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66 Hours in Pigeon Forge

Our destination was MagiQuest, but we did much more!

4 pm Wednesday we arrived in Pigeon Forge, TN after driving most of the day. We checked in and picked up our keys and directions to the cabin, and proceeded to get slightly lost - but in no time at all we found the cabin, Our cabin - Palmetto Placechecked it all out, unloaded the car, and headed out to grab milk and a few other necessities.   After that we went in search of dinner.
We happened upon the Comedy Barn, which promised a family-friendly show. Since we have a tough time finding things that entertain both our 3 year old and our 11 year old, this sounded like a good bet.  Right next door was the Happy Days Diner, and after purchasing tickets for the show, we sat down for a quick dinner. It was yummy diner food, great 50's diner atmosphere, lovely southern hospitality from our waitress, and we were out in plenty of time before the show.
The Comedy Barn was indeed something all of us enjoyed. While 2 or 3 jokes skimmed the edges of being family friendly, everything else was good clean fun. About halfway through the show they invited the kids up to the stage to dance, and then afterward sold a DVD of the ENTIRE show, including the part with our kids. Clever!  And yes, if you are related to us you'll probably be subjected to the video at some point. ;)  The show ended and we got back to the cabin between 9:30 and 10 pm - the girls went right to bed and although Erika said Kat talked to her forever before falling asleep, I heard none of it and everyone seemed happy.
The next morning we got up and had breakfast and were one of the first people to arrive at MagiQuest 3 of us wield wands at MagiQuestat 9 am.  This turned out to be a great thing, as we had the place nearly to ourselves while we got the hang of it all, and it didn't start to fill up and get busy until the end of our 90 minute session!  

We bought tickets for everything MagiQuest had to offer, so after questing, we did their "Pirate Glow-Putt Mini-Golf" (cool!) Glo-putt pictureand then tried the "Laser Challenge"  This was like any action movie you've seen where the 'treasure' is behind a security system of crisscrossing lasers, and if you break the beam, the alarm goes off.  In this case, the alarm goes off for about 10 seconds and then resets and you get to keep going.  It was definitely made for someone Erika's size, although she tripped it a few times. Doug tripped it more often, and I - with a backpack AND Kat in tow, didn't stand a chance.  Still, it was 2 minutes or so of fun. ;)

It was time for lunch and we hit the Smoky Mountain Brewery.  After lunch we scouted the location of that night's entertainment, the Black Bear Jamboree. Right next door was a visual oddity, "Wonderworks" - an upside down building!  I don't thiink the pictures even come close to conveying the overall effect of this place.  We never actually went inside but will probably do so if we ever return to the area.Upsidedown building - Wonderworks

Then it was back to MagiQuest for the coolest mirror maze ever!Mirror maze
I then forced everyone home so I could take a nap before our dinner and a show at the Jamboree.
We arrived early and browsed the extensive gift shop at the Jamboree, and eventually were led to our seats and served dinner. The food was nothing to write home about but we had plenty of food and the show... well.... that was really good.  Lots of singing and dancing.  Strangely, Kat stayed up til the end of the show last night, around 10 pm, but conked out about 1/2 way through this show around 6:30!  She slept in my arms for most of the rest of the show until I transferred her to Doug - where she continued sleeping until the show was pretty much over.  After the show we picked up another souvenir DVD (of that night's show, including our girls on the stage for a bit) and marveled at the other architectural wonder next door - the Titanic.  That's right, there was a ship in the parking lot next door. The attraction wasn't open yet, we missed it by a few days, but it promised to be some sort of recreation of the Titanic's fateful trip.  (No, thanks!)
When we got home we took a quick dip in the cabin's hot tub (well, Kat wouldn't go in, which was probably just as well) and then we popped some popcorn and we watched the VeggieTale movie "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything", which Erika and I had seen in the theater, but Doug and Kat had never seen.  Good stuff (though I like "Jonah" much better.)
Friday was our last full day, so we headed back out to MagiQuest first thing in the morning for another hour of questing.  Then we went gem hunting - a $15 dollar bucket of sand contained quite a few gems!  We all had fun 'panning' for them, sifting sand through a mesh box with some running water. We spent a little time at The 3 Bears next door, but when we found out there was an admission price (and not cheap, either!) to see the actual 3 bears we headed on to lunch.
Our first choice for lunch had an extensive wait, so we went to the nearby "Old Mill Restaurant".  Good food, decent service (if a bit slow) and we were then on our way to our other main trip object:  Great Smokey Mountain National Park.   (take the back roads - avoid overcrowded downtown Gatlinburg!)  
Kat and Erika with a Smokey Mountain National Park sign

Our visit to the park was short and sweet - one of the places we wanted to see was unreachable due to closed roads.  Given that we found a sizable patch of snow next to one of the parking areas, despite 80 degree temperatures, it's not hard to imagine that the huge February snowstorm may have still been impacting the park.  We enjoyed a short stop alongside a rushing river.... well, smaller than a rushing river, but bigger than a babbling brook.
Kaz and Kat and Erika beside rushing water in the Great Smokey Mountain National Park

We took the back roads home (to our cabin) - very very nice, although at one point I felt like I was NOT driving on a road, but either a paved path or a private driveway.  It was the correct way, though (thank you, car navigation system) and before we knew it we were back at our local grocery store making one last stop.  Although our intention had been to go out to dinner that night, some good looking and good priced salmon enticed Doug to cook that night.  Yum!

After dinner we had some daylight left, so we squeezed in a few geocaches - we tried for 3 and got 2 of them.  Too keep Kat interested we call them "Treasure Hunts".  We are new to geocaching, but I can see us doing this more and more in the coming years. Fun!
After that we did one last hour at MagiQuest - Kat quit when she had to repeatedly face the scary dragon and then a scary goblin, but the rest of us achieved 'Level 3 Magi' which basically meant we finished all the quests in the booklet that we got. Only Doug completely finished the last quest though, by defeating the dragon. Erika and I took multiple stabs at it, but couldn't get the hang of it.     Back to our cabin!

We did a little bit of organizing and packing and then off to bed!

The next morning we got up early, had breakfast in the cabin, and raced some dark stormy looking clouds to get the car packed before they dropped any rain. We left our keys at the check-in building - dropped in a slot, because although check-out time was 11 am, they weren't open when we got there at 10 am. ? !!!  Doug did most of the early driving while I slept, and after lunch we traded - or was it the other way around? Whichever it was, sleeping made the trip home go by fairly quickly.  We got home in time to unpack the car, firm up plans for Easter Dinner the next day with our gracious neighbor hosts, and get the kids in bed so that the Easter Bunny could come.
Being a northern girl, I wasn't sure what I was doing planning a vacation in Tennessee, but we sure had a great time. As I mentioned above, it began as a trip to MagiQuest (for Erika) - but we packed in quite a few other adventures.  And we will almost definitely return.