Cincinnati Family Magazine

Your # 1 Hometown Family Resource

May 23, 2024

What’s New in the Smokies?

Looking for a family friendly travel destination that is under 5 hours away? The Great Smokey Mountains is the perfect place!

In fact, I have written about why I love it so much before…

Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tennessee bring up feelings of nostalgia for me. When visiting, my mind is filled with beloved memories made during my childhood. My family took trips to the mountains many times during my childhood and some of the places are exactly the same, completely unchanged, from when I was a little girl.


For example, taking my boys gem mining at the same spot I mined many years ago brings me a warm sense of comfort and happiness, like I am passing down cherished memories to my children that my parents gave to me. And while much of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg does have a vintage feeling, the cities are also bursting with innovation and NEWness.

New construction and upgrades are around every corner in the smokeys and the mix of memorabilia and brand new keeps families wanting to visit every single summer! So what’s new this year?


Dollywood’s Wildwood Grove

Brand new in 2019, families can explore a beautiful thriving world that exists under the whimsical Wildwood Tree. With 6 new rides for little kiddos and thrill seekers, new dining options, live mountain music and character appearances, this colorful new land makes Dollywood a destination filled with discovery for families. Beyond typical theme park attractions, Wildwood Grove also offers up an “oasis” for kids to cool down and an indoor play structure as well. Kids of all ages can splash, play and cool down in fresh mountain water or even play drum out some music on instruments at Wildwood Creek. Or kids can get in touch with nature while playing inside at Hidden Hollow; they can climb trees, explore, play and slide down hollow logs.

During our recent excursion to Dollywood, my older dudes loved the exciting Green Tree Swing and my little guy laughed with delight on the Frogs & Fireflies ride. The nature decor at every turn sets the ambiance of a playful woodland world- guests feel swept away to a dream world that Dolly created to embrace her own childhood in the smokeys.

This wonderful Wildwood Grove is located at Dollywood Park at 2700 Dollywood Parkway in Pigeon Forge Tennessee.

Call 1-800-365-5996 or visit for more information.

Pirate’s Voyage Dinner Show

Argh, ya’ll! This brand new show is both action packed AND delicious. Mermaids, beautiful music and live animals will captivate the audiences hearts, then pirate’s battling for honor and Blackbeard’s loot will leave the audience on the edge of their seats. This jaw-dropping show features aerial acts, trampoline artists, pyrotechnics, sword fights and so. much. more! While the show may make the audience feel transported to the Carribean, the down country meal will bring it back to the smokeys. The four course meal starts with a fluffy, warm, buttery biscuit and creamy vegetable soup… then out comes even more food…  fried chicken, a pork chop, gooey yummy mac n’ cheese, sweet and savory sweet potato souffle and for dessert is a perfect peach turnover. YUM!

Bon Voyage, set sail with your family to 2713 Parkway in Pigeon Forge to see this perfect Pirate dinner show!

Call 865-505-2469 or visit for more information.

Guinness World Records Adventure

Head to this attraction for a super immersive, hands-on and astonishingly fun activity for all ages. Learn about world record holders and then test your hand at making some records of your own! Can you hula hoop your way to stardom? What about scream the loudest scream ever heard? Can you chop down trees at record speed? Or try to stump a Rubix Cube solving robot. Upon entry, guests receive a game card that can be personalized with adorable emojis and used to play “record breaking” games and challenges.

My oldest son, Dominic, had “10/10” fun at Believe it or Not… and I agree with that rating! Part museum and part arcade, I can honestly say I feel the ticket price is more than reasonable considering how long we stayed and played.

Set records at 800 Parkway Road in Gatlinburg.

Call 865-436-5096 or visit for more information.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

Argh, mateys! A new educational, historic, scientific and hands-on exhibit has landed at the aquarium. Savage Seas explores pirate life, sea monsters lurking deep in the ocean blue, shipwreck’s carnage and how mother nature plays a savage role to the seas. Discover if you have what it takes to be a pirate while meeting some pirates along the way and even snap a picture with the aquarium’s resident sea monster.

My family always asks to plan a day at the Aquarium of the Smokies when we visit Gatlinburg, and with good reason. Ripley’s Aquarium is award-winning and absolutely breathtaking. Along with the beautiful fish, turtles, sharks and other aquatic life, there is a great indoor play structure and various touch tanks.   

Don’t walk the plank, sail over to 88 River Road in Gatlinburg for a pirate voyage to remember.

Call 865-430-8808 or visit for more information.


The longest pedestrian suspension bridge is now open in Gatlinburg! Ride the ski lift to the top of the mountain and bravely walk across this astonishing bridge. Stretching 680 feet across, with a height of 140 feet up this record breaking bridge is exhilarating, amazing and provides the best views of the smokies around. Get your cameras ready, at the halfway point the bridge has a glass bottom!  

Take a breathtaking walk across this bridge, head to 765 Parkway Road in Gatlinburg.

Call 865-436-4307 or visit for more information.

About the Author

Amanda Ciani

Amanda Ciani lives in Northern Kentucky with her husband and their three terrific sons. She enjoys writing haiku parenting poems for her Instagram account (@cinciciani), and Twitter account (@haikuciani).