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

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

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

Ripley’s Aquarium, Dinosaurs: When Giants Ruled

A 10-foot Tyrannosaurus Rex at an aquarium? It’s not the first thing you’d expect to see on a trip to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. However, the T. Rex is the new centerpiece of the aquarium’s “Dinosaurs: When Giants Ruled” exhibit that just recently opened.

The “Dinosaurs” exhibit is there through 2013. It’s the aquarium’s big spring exhibit. Each year they seem to get bigger and better.

Now, T. Rex isn’t alone. He and four other animatronic dinosaurs fill the 2,000-square-foot exhibit space. You’ll think that you’ve back to the land that time forgot. There’s even a 7 ½-foot, man-made volcano.

There is an Apatosaurus, which for those of you asking “What is an Apatosaurus?”, it’s a 30-foot-long, green-skinned dinosaur that moves its long neck and turns its head in the exhibit. Meanwhile, the horned Chasmosaurus parent and child also turn their heads, open their mouths, roar and squeal at the passersby. Finally, you’ll find that the model Mosasaurus, a prehistoric marine reptile, is suspended in the exhibit’s ocean display.

There’s even a sand display that kids can dig through as they search for dinosaur bones. This interactive exhibit incorporates nine iPad dinosaur-themed, children-oriented “Dino Challenge” applications with the more old-fashioned technology of a dig pit.

“Dinosaurs: When Giants Ruled” also spotlights fossils of actual dinosaurs unearthed over the years including a Triceratops horn dug up in South Dakota, an arm and hand bone of a two-legged Gallimimus found in Mongolia, and a Stegosaurus skeleton found in China in the ’90s.

Ripley’s General Manager Ryan DeSear said an aquarium hosting an exhibit about dinosaurs “just kind of fits. We have a marine dinosaur back there called a Mosasaurus, where you can kind of see the evolution of sharks. So there is a fit there. It’s maybe a bit tenuous but it’s still there. And people love dinosaurs. They just do.”

Motion Ride Movie Theater

Next time you get a hankerin’ to go see a movie, you might just want to venture down into Gatlinburg and experience the Motion Ride Movie Theater. This isn’t your regular flat-screened cinema that you’ll find at any local multiplex.

Once you leave a movie at the Motion Ride Movie Theater in Gatlinburg, you’ll have been tossed over a cliff, experienced the g-forces of soaring close to space, been turned around, twisted and thrown for a loop – all while sitting back in your seat. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget and will make other films seem like a walk in the park.

The Motion Ride Movie Theater has six adventures movie-goers may pick from. That’s quite a lot compared to other similar theaters found mostly at large theme parks. The movie Smash Factory takes you through underground tunnels at some of the highest speeds you’ll not really experience, get it? Glacier Run takes you through a winter time paradise. Astro Canyon Coaster is great for the kids who want to explore different landscapes they may not be familiar with. Slot Car Boogie is another high speed driving movie that will leave you wind blown and on the edge of your seat. Or if you are from the mountains of West Virginia and your grand pappy was a coal miner, choose a movie to honor his memory, The Volcano Mine Ride.

What makes this simulator experience different than other simulators you may have tried before is that your seat will not be the only thing moving. The movie screen actually moves with the seats creating a much more realistic experience.

The Motion Ride Movie Theater opens at 10am every day except Christmas. It costs $10.99 for one movie or $13.99 for two movies, but the real bargain is to be had when you purchase a ticket to watch them ALL for only $15.99. If you are in the military, be sure and let the vendor know so that you can receive your discount.

This exciting Gatlinburg attraction is located at the Reagan Terrace Mall on the Parkway between lights #6 and #7.

Ripley’s Penguins

There’s only one place you can catch the rare, African Penguin in this part of the country and that’s at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, TN.

Since 2010, these little penguins have become one of the highlights of the Ripley’s Aquarium experience. The aquarium has even initiated a couple different events that celebrate the loveable little critters. During the summer, kids can take part in camps and sleepovers at Ripley’s that allow them to get inside the lives of the penguins. It’s a great way to spend part of your summer vacation while learning more about these exciting creatures.

In all, the Penguin Experience is a 3-hour event that delves deep into the lives of the African Penguins, or Black-footed Penguin, and is presented by the aquarium’s expert staff. You can even get as up close and personal with the penguins as you want. That’s right, you can pet them and walk around in their habitat at the aquarium. Go face-to-face with these magical black and white, flightless birds. You can even get your photo taken with them so that you’ll remember the occasion for years to come.

