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What is New In The Smokies?

Posted by Leif Palmer in Things to Do

There's an old saying about the weather in the Smokies: If you don't like it, then stick around another five minutes; it'll change. The same could also be said about the continued development of the Great Smoky Mountains communities of Pigeon Forge, Sevierville and Gatlinburg. Yes, there are already dozens and dozens (and dozens) of attractions in place, many of which have been popular for decades. There's certainly no shortage of options for folks looking for something to do outside Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

But that doesn't mean that something newer and shinier isn't around the corner when it comes to Smokies tourism. As is usually the case, plans are in the works for a whole host of new businesses in the area, some of which are already open, some of which are scheduled to make their debuts either later this year or in the next year or two. So if, by chance, your last trip to the Smokies was just more of the same, stick around; we'd like to introduce you to a lineup of new attractions that just might have you making new travel plans sooner than you expected.

Puy du Fou

For those of you who don't speak French, “Puy du Fou” translates to “volcanic hill.” But that has little to do with the new theme park coming to Sevierville some time in 2024. It's a historically-themed venture that will be part of The 407: Gateway to Adventure, a 200-acre development that will be located just south of Interstate 40 in Sevierville/Kodak. Presented in partnership with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the 407 project overall represents an investment of $75 million by tribal leaders, and it is expected to attract as many as 6.7 million visitors per year once phase one is complete.

The original Puy du Fou theme park launched in France in the late '70s and now has a location in Spain as well. They're known for their historical dramatizations, and the parent company will be working with the Eastern Band to create a spectacular and immersive show inspired by the journey of the Cherokee Indians who served in World War I. It's intended to be a patriotic and moving journey that all ages will appreciate.


For those who have managed to avoid traveling on an Interstate highway in the last few years, Buc-cee's is an increasingly popular chain of convenience stores that's based in Texas and gradually expanding throughout the Southeast. One of their centers just opened in Crossville, TN, and another is headed for I-40 at Exit 407, in Sevierville/Kodak. We haven't heard about an opening date lately, but when it does open, the Sevierville Buc-ee's will reportedly be the largest convenience store in the world, measuring a sprawling 74,000 square feet.

However, when we say “convenience store,” we're not talking about your typical quickie mart or even your typical Interstate travel center. Buc-ee's is truly epic in size and scope. The Sevierville location will feature 120 gas pumps, EV charging stations and a 250-foot-long car wash. Inside, as is the case with most Buc-ee's, is everything you would expect from a convenience store and tons more. Their multiple food vendors alone make this brand worth the stop, their retail offerings are mind-boggling, and their restrooms are amazingly immaculate. Staff members are constantly sprucing up the facilities, making a pit stop at Buc-ee's a real pleasure.

Sanctuary Treehouse Resort

While we're talking about new things in the Sevierville area, we'll tell you about this resort, which is expected to open later this summer or in early fall. Billed as the largest treehouse resort in the world, it will be located on a 40-acre tract near Soaky Mountain Waterpark. Now, the plans call for three different types of treehouse rentals to be available at the resort ­- the Tree Fort, the Tree Fort Double and The Luxe. Prices will start at $299 per night. The resort will also feature walking trails, an enchanted forest, in-ground hot tub and a community area showcasing live music and other types of entertainment.

Sanctuary Treehouse Resort is situated on two 18-hole championship golf courses and will offer amazing views of the surrounding property and the mountains beyond. The proprietors are planning to include an impressive slate of amenities and will even include cool features like rope swings, spiral slides, secret ladders, telescopes and more.

SkyLand Ranch

Those who may be familiar with the Anakeesta and SkyLift Park in Gatlinburg will have some idea of what to expect from the new SkyLand Ranch development, which is expected to open to the public this summer. Set on a 100-acre farm in Sevierville, SkyLand Ranch will be accessible by scenic chairlift, which offers transportation to the top of the hill in either a chair or open-air cabin. From there, plans for the ranch call for attractions like a mile-long mountain coaster, a suspended bridge, canopy walks and more. And since it's located on a farm, it's no surprise that guests can interact with a menagerie of miniature animals, including miniature cows and donkeys. There will also be food barns and retail vendors like a candy shop, bakery, souvenir shop, Christmas shop and toy store.

A New Ride At Dollywood?

Just as things are always changing in the Smokies in general, there's always something new at Dollywood theme park as well. Sources say that a new roller coaster is coming to the Wildwood Grove section of the park for the 2023 season. Dollywood hasn't announced anything officially, but Pigeon Forge officials mentioned recently that a “multigenerational roller coaster” would be coming to Dollywood next year. We don't know any specifics about the coaster other than the fact that it won't have any loops or corkscrews and that a water feature will somehow be involved.

Leif Palmer - Smokies blogger

About Leif Palmer

Leif Palmer loves residing in the Smoky Mountains. He is an avid outdoorsman: rowing for exercise on the lake, trail hiking, and free climbing rocks in the mountains. He indulges his arty side by periodically beating up pieces of marble by sculpting. He is always frustrated by his inability to sink long putts, and hates his curly hair (but his wife loves it). Leif has been known to muster enough courage to change a diaper, and hopes his son will become a chip off the old block.


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