Showing posts with label Belle_Island_Village. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Belle_Island_Village. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg: #1 On Southern Living's "Best Weekend Getaway" List

Readers of Southern Living Magazine voted Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg #1 on their list of "Best Weekend Getaways" and #5 on their list of "Best Family Destinations" in the magazines annual "Readers' Choice Awards" poll. Results in 14 categories are in the January issue.

The area's family-friendly attractions, particularly the Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, earned praise from the magazine's readers and editors, along with the scenic beauty of East Tennessee.

Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga topped the "Best Scenic View" list, which also featured two favorite destinations in Great Smoky Mountains National Park-Cades Cove (#6) and Clingman's Dome (#7), which is the highest point in Tennessee.

"The appeal of our attractions, lodging and dining, plus the spectacular beauty of the mountains resonates with our guests. That will be especially true as people visit this year during the 75th anniversary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park," said Leon Downey, executive director of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism.

Pigeon Forge, which has only 5,800 residents but approximately 11 million visitors a year, offers guests a year-long calendar of special events, approximately 10,000 accommodations (hotel, motel, cabin, chalet), more than a dozen entertainment theaters, six outlet malls, craft shops, art galleries and attractions such as Dollywood, Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede and WonderWorks.

A major new attraction, Belle Island Village, is projected to open this spring. Its major components include the Debbie Reynolds Hollywood Motion Picture Museum and the Darrell Waltrip Racing Experience.

"Southern Living's 'Readers' Choice Awards' mean a lot. The magazine's circulation is 2.8 million, and its readers really know the South," Mr. Downey said.

Southern Living is the eighth largest monthly magazine in the U.S., and its readership is more than 16 million. Its "Readers' Choice Awards" are acknowledged as one of the largest reader-response programs in the publishing industry.

Other Tennessee favorites in the 2008 voting included Franklin at #5 on the "Best Small Town" list; Nashville at #5 on the "Best City" list; Nashville's Loveless Café and Pancake Pantry at #5 and #6 on the "Best Breakfast/Brunch" list; and the Memphis in May International Festival at #9 on the "Best Festival/Fair" list.

Balloting already has begun for the 2009 awards at www.southernliving.com/readerschoice. Voting ends on June 30, 2009.

Information courtesy of The Chattanoogan

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Darrell Waltrip Experience Racing Towards Success at Belle Island Village

Jeff Hammond has an almost child-like excitement for racing. This fall, Hammond believes that excitement will be passed on to racing fans throughout the southeast as The Darrell Waltrip Racing Experience opens at Belle Island Village in Pigeon Forge.

In the years Hammond served as crew chief for Waltrip, the pair formed the strong bond that led them into the broadcast booth for Fox Sports and now into a joint venture that will be a cornerstone for the 26-acre $114 million development. Hammond said the project was a "golden opportunity" to make a statement about Waltrips' 28-year career in NASCAR.

"Darrell's a Tennessee boy," Hammond said Tuesday at Belle Island Tuesday. "His success at Bristol is legendary."

"(The Experience) is going to be an opportunity to go from the past to the present and look to the future of what racing's all about," Hammond said. "And with as many people that come through Pigeon Forge a year, we're going to offer up a unique insight not only into the past, but to the future of racing."

Hammond said his decision to join in with Waltrip on the project was a natural fit."(In our NASCAR careers) I'd build it and he'd drive it, so I'm trying to help build it so he'll drive it," Hammond said. "He is probably one of the best spokepersons, one of the best emissaries, whenever it comes to promoting anything. He has a way of sharing his innermost feelings and getting the message out there."

Hammond said that message will be a truly unique racing experience geared to give fans excitement like they've never had before - something better that other racing-themed events can't offer."Once we get what we feel is different and unique and exciting - when we get it put like we want to - then I know (Darrell's) really going to be proud as a peacock over it," Hammond said. "That's what I've always been about when it came to (our) relationship - building him not only a race car that he can win in, but building him something that he can go out and really just thump them with. And that's what we're going to do here with this Experience."

"We're not just going to have your average NASCAR experience or NASCAR park, we really want to build something that's going to be futuristic. In touch with the past, but with cutting-edge technology and opportunities to give the fans to touch and feel something that they can't do in a whole lot of other places. We'd like to be the trendsetters ... and have something that's not like what every other place has got."

Hammond says that will be a combination of modern technology, including interactive demonstrations and simulations, and entertaining historical displays."We're trying to take it to the next level, where fans can reach and touch it," Hammond said. "We've got some modern technology that's going to allow us to basically have an interactive conversation with fans in the theater," he continued. "It's also going to have the normal historical cars and some of the modern stuff - we're going to have a Car of Tomorrow sitting there so people can understand the difference between this race car and the other race car."

For fans that are new to the sport, Hammond said another area will concentrate on building a good solid knowledge base of the sport.

"We're going to have an area that is Racing 101, that people can go in there and get a better foundation to go off of. You may know who Tony Stewart is, you may know who Kyle Busch is, but you may not know who David Pearson was or who Richard Petty was. So we want to try to marry the past with the present."

Also, budding journalists will get a chance to live out their fantasies of working a race first-hand."We're also going to bring them through there and put them into our new profession, which is the broadcast side," Hammond said. "We're going to have it set up to where you get an opportunity to feel what it's like to be a Speed reporter or a NASCAR on Fox reporter."

And, Hammond said, vacationers who come to area every year can always come back without fear of seeing the same thing over and over again."We're looking to keep it on the cutting edge," Hammond said. "If you came back here in a year's time, it's not going to be the same thing - it's going to be different. It's not just going to be a museum that's going to be the same year in and year out. We want to keep it fresh. It's going to be new, it's going to be different. I've been to so many arcades, museums and fun houses and other venues that are just stale, and I don't want it to be that way."

In addition to the Darrell Waltrip Experience, visitors to Belle Island Village can take in the Debbie Reynolds Hollywood Motion Picture Museum, the Knoxville Zoo's Otter Cove and a projected 90 specialty shops with a range of restaurants, stores entertainment venues.

Information courtesy of The Mountain Press
Image courtesy of Belle Island Village