Gatlinburg Guinness World Records Museum

The World Record book Come to Life!

As a child we were all sucked into the Guinness Book of World Records (GBoWR).  I can remember being excited every year as a new copy came out and got added to the shelf at the local book store.  The GBoWR was always a part of the school book sales back in the day, at recess you would see children pouring through the book and trying to decide what World Record they were going to break.  In Gatlinburg, TN you can step into the GBoWR at the Guinness World Records Museum.  See representations of people, places and things that have made the record book over the years and relive some of the thrill you had in childhood when you were leafing through the book.

The Guinness Book of World Records originated out of an argument that Sir Hugh Beaver (managing director of the Guinness Breweries) had with friends over what was the fastest game bird in England.  Beaver soon found that there was no book, as of 1951, that contained that information.  Through research, he decided that there had to be discussions about facts in pubs and bars all over the world.  So to that end, he decided that a world record book might be a very popular book, indeed.  Fact finders Norris and Ross McWhirter compiled the first book and it was just released in the British Isles as part of a marketing campaign.  In 1956, the book was released in the US and became a household name by the 70s.  The publishers of the GBoWR soon fell into a pattern of publishing an update every year.  Needless to say the idea of putting in museum dedicated to this tome of knowledge was not far behind the success of the book.

In Gatlinburg, TN the Guinness World Record Museum is located right on the Parkway.  Near the Village and across the street from Fannie Farkles, this is one of those street side attractions, those family attractions, that has been a part of Gatlinburg’s tourist trade for decades.  As a child you would pass the door and hope that this might be the trip where your pleading with your parents got you into the museum to see the weird, the strange and the wonderful.  As an adult, you get to listen to your children as they plead, cajole and pester you to take them into the museum.  Some advice:  take them!

When you go inside the Guinness World Record Museum, you are going to literally find yourself face to face with world records on every wall and surface.  Displays, videos, interactive games and galleries change constantly to bring the newest records to the museum.  If you want to see how the tall the tallest man and woman really were you can stand next to representations of them and see if you measure up to their height.  Stand by the Batcar, see the most tattooed person in the world, check out what the longest fingernails might have looked like, this and much more await you inside the Guinness World Records Museum.  Make the kids happy, brighten your own day, live the book at the Guinness World Record Museum.

Guinness World Records Museum
631 Parkway
Gatlinburg, TN
(865) 436-5096

Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze

Maddeningly Marvelous Mazes

I recently had the opportunity to go to Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze.  As this was the first mirror maze that I had been to, I didn’t quite know what to expect.  We parked the car on River Road near the Mysterious Mansion and walked through one of the shopping complexes to get to the Parkway, near Ripley’s Mirror Maze.  We (my wife and I) approached the ticket booth and paid for our admissions.  The young lady that was working the booth told us that our stay in the maze could take as long as we wanted it to but most people found that it took 30-45 minutes to make your way through the maze.  She also gave us gloves to wear so that we didn’t leave finger prints in case we ran into one of the mirrors with our hands.  I thought to myself: “I think I will know before I run into a mirror.”  I was wrong.

We stepped into the maze area and we were both amazed.  I knew the concept and that I would be in a room full of mirrors but I was unprepared for how disorienting it would be.  You are literally lost once you step away from the light coming through the main entrance.  As the door shut we were all of a sudden left to figure our way through a maze where we saw images of the same thing and of mirrors reflecting the image of other mirrors.  The lights are low, the mirrors and some of the walkways are framed with faux-stonework that seems to repeat forever.  As you begin to work your way into the maze you get a sense that you are in a much bigger place then you really are.  The illusion of size and of extra passages is held up the entire time you are in the Mirror Maze.

You are also in the maze with other people.  You will round a corner, at least what you think is a corner, only to find yourself face to face with another person.  You both decide to turn away from each other and try another route only to find that your next turn puts you back face to face with that person again.  We determined very quickly that this was not going to be as easy as we thought.  We found that we were hopelessly disoriented and lost. The feeling of not knowing your way out, was exhilarating and exciting.  We quicken our pace and found that we were only getting more and more lost.  After 25 minutes of roaming through the maze, running into mirrors and scaring ourselves when we ran into mirrors, and ourselves we finally found our way out.

I recommend taking the whole family to Ripley’s Mirror Maze.  The kids will love it, the adults will love it and you will find that you all have the same sensation of being lost and the joy of helping each other find a way out.  Tell the kids not to worry because it is dark and to just have fun trying to find the exit – we did.

Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze
623 Parkway
Gatlinburg, TN

Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium

Ripley’s Odditorium is located in the heart of Gatlinburg and brings joy to children of all ages with every visit.

Believe it… or not

Ripley’s Believe It or Not Oddirorium is the most centrally located of all the Ripley attractions in Gatlinburg, and also one of the most fun.  Walking through the museum that is the Odditorium is like walking through the mind of Robert Ripley: a little spooky, a little creepy and a lot of fun.

When you go through the turnstile at the Odditorium, you will take in the enormity of the museum from the get go.  Each and every square inch of the walls are covered with facts, parts of the collection, the odd and the bizarre.  From the unusual to the macabre, from the weird to the historical, there is something for everyone in the Odditorium.

Robert Ripley spent his life traveling around the world collecting pieces of other cultures for his collections.  At the Gatlinburg Odditorium, you get to see part of that life time. Each of the Ripley museums around the country house different parts of the Ripley’s archive.  At the Odditorium in Gatlinburg you get to see nature run amok with the bizarre animals from around the world, you get to experience different cultures (from headhunters to Europe) and you get to see some Robert Ripley history as well.

A stroll through the Odditorium is like taking in Ripley’s Believe It or Not TV show in real life.  You will find yourself face to face with the Fiji Mermaid.  You will find your self standing mere feet from an actual electric chair.  You can see the death mask of John Dilinger. But not everything is frightening.  You will get to see creations made out of matchsticks, stroll along the rooftops of a Victorian era English city or explore the world of optical illusions.  One of the highlights for any first time visitors is the worm hole.

At the end of your journey through the Odditorium is an enormous man-sized worm hole.  You get to walk in the track of a giant earthworm that spins around you as you walk through.  Though it is very disorienting, it is also beautiful and wonderful to walk through.  Children especially will spend lots of time walking back and forth through the revolving tunnel.

Pay a visit to the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium the next time you are in Gatlinburg.  This is one of the longest running attractions in Gatlinburg.  Many people an remember seeing it when they came with their parents when they were children. Now you have the opportunity to let your kids step into the world of the bizarre and ask if they believe it… or not.

Ripley’s Beleieve It or Not Odditorium
800 Parkway
Gatlinburg, TN

6 Reasons to Visit Ober Gatlinburg in the Summer

For over 50 years, Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort has been a staple in the area for family-fun activities. However, the fun found here isn’t limited to only during the winter. In fact, you may be surprised by all the exciting things to do you can find there during the summer as well. Continue reading “6 Reasons to Visit Ober Gatlinburg in the Summer”

Gatlinburg Space Needle

The Gatlinburg Space Needle is one Gatlinburg’s premiere attractions, part of the Gatlinburg skyline and helps ring in the New Year in the old town.

The Gatlinburg Space Needle is one of the premier attractions in Gatlinburg.  It is also a part of the Gatlinburg skyline and something that people look for in this busy little mountain town.  The Space Needle has become a landmark but it has also become its own destination with plenty of attractions to offer visitors.  The Space Needle is a perfect stop on your trip to Gatlinburg.

In 1970, The Gatlinburg Space Needle became the second highest tower in Tennessee, and though the tower has slipped to the 5th tallest, it is still bringing in lots of visitors each season.  Since 1970, the Space Needle has become more than part of the scenery.  It has become a landmark and people use it to place other businesses in town.  If you are looking for Bubba Gump’s, people are going to tell you to head toward the Space Needle.  Plus, people use it to point people to the center of town.  Add to that the fact that people hover around the Space Needle at the end of each year for the New Years Eve ball drop and the fireworks and you will recognize that the Space Needle is engrained into the mind set of visitors and locals alike.

One of the best things about the Space Needle is the view.  Once you have gone to the top of this 407’ tower, you have a 36 degree view of the surrounding area, including Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The ride to the top is accomplished in a glassed-in elevator so even the ride up is nice and scenic.  While you’re at the top of the tower, make sure to work that camera so that you can impress your family and friends back home with the spectacular view behind you.

While you are at the Space Needle, take in some of the other attractions around town as well.  Play Lazer Tag in the arcade (named Arcadia) with the whole family.  You can also learn more about Gatlinburg and the mountains that surround it while you ride in the elevator in their newest attraction called Higher Learning.  This system teaches you about the Smokies and Gatlinburg through a multimedia experience.  The good folks at the Space Needle also offer live entertainment in the form of a hypnotism show starring John Dee.  This show is full of comedy and hypnotism and plenty of family fun.

