In the coming year, expect to see more ideas on aerochug.com for great day trips. Meantime, be prepared for changes as new attractions open and others undergo needed improvements.
Dollywood Turns 25 – This theme park started in the mid-20th century but in 1985 became Dollywood. Since its inception the park has become one of Tennessee’s top attractions drawing nearly 2-million visitors each year. For the new season Dollywood adds a new family oriented obstacle attraction called Adventure Mountain to its already great lineup of rides. The Festival of Nations is adding a show called Drum.
A Bigger Splash – As Dollywood celebrates its big milestone its wetter and wilder park adds another reason to come visit. Slick Rock Racer joins the lineup at the award winning water park.
Smoky Mountain Improvements – After celebrating its 75th birthday it’s time for a makeover in parts of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In 2010 many roads, campgrounds and other facilities will undergo extensive renovations. This includes the Cades Cove Loop Road which closes March 1st and won’t re-open until late May. For a complete list of road closures and projects check out the park’s website.
I-40 Re-opens? – At this point, a rockslide continues to block access to I-40 near the TN/NC state line. The slide back in October has forced thousands of travelers to take detours through Hot Springs, NC or to Johnson City and down I-26. For updates on efforts to re-open the road go to NCDOT’s website. In the meantime check out my ideas for great detours around the rockslide.
Titanic Sets Sail – The famed ship of the early 20th Century docks in Pigeon Forge this spring. Dubbed the world’s largest museum attraction, this re-creation of the doomed luxury liner is a hard sight to miss. Adjacent to the Black Bear Jamboree, the Titanic attraction is built to look just like its namesake complete with tall smokestacks and a grand staircase.
Paradise for Penguins – After bringing you exhibits focusing on the Lethal Weapons of the sea and the history of Pirates, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is building a new multi-million dollar exhibit called Penguin Playhouse. This is expected to open in the spring and will feature a variety of ways to get up close and personal with the penguins.
Half-off Zoo Days – The Knoxville Zoo is still open even when the weather is something only Penguins would love. For this normally slow time of the year, the Zoo offers Penguin Discount Days where you get in for half the price through the end of February.
Belle Island Bankruptcy – Work has stopped on this much hyped entertainment, dining and lodging attraction in Pigeon Forge. According to the Knoxville News-Sentinel Regions Bank foreclosed on the property and one of the initial developers believes it will take $30 million dollars more to complete it leaving many to wonder if this huge project will ever become a reality.
Hitting the Trails – Tennessee’s Department of Tourism makes it easier than ever to take the road less traveled. Just go to the website and click on a trail. New ones will be added throughout the year.
More natural wonders – Okay, so there aren’t any changes here, but each season brings with it another reason to revisit some of your favorite spots or check out new ones. Whether it’s the history and beauty of Cumberland Gap National Park, Water Wonders like Fall Creek Falls and Rock Island State Park, or the serenity of Cataloochee there will be plenty of reasons to get out and explore in 2010.