Penguins are just a part of the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies experience. Though they are a fairly large and important part. Make sure that when you come plan on attending one of the Penguin Painting Experience days. African Penguins are artists in their own right and they love to paint. Each painting is done to the Penguin’s own unique, creative style. It’s a footprint work of art you might say, and you can take it home with you as well.

Both of these events are featured during the months of July and August, so head over to Gatlinburg, Tennessee and the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies to catch these exotic birds at work, and at play. Take advantage of the aquarium’s Penguin Playhouse exhibit. There you can crawl through the underwater tube and watch the penguins swim and play. It’s like you’re actually swimming with the penguins underwater!

Davy Crockett Mini Golf

Everybody loves to play miniature golf.  In Gatlinburg, one of the most popular mini golf locations is Davy Crockett Miniature Golf.  Located right off the parkway, there is plenty of parking, free parking, and you are out of the press of downtown Gatlinburg.  Add to this that it is one of the most beautifully made and creative mini-golf locations in Gatlinburg and you are in for quite a treat.

Davy Crockett Mini Golf attempts to tell the story of legendary hero of the Tennessee mountains with the help of an all-critter cast.  From Davy, in this case a fun loving raccoon to the rest of his mountain home friends, you will be amused and your children will be delighted by the antics that these animals get up to.  From shooting cannons to creating water sluices, the animals have been placed around the golf course to add obstacles and to create an atmosphere of fun and adventure around the course, or in this case, two courses.

Both of the courses (36 hole sin all) are challenging and fun.  The obstacles range from water hazards to hills, from wavy bumps meant to make it hard to putt to holes that are not visible from where you start.  Ripleys (yes, the same folks that run the Aquarium) have made this one of the neatest golf courses you will ever play on.  And, unlike many other attractions and activities in Gatlinburg, you don’t have to park and walk for a long time to get there.  There is a parking lot for Davy Crockett Mini Golf guests right next door to the golf course itself, so you aren’t paying extra to park but, it is not far down the street from some of the hotels and motels so you are always welcome to walk to Davy Crockett and enjoy the nice stretch of the legs on your way to play with the family.

Next trip you take to Gatlinburg, make sure that the Davy Crockett Mini Golf is part of your itinerary.  Get the family together and hang out in the great outdoors.  Spend some time challenging the kids.  Play both courses and take in the playful antics of the critters that tell a story about Davy Crockett as you make your way around the courses.  See who can win the game and then, when you come back year after year, play again and again, wait for that day when your kids finally win and then you can reflect on that first game you played with the Davy Crockett raccoon watching from the sign.

Davy Crockett Mini Golf
188 Parkway
Gatlinburg, TN

Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort to open December 7!!!

Ober Gatlinburg is the only ski resort in Gatlinburg, TN and is now open for the 2012 season! Get lift tickets rates, directions, schedules, and more! Ski Gatlinburg, TN at the Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort.

The information below is for the 2012 ski season:

It’s once again that time of year again – time to hit the slopes as Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort opens up for the old town’s winter season! Officially, Ober is planning to open its doors its doors for skiing and snowboarding on December 7 following months of snow-making.

If you plan on skiing in Gatlinburg, TN during your next vacation, church retreat, or Smoky Mountain getaway then the Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort is where you’ll wind up. This is the only ski resort in Tennessee, so if you’re looking for more choices you’ll need to look a little farther east in North Carolina at slopes such as Sugar Mountain, Ski Beech, Appalachian, etc.

Ober Gatlinburg is a family ski resort that has activities for everyone. If part of your family doesn’t ski or snowboard, there are other fun things to do such as ice skating, arcade, alpine slide, scenic chair lift, and more. Even party poopers have something to do as they can sit by the fire in the lounge or even “people-watch” around the ice skating rink. Ober’s been a Smoky Mountain staple since 1962 when it comes to entertaining family, friends, and even yourself.

If you plan on making Ober Gatlinburg your ski resort vacation destination, then you have two options of getting up there. You can either ride the aerial tramway (which happens to be the largest aerial tramway in America) from downtown Gatlinburg or you can drive up the mountain on Ski Mountain Road. Simply turn at traffic light #9 on the south end of Gatlinburg (closest to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park) and follow the winding road (Ski Mountain Road) all the way to the top…just have cash ready to park. The earlier you go, the better. The are three tiers of parking lots and if you get there early, you have a better shot at getting a parking spot at the top near the resort. Otherwise, it’s a short hike from the lower parking lots, but the locals call that the warmup!

The 2012-13 ski season in Gatlinburg, TN is upon us!