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An island getaway in the Smoky Mountains

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Following years of drama ranging from building in a flood plain to bankruptcy a development nestled between the Parkway and Teaster Lane in Pigeon Forge is finally open. Originally planned as “Belle Island Village,” this development is now simply called “The Island in Pigeon Forge.”

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At the center of this new entertainment and retail complex is the 200-foot high “Great Smoky Mountain Wheel.” This monumental Ferris wheel is the tallest thing in the area besides the mountains themselves. Glass gondolas holding up to 8-people take you up to one of the best views in the Smokies. However, you don’t have to take a ride to enjoy this mammoth wheel. At night, the Wheel provides a spectacular light show that can be seen all over Pigeon Forge.

This development is just getting started. Right now the Timberwood Grill and Mellow Mushroom are joined by several gift and specialty shops, a fudge shop, and an arcade. Eventually Ole Smoky Moonshine (of Gatlinburg) plans on opening a restaurant here as does Jimmy Buffett. His Margaritaville restaurant and hotel are set to open early next year. A large synchronized fountain is also opening next year if all goes as planned.

Getting to “The Island” is simple. You will find an entrance from the Parkway (next to the Comedy Barn) and from Teaster Lane near the new Pigeon Forge Convention Center. Parking is free and there is plenty of it. A free shuttle takes you from the parking lot to the plaza on the Island near the “Wheel.” Throughout the week live bands also take the stage at various times to add to the festive atmosphere created here.

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