This has been a traveling year for us so far! In May, we went to Baltimore for my mother-in-law's 80th birthday; in June, we took the kids to Gatlinburg; in July John and I went to Chicago; in August we spent a weekend in Pigeon Forge; in September we went to Nashville for my cousin's wedding; and this month we are headed to our first Notre Dame football game!
I'm writing today about our little Pigeon Forge vacation, during which we visited the Hollywood Wax Museum and the Castle of Chaos and all the attractions therein. I was provided with free tickets for myself and my family in exchange for my honest opinion.
We did not start our mini-vacation with the Wax Museum, though. We went up on a Friday afternoon, and the first thing we did was go to Joe's Crab Shack for dinner.
John was excited about this crazy drink. We were ALL excited about eating crab.
After dinner, we were able to go next door and play some miniature golf because we still had a ticket left from my review of the Ripleys attractions in June! In fact, we played twice because I got a hole-in-one on the final hole! Then we headed across the street to the motel we had chosen. This vacation did not require much driving once we got to Pigeon Forge (well, I think technically we were still in Sevierville at this point.).
The Oak Tree Lodge fulfilled all Sholly requirements for suitable lodgings and then some. We demand free breakfast, free WiFi, and a pool. This place also had cookies in the lobby, unlimited free arcade games, and an exceptionally friendly staff. Also, the pool was super awesome with the splash pad you see above and a big slide! We made our first trip to the pool before bed, and then the kids and I went back the next morning while John slept in.
Then is was time for the main events of the trip--and the main subject of this review.
We have been curious about this place forever, because you simply cannot miss King Kong looming over the building as you drive down the Parkway.
We decided to start with the Hollywood Wax Museum. We were welcomed by this fellow:
This aerial view is to show you his hand, where all entering parties are told to pose and first smile, them look scared, while they are photographed. At the end of your tour you have an opportunity to view (and purchase!) said photograph.
The exhibits begin in the next room. Let's start with the positives. There are a wide variety of exhibits. Great care has been taken with the setting of said exhibits--actors are dressed as some of their famous roles, with backdrops to match, and even the theme music playing in the background. There are fun little factoids and interactive kiosks posted throughout. Opportunities for interacting with the scenes--including dress-up items--are provided, as you will see in my pictures.
The negatives? Well, here's a big one: a lot of the figures are just BAD. Conspicuously absent from this museum is any explanation of how they make their figures. After having visited Madame Tussaud's in D.C. earlier this year, we were spoiled. Rather than meticulously measuring the models as was described there, it's quite clear that in some displays heads were attached to generic bodies. Now, I have seen worse wax figures. I might have appreciated these more if I hadn't been to Madame Tussaud's first. And they are not all bad by any means. I would say the quality appears to be improving. But I will post some pictures and let you decide for yourselves. Keep in mind that but for one exception (and you will be able to tell which one it is, I assure you) I did not post the worst figures because I didn't feel like photographing them when they didn't look anything like the people they were meant to represent.
Anyone who knows William will understand why this was his favorite part of the museum--and it was also the most well-done part, presumably because it's harder to mess up non-human figures.
Didn't you always wish you could get inside that bottle when you were a child? I know I did.
This was kind of fun since when we visited Savannah we saw the ACTUAL bench and location where this iconic scene was filmed.
And here are some figures on their own. In my opinion, the basketball player's hands are the most well-done thing in this museum. What do you think?
With that, it was time to leave Hollywood for the Castle of Chaos. I'm going to TELL you what we did there, but I can't SHOW you, because the experiences were not conducive to picture-taking. You can see some promotional pictures at my preview post for this review, if you want.
First up was Hannah's Maze of Mirrors. This is the third mirror maze I've been to this year, and it was the best. With mirror mazes, it's a kind of "you've seen one, you've seen them all" deal, and they have worked to change that here. This maze comes with a story--a little movie that you watch at the beginning, which provides a purpose to solving the maze (besides just getting out!). There are also a few additions to the maze itself--musical stairs, a "rotating" bridge, characters appearing in the maze--that make it special. If you want to do a mirror maze, pick this one.
Next we hit up the titular attraction, Castle of Chaos. This was a 5D theatre experience in which we spun about to face various scary scenes. The twist here is that we were armed and got to shoot at them, and our scores appeared on the screen along with our pictures at the end (John shot the most things out of everyone in the theatre!). This was a slightly scary and mildly entertaining attraction. The Ripleys 5D attractions are better if you are looking to experience this kind of thing.
I'm going to rave about the final attraction, though. Outbreak--Dread the Undead was well done and lots of fun. William and I went to this one alone, because Lorelei was scared and John sat it out with her. The premise was that we were going to be doing some clean up of a government experiment gone wrong. Supposedly all the zombies were locked up, but something went wrong . . . We went through several rooms, and there was a combination of models and live actors playing zombies. Per usual, there were jump scares and imitation blood flying. It was just creepy enough and I would do it again.
I hope I've given you enough information to decide which of these attractions you'd like to visit. If you want to hit them all up next time you visit Pigeon Forge, here's a coupon for my readers:
As for the rest of our visit, we ate dinner at our favorite Asian place in Pigeon Forge before returning to the motel for MORE swimming and a good night's sleep before heading back home on Sunday. We have been really enjoying these short weekend jaunts. I want to take the kids to Chattanooga next and look forward to sharing that trip with you.