road trip travel Uncategorized

Pandemic Road Trip Day 4

I can’t think of a better way to start off the day 4 of our Pandemic Road Trip than having a cup of coffee in the shadow of the Smokey Mountains. While cell service sucked for me. The views of the surrounding mountains made it worth having little service. There is just something peaceful about having a cup of coffee on a balcony with rushing water below and mountains every which way you look.

So today was the day my daughter was waiting for. Today we go to the TITANIC Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge. I must say it does look pretty cool and most of the reviews were favorable. I wasn’t too sure what else was still planned for the day but I knew it would be a lot of walking today. Plus we wouldn’t be driving far today.

To think that I almost canceled my reservation tonight for the Baymont hotel we are staying in. The other day I was thinking that I would just hit up the TITANIC Museum Attraction and one or two other places and then head off to Asheville, NC. However, the Gattlinburg-Pigeon Forge area is worth a couple day stay. Sadly I would be back on the road tomorrow but we were about to make the most of today.

Pigeon Forge

First stop of the day was to the TITANIC Museum Attraction. It was a nice drive through Pigeon Forge. I can tell you this. I am much happier that I picked a place in Gattlinburg to stay at than in Pigeon Forge. While Gattlinburg doesn’t have any Fast Food places. Pigeon Forge has them lined up and down the road.

Much of Pigeon Forge looks very “tacky” to me. Walking down the street last night in Gattlinburg was enjoyable and nothing in the area felt tacky. Pigeon Forge looks like it is made just with tourist in mind. While Gattlinburg has more of a locals in mind kind of feel. I don’t know that’s just how it feels to me.

So we made it to the TITANIC Museum Attractions. Traffic getting here wasn’t bad but than again it was around 08:30 am. The place didn’t open until 9 am so we had a little time to kill. Now they do have a pretty big recreation of the ship. It does make for a great photo or two. Just if you go in the morning you will be looking at the sun as you get your picture taken.

My daughter just thought this was the coolest thing. She did give me the biggest smile (with her eyes closed). She was hoping the water was cold since there was an Iceberg in the water. Sadly, in that Tennessee sun nothing was staying cold for long.

About 10 minutes before they opened we made our way to get in line. There were a couple other groups getting in line so I figured we should too. Now I knew you could buy tickets online but I didn’t really think I would need to. I was right we didn’t need to purchase our tickets online to make sure we had a spot for today. Of course, that wouldn’t have hurt either.

Now they were running some kind of special that day so I got my ticket for free. I am a veteran and I almost always ask if they have a veteran discount. On this day the TITANIC Museum Attraction was letting Veterans visit for free. I can tell you I am happy I didn’t buy my tickets online. Otherwise I would of never known that. That is one of the main reasons why I don’t order tickets online before I go somewhere. Most places don’t let you know if they have a military discount if you purchase tickets online ahead of time.

Now right when you are getting in line for your boarding time, you are handed a boarding pass. This pass has the name, class, and age of a passenger on Titanic. They have a set for adults and a set for children. Throughout the museum you can find information about your passenger and find out if they survived or died.

My daughter got 2nd Class Passenger Eva Hart age 7. I was given Thomas Whiteley Saloon Steward to First Class Passengers age 18. Just reading the back of the card give you a lot of important information. So we headed inside to learn more about “us” and all the other passengers on the RMS Titanic.

Do you know what RMS stands for? I didn’t until today. RMS stands for Royal Mail Ship. All these years I never knew what that stood for. To be honest I never really given it too much thought either. It just goes to show you that you learn something new every day.

Now my biggest complaint with the museum is not pictures or videos. Only certain things can you take photos of. It has something to do with copyright issues. I wish we could of either gotten a picture of the Grand Staircase or if they would have at least had someone there to take a picture of us.

Overall the museum was nice to walk through. It had a lot of different artifacts from the ship. Reading and listening to the different stories was amazing. If you are ever in the Gattlinburg-Pigeon Forge area I would put a visit here on my list.

It was a fun experience following along with your passenger seeing what life was like for them. Seeing the many different artifacts was amazing thing that I know my daughter will remember for years to come. That’s even without many photos. We spent a little over an hour and a half walking through the museum and gift shop. You can do it much quicker or slower.

One thing to note is they do make sure everyone has a mask on. However, it is up to you to keep your distance from other groups. We didn’t have a problem social distancing or with wearing a mask.

