to the East Tennessee region. Dollywood’s Splash Country, recognized by the Travel Channel as one of the country’s most beautiful waterparks and named 2009’s Must-See Waterpark by the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions, operates from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Dollywood Cabins offers luxurious cabin accommodations overlooking Dollywood. For more information, call 1-800-DOLLYWOOD or visit Operating days and hours vary.

For B-roll, photography and more information, visit the Dollywood Media Room at


The Dollywood Company
Pete Owens, 865-428-9486 or 865-755-7972

Public Relations Director


Wes Ramey, 865-428-9484 or 865-640-3805


108 Girls’ Softball Teams Fill Pigeon Forge for SEAA World Series Action

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (July 18, 2014) – Expect to see hundreds of hyper-competitive, fun-loving girls in Pigeon Forge for the next week.

 The reason is the 2014 World Series of the Sporting Events Association of America (SEAA) that has attracted 108 teams from 16 states. Teams are from the Southeast, the Mid-Atlantic and the Midwest, including some from as far away at Texas and Wisconsin.

All games are at Pigeon Forge’s Wear Farm City Park. The opening ceremony is Sunday (July 20) at Smokies Park in Kodak and will include a parade of teams.  Tournament play concludes July 27.

Tennessee Thunder from Marion County, Tenn.

Tennessee Thunder from Marion County, Tenn.

Mullins said that while competition is the first reason that teams participate, the area’s vacation appeal is a major contributor to the tournament’s success.“We have grown steadily from our first year, when we had 20 teams, to having 108 teams this year. It’s a major undertaking,” said Freddie Mullins, co-owner of SEAA with her husband, Jim.

“Most people make this a family vacation. The tournament has an organized event at Dixie Stampede, teams go to Dollywood on their own schedules and people scatter to enjoy all of the things do see and do here,” Mullins said.

Wear Farm City Park opened in March 2013, utilizing 40 acres for five lighted softball/baseball fields, a lighted football field, a playground, two shelters, a basketball court, two concession stand/restroom buildings and walking trails.

Teams in the SEAA tournaments are guaranteed four games.

“We set schedules so teams can enjoy the games and have time to enjoy Pigeon Forge and the Great Smoky Mountains, too,” Mullins said.

Pigeon Forge Executive Director of Tourism Leon Downey noted that sports tourism is a growing segment of the travel industry.

“Youth sports are big, and tournaments such as the SEAA World Series have a huge impact. Pigeon Forge’s family appeal and youth sports really go together well,” Downey said.




Freddie Mullins



For Pigeon Forge

Tom Adkinson





Smoky Mountain Opry Kicks Off Spectacular New Season

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (July 2014) – The Smoky Mountain Opry, the largest stage production in the Smokies, has a brand new production show with new acts and new songs for this season.

The show begins with an electrifying opening with a laser light show and then the entrance of several featured singer/dancers descending on the stage in illuminated boxes.

The show blends new performances from the theater’s entertainment team with lots of new special effects. Highlights include a new country section with hot country chart toppers, an entire Broadway segment with lots of new songs, a circus and magic section and brand new instrumental, patriotic and inspiration/gospel music.

Silk aerialists Leann Farley and Simmone Gruzdev

Silk aerialists Leann Farley and Simmone Gruzdev

There is also a live band, led by new bandleader, Johnny Hodges, a trumpet player and former musician on Carnival Cruise Lines. The newest addition to the Smoky Mountain Opry Show is soulful singer Curtis “CJ” Jefferson, former musical director, vocal couch and lead vocalist for the “Soul of Motown” at the Grand Majestic Theater in Pigeon Forge.

A recent addition to the show is Greg Stout, who has performed at several local venues including the Smith Family Dinner Theater and the Hazzard County Hoedown. Stout has gained a big local following with hundreds of members from his fan club returning to the show week after week to see him perform.

Returning to the show is a former member of the Russian National Theater Dance Group, a former Rockette, a Las Vegas silk aerialist, a famous juggler, a well-known magician and live exotic animals.

On the vocal side, returning for the show this season are powerhouses Lakieta Bagwell (who has sung with Dolly Parton and her brother Randy and sister Rachel, with Lee Greenwood, and at many venues including Dollywood, Southern Nights, the American Music theater and the Grand Ole Opry), and Kendal Manning from the Smith Theater and American Jukebox Show.