The Gatlinburg Space Needle is a tradition in the Smokies.  Not only is it a part of the skyline of the Gatlinburg, you are also going to be involved in a lot of extra attractions that they have in their venue.  Ride to the top of the elevator, view the town, take some pictures but make sure that you don’t leave without a trip to the arcade or taking in one of the shows.  The Space Needle is a stop that you have to make at least once when visit Gatlinburg in the Smokies.

Space Needle
115 Historic Nature Trail Rd
Gatlinburg, TN

Gatlinburg Sky Lift

One of the best views in Gatlinburg can be seen from the Gatlinburg Sky Lift!

There is one great way to take in the entire city of Gatlinburg from one attraction, and that attraction is the Gatlinburg Sky Lift.  You have seen it if you have driven through Gatlinburg.  About halfway through town, you will see rows of yellow chairlifts rising into the air on the righthand side and then descending down the mountain on the left.  Go find a place to park and get ready to see one of the best views of Gatlinburg, this side of the Space Needle.

When you get to its location on the Parkway, make sure everyone pairs up! The Sky Lift chairs hold two adults at a time or an adult and a couple of small kids.  The chairlift is a nice slow ride up the mountain.  The yellow chairs are as much a part of the skyline of Gatlinburg as the Aerial Tramway that is located right down the road. The chair comes around, you sit down as it continues to move and you start your ascent. On the way up the mountainside, you get to check out Gatlinburg, including the Christ in the Smokies Museum and Mysterious Mansion located on River Road. After you have been to the top of Crockett Mountain, you will get back on the chairlift and start your way back down. This is where you get the best view! You get to take in Gatlinburg from the air. You get to see all that Gatlinburg has to offer and the opportunities to snap as many pictures as possible while you are on the lift.

The Gatlinburg Sky Lift was established in the 50s. It is one of the oldest continuing attractions in the Smoky Mountains and has become a staple in Gatlinburg. While other attractions in Gatlinburg are constantly reinventing themselves, the chairlift remains a constant. They don’t have to try anything new as the scenery of the mountains and the beauty of Gatlinburg are the draw for this attraction. That being said, they have added things at the top of the mountain.

At the top of the mountain, you get to walk around and explore the top of the mountain. They have a gift shop and concession stand for refreshments, too. You can get a soft drink and a snack or some ice cream while you take in the views. You can also purchase your souvenir photo that was snapped of you while you traveled up the mountain!

Gatlinburg SkyLift
765 Parkway
Gatlinburg, TN

Mysterious Mansion

Mysterious Mansion has been an attraction on River Road in Gatlinburg for years. Bring the family and have them properly scared.

A Haunting Experience… If You Dare!

Since 1980, the Mysterious Mansion in Gatlinburg has been properly scaring people.  Located on River Road in Gatlinburg it is off the beaten path but one of the cornerstones of the attraction industry in Gatlinburg.  This is a walk through attraction—you start out in one room of the mansion and you journey through the creepy, the dark and the spooky as you roam from room to room.  But don’t worry, even though you are going to get nervous, scared, maybe even terrified you are going to have a great time and be safe the whole way through.

The Mysterious Mansion is located on River Road.  This is the road that runs in front of Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, parallel to the Parkway.  If you take the turn onto River Road in front of the aquarium, keep a look out for Edgewater Hotel.  Right past Edgewater, on the right is Mysterious Mansion.  You might be able to find a place to park in front of the attraction itself but if not find a parking lot or garage and walk to the mansion and get ready to be scared.

Part of the draw of the Mysterious Mansion is the exterior.  The design of the exterior of this attraction is perfect.  If you close your eyes and try to imagine a haunted house, you would picture something like the Mysterious Mansion.  Looking completely out of place between the hotels along the road, take the walk up to the front door and begin your journey – if you dare.  You will start your journey in one of the rooms on the main floor of the mansion.  From there, you start to wind your way through other dark rooms, down to the basement, up to the attic, around twisting, creaky staircases, looking for a way out.  As you walk, the tension will build.  You will break out in a cold sweat as you doubt your ability to get out of the mansion.  And along the way you might even might some of the darker denizens of the mansion.