Our next stop was the the Hollywood Wax Museum. My daughter has never been to one so I figured why not check this one out. It was right down the street from the TITANIC Museum Attraction and looked like it would be a good way to kill and hour or two.

Now out front before you enter they have mask for you to put on if you don’t have your own. Mask must be worn at all times unless you are taking a picture. There is also a two minute timer when you first enter. They take your picture with King Kong than you have to wait for the timer to run out for your group to enter. It’s a great way to help maintain that distance from one party to the next.

Now I must say I was a tad bit disappointed. Most of the wax figures looked pretty good.

Some did not.

The only other issue I personally had was it doesn’t seem like they updated any information since the early 2010’s. As for my daughter who is under 10 didn’t know most of actors. She did know some but I am going to say it was less than 50%. Overall, she had a good time.

Now this is no Madame Tussauds but it is still a good experience. If you’ve never been to a wax museum it is interesting to see. If you have younger children I would probably skip this one and go to a Madame Tussauds on instead. Another big down side is you can’t touch the figures like you can at Madame Tussauds. I’m not sure if that is just another Covid restriction or not.

Either way it was still fun but I’ve already done it so I won’t have to do it again. The Titanic museum I would visit again. The Hollywood Wax Museum is a one and done for me.

Now we where heading back to the hotel to park the car and explore more of Gattlinburg.

Gattlinburg

It was around early afternoon and we were both hungry. We didn’t really eat breakfast so we could definitely use a good meal. Now we were suppose to be in Orlando at this time. But with the current Pandemic going on and Florida being a hot spot I didn’t trust going to Orlando, Universal Studios or even Walt Disney World.

Now for the past couple of years my daughter and I have gone to Bubba Gump’s while in Orlando. They have a Bubba Gump’s on Universal CityWalk. Well it turns out Gattlinburg has a Bubba Gump’s too. We couldn’t have our normal August Florida trip but we could at least bring a part of it to Tennessee.

The service was quick. The servers all had mask on. The food was hot and delicious. We couldn’t ask for much more. If you never been to a Bubba Gump and you like seafood you should give them a try. Just make sure you brush up on your Forrest Gump knowledge. The servers will come around and ask you some trivia questions. It really is a lot of fun.

Right next door to Bubba Gump is the Hollywood Star Cars museum. Get up close and personal to some of the most famous cars in movies and TV. This is another take it or leave it kind of place. While I thought it was cool. My daughter didn’t care for it.

My phone had died at this point so we headed back to the hotel to get a change of clothes and charge my phone. It was 90+ out and high, high humidity. It didn’t take long to get soaking wet with sweat. Oh how I DON’T miss the summers down south. Of course, the summers in PA aren’t much better.

We were only at the hotel for about an hour. We cooled down a little charged up the phone a little and got ready to hit the town again. Next stop was Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.

Now this aquarium has been voted the best aquarium in the US. While it was pretty cool I wouldn’t say it was the best. But it’s definitely up in the top 5.

Just like every other major attraction we visited so far on our Pandemic Road Trip, Ripley’s too required you to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. They also have an active and veteran military discount so don’t forget to ask. It was 50% for me and 30% for my daughter’s ticket. You can’t beat that at all.

Now some things were not available at the aquarium due to local laws dealing with Covid-19. The playground area was closed. Touching horseshoe crabs and jelly fish was also unavailable at this time. However, you could try a touch a sting ray. Maybe it was because you could pay money for food to feed them. So I am willing to say if they didn’t have the feeding option this would be unavailable too.

Now the high light here for my daughter and I was the shark tunnel. Almost any aquarium you go to has a shark tunnel. But this one is unique. First off it is long. Like really long.

You can walk or ride the belt. It takes some time to get through the whole thing too. All the while you have sharks going over top of your head and swimming next to you.

I must say that this is the BEST shark tunnel I have been to so far on my different adventures. It was really long that you didn’t get a feeling like you would miss something. Some places you take four steps and you are already outside of the tunnel. Not here.

I want to say it took 10 minutes to get through. I could be wrong and maybe it was only 5 minutes. All I know is it took some time to travel along the shark tunnel and it was a fun, interesting, and amazing experience. I almost went back through for a second go around.