Also returning are master of ceremonies and powerful country crooner T.C. Barnette (formerly of Dollywood) and his country/gospel vocalist wife, Jessie (formerly of Dollywood and Smith Family Dinner Theater).

“This fabulous, high-energy show tugs on people’s heart strings,” said David Fee, president and chief executive officer of the Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Group.

“We have the most elaborate and largest cast of dancers and musicians in the Smokies,” Fee said. “It is two hours of non-stop wow, with lasers and many special effects.”

Manning performs a heartwarming rendition of ‘Memory’ from the Broadway production of “Cats.”  Bagwell performs an unforgettable, dynamic rendition of “My Heart Will Go On” from “Titanic” and a vibrant performance of “I Will Always Love You.”

Featured in the show is the juggling artistry and comedy of David Hirschi, better known by his stage name of “Slim Chance.”

Slim is a sophisticated, juggling hillbilly with an off-beat sense of humor.  He juggles a bowling ball, a rubber chicken, a Ping Pong ball, saw blades and many other items in his act, with lots of audience interaction. He previously performed in Las Vegas and in Branson, Mo.

There is also magic by famed magician Michael Keating, who worked with David Copperfield for six years. The magic section features Keating and Manning and a series of fast-paced illusions that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. The magic segment finishes with a woman who is transformed into a Bengal tiger.

In addition, the show features the high-flying silk aerialists Leann Farley and Simmone Gruzdev. Farley has been performing since the age of 15 in Las Vegas, as well as all over the globe. Gruzdev graduated from one of the most prestigious dance academies in Russia and was a member of the Russian National Theater Dance Group.

“Audiences have grown accustomed to seeing Leann and Simmone fly through the air, but now in addition to their aerial act, they have a new act in the show where their feet never leave the ground,” Fee said.  “After months of training, they have a new quick change act where you barely blink and Leeann has changed costumes!”

Multi-talented husband and wife Lucinda and Mario Morin are featured adage dancers in the show, and Mario does some comedy as “Maynard, the maintenance man” as well.

Lucinda previously worked in shows in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Lancaster, Pa., Savannah, Ga., Los Angeles, and San Antonio, Texas, in addition to working on many cruise ships. She is also a former member of the Rockettes precision dance company.

There are many live animals in the new Smoky Mountain Opry show, including a horse, a dog and two serval cats. A special guest performer is Tsimba-Vaati, a 500-pound, 8-year-old rare male white lion, one of only 300 in existence in the world today.

The show also features Hollywood, a 600-pound, 8-year-old white tiger, and Rajah, a 350-pound, 14-year-old gold Bengal tiger, whose name means “great king.”  They can be seen on stage during the show’s dazzling Tribute to Broadway “Circle of Life” scene and in the magic section of the show.

Featured songs in the show include “I Got a Feeling,” “Mountain Music,” “She’s Country,” “My Kind of Night,” “Shake It For Me,” “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” “Islands in the Stream,” “Ring of Fire,” “Rhinestone Cowboy,” “My Way” and many others.

“We are confident that this is going to be our best year yet, and we hope you will bring the whole family and join us for our outstanding new show with a whole range of different performers and incredible talent,” Fee said. “This show is a special show-of-a-lifetime. It has it all — from comedy to heart stopping aerialists, to graceful and skillful dancers and fabulous singers.

“Calling this show amazing is quite the understatement,” said Fee. “Your whole family will be spellbound with the incredible and prestigious artists who perform in our show. We have fantastic juggling, circus animals and magic, as well as great music. There is nowhere in Pigeon Forge that can you find a better entertainment value.”

The Smoky Mountain Opry opened in November 2011 and is a Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment production. It is located at 2046 Parkway in Pigeon Forge. Ticket are $39.95 plus tax for adults and $9.95 plus tax for children ages 3 to 11. For more information, visit or call 1-800-768-1170 or (865) 428-SHOW (7469).

The Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Group, one of the largest show production companies in the Southeast, also owns and produces four other major shows in the Smoky Mountain area, including  “The Comedy Barn®,” the “Comedy Critters Pet Show,” the “Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show” and the “Blackwoods Morning Variety Show” featuring the Blackwoods.

The Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Group is currently running a special combination show deal that offers customers a chance to buy a ticket to the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show for $49.95 plus tax, and then, for just $15 plus tax, they can purchase a ticket to the “Smoky Mountain Opry,” “The Comedy Barn®,” “The Comedy Critters Pet Show” or “The Blackwoods Morning Variety Show.” The company also owns Happy Days Diner and a website,,that helps guests plan their entire Smoky Mountain experience online.

(Group rates are available for groups of 20 or more, and with the purchase of a combination show ticket, children 11 and under are free for the second show.)


 Media contact:

Deborah Fee Newsom

Director of Public Relations and Merchandising

Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Group

119 Music Road,

Pigeon Forge, TN 37863

(865) 414-6887 (cell), (865) 774-8877

Cyrus Family Theater Opens in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

A must-see, family-friendly entertainment experience when visiting the Smoky Mountains

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (June 4, 2014) — We are proud to announce the opening of the Cyrus Family Theater, located at 140 Showplace Blvd., Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. We extend a warm welcome to everyone at “the home place.”

Starting this weekend, visitors can enjoy an intimate family-friendly 90-minute show of class country songs, original material and comedy at the Cyrus Family Theater hosted by Bobby Cyrus (first cousin of Billy Ray). Tickets are $30. Children under 12 are half price.

All guests are invited to a post-show impromptu guitar pull and complimentary grill out around the fire pit on the patio to enjoy swapping songs and stories. Admission also includes a digital download of Bobby’s entire “Homeplace” album.

The Cyrus name crosses genres spreading internationally. At the Cyrus Family Theater, guests will be treated to learn the Cyrus family heritage, which includes a museum-style display of historic Cyrus memories, going back as far as the early 1900s and possibly before.

“Bring you friends and family to spend time with our,” says Bobby Cyrus. “Granny Cyrus still saws a mean fiddle . . . you can even sit on her front porch, and she’ll play you a tune.!”

The event will continue each weekend year-round and include various special guests. For more information, visit



Bobby Cyrus


‘Saddle Up’ To Bring Old West to Smokies

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (January 2012) – Cowboy poetry, western music and chuck wagon cooking will be the order of the day when Saddle Up hits Pigeon Forge Feb. 23-26, 2012. The four-day event is a tribute to the American West and has activities for the entire family.

Saddle Up is part of Pigeon Forge Winterfest, a four-month season of activities that begins in November and continues through February.

Performers for the 2012 event include R.W. Hampton, Stephanie Davis, Cowboy Celtic, Saddle Cats, Andy Nelson, Ray Doyle, Chuck Pyle and Kent Rollins. Concerts at Tennessee Shindig Theater (3 and 7 p.m. on Feb. 24 and 6 p.m. on Feb. 25) are $15 each.

Two “Intimate Evening” dinner shows are scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 23. A four-course dinner at Partridge & Pear restaurant will be followed by a performance from R.W. Hampton, the newest member of the Western Music Association Hall of Fame. Tickets are $50.

Montana singer/songwriter Stephanie Davis, a newcomer to Saddle Up, will entertain at Mama’s Farmhouse Restaurant, following a family-style meal that includes steaks prepared by the Red River Ranch chuckwagon team from Texas. Tickets are $40.

“Stories & Strings,” Feb. 24 at 11 a.m., is a concert that features some of the elite musicians attending the event. Each will talk about musical influences, demonstrate personal styles and share favorite tunes. The $15 concert at Smoky Mountain Guitar Shop will include Dutch oven-baked cinnamon rolls and beverages beginning at 10 a.m.

A competitive chuck wagon cookoff, is slated for Saturday, Feb. 25. Sponsored by the Pigeon Forge Hospitality Association, chuck wagon cooks prepare lunch for guests and evaluation by a panel of judges. Lunch tickets are $10. Beginning at 9 a.m., prior to the cookoff at Clabough’s Campground, visitors can hear cowboy entertainers and participate in cowboy-related activities free of charge.

A Cowboy Dance (tickets are $5), with music by Stephanie Davis and the Roadrunners, is Saturday night at Spirit of the Smokies Condo Lodge Ballroom. Cowboy Church, a non-denominational service at Stages West, is Sunday morning at 10 a.m. It is preceded by a chuckwagon breakfast that begins at 8:30 a.m.. Breakfast tickets are $5; Cowboy Church is free.

Saddle Up tickets are available online at