One of my family’s very favorite travel destinations is the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge, Tennessee area. We’ve visited this area of the Smoky Mountains probably at least a dozen times over the years and enjoyed the many attractions available. Coming in the Fall of 2016 there will be an all-new attraction in Pigeon Forge to explore — the Alcatraz East Crime Museum! Among the exhibits will be the infamous white Bronco that was at the center of the most watched criminal case in history. It belonged to O.J. Simpson, the NFL Hall of Famer that was tried (and aquitted) of the 1994 murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman.
Alcatraz East will be the most arresting crime museum in the United States. Guests of all ages will encounter a unique journey into the history of American crime, crime solving, and our justice system. Through interactive exhibits and original artifacts, Alcatraz East will be an entertaining and educational experience for all ages – so much fun it’s a crime! This family attraction will be located at the entrance of The Island, located at 2757 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN. For more information, visit the Alcatraz East website or check out our demolition video on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thB02zswa4I.
The interactive museum will feature a variety of ways for visitors to learn more about criminal intent, criminal profiles, the penal system, victims’ stories, crime prevention, law enforcement, forensic science, and our justice system. Spread over two floors, the 25,000-square foot museum will include interactive displays on these subjects as well as original artifacts. Artifacts from the museum’s extensive collection that will be on display include John Dillinger’s death mask, Al Capone’s rosary, objects belonging to Bonnie & Clyde, an FBI polygraph machine, Al Pacino’s submachine gun from the movie Scarface, items related to the 2012 Benghazi attack, and the latest in law enforcement technology. The museum’s mission is to provide guests of all ages with a memorable journey into the history of American crime, law enforcement, forensic science, and crime scene investigation (CSI), through an interactive and entertaining educational experience.
There will be 20 different exhibit areas covering five themes for guests to explore; history of American crime, the consequences of crime, crime scene investigation, crime fighting, and pop culture. —– Source: Alcatraz East Crime Museum
O. J. Simpson’s Bronco will join other famous crime artifacts and exhibits at the Alcatraz East Crime Museum, which will be located at 2757 Parkway in Pigeon Forge. The museum will be themed as a 19thcentury prison, and is slated to open fall 2016 at the entrance to The Island, neighboring Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen and Margaritaville Hotel. The museum is owned by John Morgan, who previously owned the Crime Museum in Washington, DC which permanently closed on September 30, 2015, allowing for the creation of a more ambitious attraction than the previous “must-see” DC museum. For more information, visit the site at www.alcatrazeast.com.—– Source: Alcatraz East Crime Museum
I have visited The Island in Pigeon Forge and was very pleasantly surprised at how much there was to do there, since we have previously not spent much time in Pigeon Forge during other visits to the area. Our favorite haunts tend to be The Aquarium and the shops in nearby Gatlinburg, the Cades Cove driving loop, Laurel Falls hiking trail and Chimney Top Picnic area where our kids love playing in the mountain streams. We’ve even driven about an hour away from Gatlinburg to spend the day at River Rat Tubing in Townsend, TN.
Our most recent trip to the area, though, while we did visit The Aquarium and walk the streets of Gatlinburg as usual, we spent some time at The Island in Pigeon Forge. It was so much fun that we didn’t even make it to many of our other favorite places! We did drive the Bypass Road and stop to enjoy the views, drove the Cades Cove trail and walked the streets of Gatlinburg. But, we didn’t spend the day at the Chimney Tops Picnic Area or do much shopping in Gatlinburg or hit many other nearby attractions.
While we waited for our table to be ready at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville Restaurant, we walked around The Island enjoying the beautiful lights of the fountain and the ferris wheel as well as checking out the other eateries and shops. We had to stop into the Sweet! Shoppe, of course, where we were tempted to buy out the store. We bought some candies and my youngest daughter found a cute little stuffed kitty that she just had to have.
The Island is a family-oriented fun zone featuring restaurants, eateries, and food carts. In addition to Margaritaville you can find Dick’s Last Resort restaurant, Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen, Auntie Ann’s Pretzels and 14 more. For shopaholics, there are 35 retailers to choose from such as Ole Smoky Moonshine, Emery’s 5 & 10 (the oldest family-owned five and dime in America), Monogram Boutique, and The Village Idiot among dozens of others. For the young, or just the young at heart, you can enjoy The Great Smoky Fountain Ferris Wheel, The Island Miner’s Gems, a mirror maze, puzzle maze or Arcade City — check out other entertainment options HERE.
If you go and plan on visiting The Island, you may want to make sure you stay nearby because you will definitely need more than one day to explore all of its nooks and crannies. Fortunately, there is a 4-star hotel on the spot in the Margaritaville Island Hotel. We usually book a cabin out in the mountains for our Smoky Mountain getaways, but I think it might be fun to switch it up next time and maybe stay at this hotel. It looks fantastic!
I cannot wait until our next trip to Pigeon Forge so we can head back to The Island to check out some more of the shops and restaurants and get to delve into the Alcatraz East Crime Museum. My life-long fascination with law, crime and the human motivations behind it (which led me to pursue a degree in Criminal Justice in college) has my imagination all abuzz so I definitely can’t wait to see it. And once I do, you better believe I will share my experience with all of you!
What are your favorite things to do when visiting Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, TN? Are you interested in visiting Alcatraz East?
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