I should be doing a full review on the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies soon. So make sure you are following me so you know when that post goes live.

https://www.facebook.com/kozmophotos/

Of course my phone died again at this point. Good thing I remembered to bring the portable charger. So I let it charge a little while we were exploring Gattlinburg.

Since this was our last day in Tennessee we went to go do a little shopping. So many different and unique places along the main strip in Gatlinburg. There was the Mountain Mall. It had four stories if I can remember correctly and filled with a bunch of neat little places.

We went into a bunch of t-shirt shops, souvenir stores, and like nick knack shops. My daughter was so excited when she found her name on a picture frame. Now she doesn’t have an odd name. Hell a few movie stars have her name with the same spelling. Just for what ever reason we can never find her name on necklaces, key chains or the like.

However, one of these souvenir shops had her name and she was thrilled. I just kept hearing “daddy, daddy, can we please get it”. Of course I was going to pick it up for her. It’s not everyday we find something with her name on it.

Now it was starting to get around dinner time. It was around 6 pm and we wanted to get some food. Now a place I’ve been wanting to check out was Ole Red. However, the wait was again 45 minutes or longer. Maybe we should of went here for lunch but oh well.

We just walked heading towards Bubba Gump since we seen a few places that looked like they might be good. Of course all had long waits or you had to sit at the bar. While I don’t mind sitting at the bar myself. I didn’t want to take my daughter up there.

My daughter than saw a pizza place. My first thought was no way am I going to get pizza in Tennessee. I’ve had pizza all over the US and by far the best pizza is in the Northeast. Philly and New York has the best pizza you will ever eat.

The south does not. Up until this point I have never found a decent pizza anywhere south of Virginia. The name of this place also made me a little worried.

Yep, the place was called the Mellow Mushroom Pizzadelic Experience. The name cause a little concern. However, the atmosphere inside was nice. It wasn’t busy at all which I didn’t find to be that big of a surprise. The restaurant was also HUGH. Plus the AC felt so good.

Now like I said I was a little concerned with ordering pizza at a place that is going to give me a “pizzadelic” experience. I must say that I was very surprised.

I ordered a meat lovers pizza. I figured worst case I would just pick off the meat. After my first bite I know that I didn’t need to do that. The crust and sauce had a delicious taste. The pizza wasn’t soggy or burnt. It had a good amount of cheese, sauce, and meat. Overall it was good.

Was it as good as a pizza from my home town? NO, not at all. But it also wouldn’t be the worst either. That’s saying a lot. I would come here again when I revisit Gatlinburg. My daughter ended up getting the Mac and Cheese. I was expecting Kraft Mac and Cheese.

But it wasn’t. This was some of the most cheesy mac and cheese I have seen served on a kid’s menu in a long time. My daughter loved it. She ate it all up and wanted more. She ended up stealing some of my crust from my pizza. She gave this place two thumbs up and so do I.

The Mellow Mushroom in Gatlinburg is worth a stop for lunch or dinner. I didn’t have high hopes for this pizza place but it did blow me away.

After dinner we went to play a little mini golf. It was another one of my daughter’s request. I wanted to go to Hillbilly Golf and she wanted to go to Treasure Quest golf. Guess who won…..

Yep she won. I think the only reason she wanted to go to Treasure Quest Golf was because it was closer. The plus about this place over Hillbilly Golf is that Treasure Quest Golf is located inside. It did feel good to be out of the sun.

Both of us already have wicket tans. Getting out of the sun for a half hour or so wouldn’t hurt our tanning efforts. Our little golfing experience was fun. She really needs to work on her putting game. She is getting better each time we go so there is that. But as time goes on I think I am getting worse.

Oh well it was still a fun day. Tomorrow is day five and the plan currently is to had to Asheville North Carolina and hit the Blue Ridge Parkway and travel it all the way to the Skyline Drive in Virginia. We also are planning on finding a campground along the way and camping overnight.

After all, the car is packed with our camping gear and we haven’t been able to use it yet. Hopefully that changes tomorrow night.

Let us know if you have ever visited the Pigeon Forge – Gatlinburg area? Would you try a place called Mellow Mushroom for pizza? Be sure to let us know in the comments below. We also would love to hear any suggestion you have on places we should visit next.

As always, please remember to follow us on our different social media accounts. It helps you so you know when our next post goes live. You never know what the next guide might be about. Don’t forget to follow our travel board on Pinterest for all your travel needs.

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