Now, all of that being said, this is an attraction, a family attraction.  Nothing is going to happen to you at the Mysterious Mansion.  Their atmosphere is perfect and you will feel a definite sense of apprehension as you walk around in the dark.  The quality of the attraction will ‘suck’ you in.  You will start to believe that you are in a haunted house and that you might be in danger, but you aren’t – you are in an attraction in Gatlinburg, TN and the people that run the attraction are doing exactly what you asked them to do – scare you!

Visit the Mysterious Mansion on your next trip to Gatlinburg. Take your family and get them good and properly scared.  Everyone enjoys a good haunted house and the mansion is not only a great haunted house but it is a landmark in Gatlinburg.  Small haunted houses are disappearing around the country. Step into one that is done right, get your scare on and enjoy the fright of your life.

Mysterious Mansion
424 River Rd
Gatlinburg, TN
7 Days a Week 2pm – 10pm
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Ripley’s Aquarium Gatlinburg

Get Gatlinburg aquarium coupons and read reviews and tips for Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tennessee…voted the best aquarium in the United States!

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, TN has been voted the #1 aquarium in the entire United States by Trip Advisor! If you’re looking for the perfect thing to do with your family, friends, church group, business retreat, etc then look no further than this amazing Gatlinburg aquarium that literally takes you into the action. The Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg features an estimated 10,000 sea creatures with 350 different species ranging from tiny sea horses to enormous sharks! There’s definitely something for everyone as you make your way through the aquarium and realize why it is voted the best aquarium in the nation.

There are many attractions in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies has been rated the best over all of them! You can easily spend a couple of hours in the aquarium, so they even have a restaurant inside in case you get an appetite looking at all the fish. If your children are begging to take a fish home, don’t worry they also have a gift shop where you can buy some stuffed versions on the sharks and other animals that you saw throughout the Gatlinburg aquarium. Seriously…they’ve thought of just about everything!

Here are some of the things that you’ll experience at the Gatlinburg Aquarium.

  • Species from the Tropical Rainforest: Discover four-eyed Fish, Oscars, Poison Dart Frogs, Piranhas, and more!
  • Ocean Realm: See fish of all sizes, color and shape in this area.
  • Systems Control: If you or anyone in your group is into levers, knobs, switches, lights, computers, etc then this is the place for you! Here you will see the inner-workings of how the millions of gallons of aquarium water stays fresh, temperature-regulated, etc and how all of the animals are monitored throughout the entire aquarium.
  • Coral Reef: The most colorful fish in the aquarium…and the world for that matter! Be sure to visit during the feeding times to see a great show.
  • Shark Lagoon: I think the name says it all! This may be the very thing you came to see! While you may stand motionless in awe, you’ll actually be moving along a gliding path through a glass tunnel…right underneath all of the action! You’ll see snappers, tarpon, a giant sea turtle, stingrays, and so much more…and sharks!
  • Discovery Center: This is THE place for the kids…or even the young at heart! The Discovery Center is the hands-on area of the aquarium where you get to touch, grab, twist, all sorts of things…you can even touch live horseshoe crabs! There are also special programs offered for teachers and social groups making this a perfect destination for a school field trip.
  • Gallery of the Seas: See some beautiful as well as scary looking creatures in this part of the aquarium! You’ll see an octopus, sea horses, jellyfish, corals, and so much more!
  • Stingray Bay: All sorts of species of stingrays glide through this part of the aquarium specifically devoted to them. Be sure to catch the dive show and see the stingrays eat right from the hands of the divers!
  • Touch a Ray Bay: Just as the name implies, you can actually touch a stingray here!
  • Babies in Incubators: Discover the miracle of life and the various stages of incubation for numerous types of creatures.

Tips for visiting the Gatlinburg Aquarium

  • Gatlinburg Aquarium Coupons – The Gatlinburg Aquarium is much like Dollywood and Dixie Stampede in that they do not offer coupons in coupon books and such around town. Most deals that you find are often linked to timeshare promotions. They do, however, offer discounts for the following: AAA Discount, AARP Discount, Group Discount, Local Resident Discount, Military Discount, Senior Citizen Discount, and Student Discount.
  • Photography Tips – One of the biggest “mistakes” that people make is to use their flash when taking pictures through the aquarium glass. What this typically does is cause a bright reflection on the glass and all you will see is a big, bright flash in the picture….and no fish! Try taking images without the flash. If you have the option on your camera, bump up the ISO to around 400. If that doesn’t work, go ahead and turn on the flash (if it’s allowed) and put the camera lens up against the glass. This usually produces the clearest images.
  • Go Early – The best time to go is in the morning since the aquarium gets busier as the day passes. Also, try to avoid Saturdays if at all possible.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg TN
88 River Rd
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
(888) 240-1358?

