Posts Tagged ‘Wonders of Flight’

Five Fall Foliage Vantage Points in Pigeon Forge

Drive-it-yourself alpine slide, 200-foot-tall observation wheel new to list

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (September 2013) – Autumn in East Tennessee gets people thinking about two things, football and fall foliage in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The tourist destination of Pigeon Forge offers five very elevated ways to view what Mother Nature paints in the mountains this season.

Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster

This drive-it-yourself thrill ride opened this summer in a wooded cove along Wears Valley Road just off Pigeon Forge’s bustling Parkway.


Smoky Mountains Alpine Coaster

Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster

One or two passengers buckle on to open-air sleds that are pulled 1,385 feet up a hillside and into the trees and then turned loose for a 3,940-foot-long zip back to the starting point. You control the brakes and set your own speed along the sweeps, turns and spirals of the elevated track.

It’s eerily quiet since you’re not near other sleds – unless you whoop with delight as you enjoy the mountain scenery on an experience more than a mile long.

Great Smoky Mountain Wheel

The Island in Pigeon Forge is an emerging attraction/retail/dining/lodging complex in the heart of town, and it’s impossible to miss because of its first attraction – the Great Smoky

Great Smoky Mountain Wheel

Great Smoky Mountain Wheel

Mountain Wheel.

It’s an observation wheel that reaches 200 feet above the Little Pigeon River and carries 42 glass gondolas on gentle, circular rides. Each climate-controlled gondola can carry eight passengers.

After viewing the mountains from this unusual perch, a variety of restaurants await you on the ground. A Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville Restaurant is to open this winter.

Wonders of Flight

Wonders of Flight is a French-made helium balloon of gigantic proportions. How big, you ask? The balloon is 72 feet in diameter, and the gondola underneath it carries 30 passengers.

Wonders of Flight

Wonders of Flight


The balloon rises 500 feet into the air on a steel cable. There are amazing views of Pigeon Forge, Mt. LeConte, other peaks in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and on a really clear day all the way to Cumberland Gap, where Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky meet – at least according to the balloon captain.

Wonders of Flight is part of WonderWorks, the wacky, upside-down science attraction at the north end of Pigeon Forge. Its operators call the balloon ideal for weddings, birthdays and general autumn sightseeing.

Wild Eagle at Dollywood

One of the quickest glimpses of Great Smoky Mountain fall color comes with a big dose of excitement – it’s the view you get at the peak of Dollywood’s Wild Eagle rollercoaster.

Wild Eagle at Dollywood

Wild Eagle at Dollywood

Wild Eagle, America’s first wing-design coaster, sits atop the highest ridge in Dollywood, so your elevation is substantial. After you crest the peak, however, fall color becomes an exciting blur.

Wild Eagle earned two major awards when it opened in 2012 – Best New Attraction, according to the National Amusement Park Historical Association, and Best New Theme Park Ride from Amusement Today magazine.

Great Ape Observation Deck

The Great Ape of Pigeon Forge clings to the side of the Hollywood Wax Museum and towers 102 feet above the Parkway.

Great Ape of Pigeon Forge

Great Ape of Pigeon Forge

The ape is at a rather high point in Pigeon Forge, and there’s an observation platform right beside his toothy maw. Access to the platform – and the opportunity for some very unusual photos – is provided with select attraction tickets.

Complete information about visiting Pigeon Forge is at or by calling 800-251-9100.



Tom Adkinson, APR




Look! Up in the Sky!

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (October 2012) – A gigantic blue and green helium balloon has people all over Pigeon Forge pointing to the sky and admiring the city’s newest attraction.

It is Wonders of Flight, an addition to the science- and fun-filled WonderWorks attraction on the Parkway.

The Wonders of Flight, a helium-filled balloon 72-feet in diameter, rises silently behind WonderWorks in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

The Wonders of Flight balloon is 72 feet in diameter, and the gondola it lifts can carry up to 30 people for spectacular views of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Pigeon Forge and the surrounding counties. It is tethered to a 400-foot-long cable.

The captain says that on an especially clear day, the famous Cumberland Gap is visible on the horizon. That’s where Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia come together.

Aerophile, the world leader in tethered gas balloons, is the manufacturer. Its only other similar balloon in the Southeast is at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. Other locations include China, France, Germany and Turkey.

“The ascents, by day or night, provide guests with an unmatched, 360-degree panoramic view of the Smoky Mountains,” said Jerome Giacomoni, Aerophile’s president. “In one single gaze, the entire breathtaking view can be seen from exceptional heights, including a unique opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the fall leaves.”

Wonders of Flight offers a spectacular view of Pigeon Forge, Tenn., and great Smoky Mountains National Park at an elevation of 400 feet.

Giacomoni explains that the Wonders of Flight balloon is environmentally friendly and totally silent thanks to its permanently inflated helium envelope and a hydroelectric winch.