What a fascinating time to be in the attractions industry. States are slowly starting to ease up on stay-at-home restrictions. With that, comes the opening of attractions (and eventually) theme parks. As we stated a few weeks ago, Pigeon Forge is the first tourist-driven town in the United States to slowly reopen their attractions and we’ve got some updates on what that looks like in today’s article.
Here is just part of the list that is posted to the Pigeon Forge Chamber of Commerce website currently. This isn’t even close to accurate as we have found many businesses have not reached out to them to say they have reopened. Currently, the bigger attractions like Anakeesta, Ober Gatlinburg and even Dollywood have not formerly announced an opening date.
Probably the strangest of all is the changing of dates for the shows in the area. Most of them are owned by the same company (merged last year in a buyout) and they all seem to push back dates simultaneously. Last time we reported about Pigeon Forge, those shows (and nearly all in town) were gearing up to open Memorial Day weekend. These are shows like Dolly Parton’s Stampede and the Comedy Barn. Now it looks like they have pushed back into June.
In this phase of reopening, arcades are allowed to resume operation along with several other types of attractions. Frannie Farkle’s of Gatlinburg posted several images on their Facebook page recently. Amongst other things, they have shut down every other game to make sure guests can social distance. They have also created a traffic pattern within the arcade for guests to flow through. This is similar to what you have probably seen most grocery stores do.
Easily the biggest attraction complex to open so far is The Island at Pigeon Forge. If you’re unfamiliar, this is a shopping, dining and attractions area in Pigeon Forge that is home to dozens of businesses and all of them have reopened.
Recently a YouTuber who goes by “The Carpetbagger” posted a video to YouTube of all the changes around Pigeon Forge. More specifically, he did a walk around video through The Island in PF and noted all the changes Again, arcades are blocking off every other machine here.
Over at the Smoky Mountain Wheel (ferris wheel), the queue to buy tickets has these little pucks that groups are asked to stand on. These are naturally placed six feet apart to encourage social distancing. The attraction is wiping down every gondola after a group exits. They have crew members even riding an entire cycle to thoroughly wipe it all down before the next set of guests enter.
If you’ve never seen The Carpetbagger’s YouTube channel, it’s an absolute must. He covers tons of off-the-beaten path attractions I have never even heard of. I’m a huge fan of his channel and you could spend hours binge watching his videos.
We will continue to monitor the situation in Pigeon Forge as it progresses. While other attractions are slowly starting to reopen in Florida, they are far more spread out and not opening as rapidly as Pigeon Forge. To us, this is the area to watch. Next update we will talk about what kind of an impact COVID-19 has had in the area (if any).
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