Elk in Cataloochee

The Cataloochee area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to one species you won’t see on the Tennessee side – Elk.

If one of your reasons for coming to Gatlinburg and the national park is the chance to get a glimpse at some of the amazing wildlife that call the Smokies home, I’d suggest taking the 65 mile trip from Gatlinburg to Cataloochee in North Carolina. The Cataloochee area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to one species you won’t see on the Tennessee side – Elk.

The Smokies has seen the elk population continue to grow ever since they were reintroduced to the area in early 2001. Cataloochee’s elk began to roam the forests in 2002. At one time, elk were as prevalent in Smokies as the black bear and were one of the dominant herd animals in the area. If you haven’t seen an elk up close, they’re much bigger than the white tail deer that are commonly seen on the Tennessee side of the Great Smoky Mountains. Outside of Cataloochee, your best chance to see elk, especially a herd of them, is near the Cherokee entrance to the park, but there is always a really good chance of seeing them in Cataloochee.

Cataloochee compares favorably to Cades Cove, only it’s on the northern end of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Whether you are staying in Tennessee or North Carolina, Cataloochee is only 10 miles from Interstate 40.  In comparison to Cades Cove’s historical buildings, Cataloochee is much more secluded, thus less population, which equals fewer homes/buildings. It also has fewer visitors then Cades Cove.  Moreover, Cades Cove does not have elk. Cataloochee is also a great place to take a lunch or even camp out for a night, the elk will find you. It’s hard to miss them.

Since elk were introduced in Cataloochee, it’s hard to go to that side of the GSMNP without seeing an elk.  They’re literally everywhere. So amazing! The size of the elk is almost unrivaled in the national park. Their trophy racks are unparalleled by most deer and cause most wildlife to approach with hesitancy.  Their racks tower above them and make the elk itself seem even more imposing.  Some racks seem almost as tall as the animal itself. Nevertheless, elk are very docile and, though you don’t want them to get as close as the deer do in Cades Cove, it’s their nature to get close.

On at least one trip to Cataloochee, a tagged female was so close that you could have reached out and touched her.  Meanwhile, the bulls were all in a field together, grazing. There were also about a dozen lying in a field – herd mentality.  In Cataloochee these normally aggressive animals have found a stress-free location to graze and raise their young. Let your family experience the beauty of an animal that has been reintroduced to their rightful home.  Head to Cataloochee on your next trip to the Smokies and experience the elk.

Hillbilly Golf

Right as you go into Gatlinburg, if you are coming from Pigeon Forge, you are going to see a sign for Hillbilly Golf on the left hand side of the road.  Hillbilly Golf is a staple of Gatlinburg attractions and has been a min golf destination for years.  When you give Hillbilly Golf a once over you are going to wonder where the miniature golf course is but that is because you are not looking at the right spot.  Stand in  front of the ticket booth and look up.  You will notice an incline rail system that seems to go up and out of sight, that is where the course is – that is where the fun is.

Get your ticket and jump on the rail car.  You will take a brief ride up the mountain, the 300 feet only takes a few minutes but it does give you a great view of the Parkway as it threads its way into Gatlinburg.  You ride backwards up the mountain to both of the course.  Each one is a full 18 holes and both are delightfully decorated and fun to play.  But of course, half the fun is the fact that you are playing on the mountain.  The courses are built into the mountainside, into the very rock with trees and plants growing all around.

Not only are the courses chiseled into the ground and rock of the Smoky Mountains but they are decorated with a detritus that has taken years to accumulate.  Pieces of mountain history, pieces of the past decorate the courses.  The obstacles that you shoot and putt around are the very articles and things of the past that you might have seen doting the front yard of any mountain person in the Smokies at the turn of the century. Outhouses and stills are part of the course, as are native plants and rock walls that came to symbolize the mountain yards of the homesteads in the Smokies.  Some of these items have been out on these courses since Hillbilly Golf opened years ago.  Golf balls have been shot through and around these pieces of Americana for years and you might even find that you are still trying to putt around the same still that you had trouble with as a kid. Try both courses while you are there, spend plenty of time on the side of the mountain and experience the thrill you had when you rode the incline railway up the first time you took it years ago.

Hillbilly Golf
340 Parkway
Gatlinburg, TN