|Address:||1001 Parkway #2, Gatlinburg, TN 37738, USA|
|Working:||9:30AM–8:30PM 9:30AM–8:30PM 9:30AM–8:30PM 9:30AM–8:30PM 9:30AM–8:30PM 9:30AM–8:30PM 9:30AM–8:30PM|
This was probably the most disappointing place in all of Gatlinburg. The whole experience starts off with a tram ride that is slightly better than terrible. You buy your ticket in place that looks very nice and is well air-conditioned. This is where the pleasantness stops and the horror show begins. We followed the signs to enter the tram ride. It was here we found out there was an hour wait to get on. Surprise no air-conditioning while waiting for the tram. Only someone with a twisted sense of humor would not air-condition a section of a building that has air-conditioning everywhere else. My family and I stuck it out. We thought to ourselves, this must be pretty awesome if everyone else is willing to put up with this torture. No exaggeration, it was HOT! We marveled as we watched someone actually pass out in line from the heat. Still, we persevered and continued on our journey. Finally onto the tram we went. They are proud to tell you that the trams hold 120 people. But cmon, just because you can do something doesnt mean you should do it. They crammed 120 people onto that tram. What a miserable ride...also not air-conditioned. Have you ever been in an 8x15 box with 120 people that just baked in their own juices for the past hour? I have and I can testify that it makes the ride miserable. I have way more respect for my wife. I now know what morning sickness is like. Every which way I turned and smelled made me want to vomit. It did however start to cool off when we got towards the top of the mountain. Fresh air filled my lungs and hope started to fill my soul. That is until I exited the tram into a tiny mall filled with shops that more resembled a flea market than a vacation destination experience. I dont swear much but in front of both my parents, my wife, and my 8 year old son I blurted, "What the F*@# !" But they were so in shock too at the level crappiness they didnt even notice. We would have left immediately but there was another long wait for the tram back down, this time it was internal dialogue, "F*@#!". My family and I found some seats that over looked the sad ice rink. Puddles had formed on the ice from the temperatures being too warm. It also appeared the ice had not been smoothed out in quite a while. This was not surprising it just made me sad that this place had such potential and turned out to be a mushy turd sandwich. After sitting for a few minutes, rehydrating, and stretching our legs we decided to get off this sad sad mountain. Again we find ourselves waiting in line in a wing that does not have air-conditioning. Im not sure how they got that section so hot. It was 70 degrees everywhere else in in the building, 72 degrees outside, and 85 degrees in the line to wait for the tram. Lucky us, the wait down was half the time of the wait going up. So another 30 minute wait for freedom from this nightmare. When we neared the front of the line I was enraged by the fact that the employees would shut the doors to the loading area and stopping any fresh air from entering the waiting area. Even they got to wait outside in the nice cool air while we sweat our assess off in line. So yeah 1 star. Obviously not going back. Do yourself/family a solid and find something else to do. Unless you want to play the game Guess who made that smell... Then this is definitely the place you want to be.
Öber Gatlinburg is quite possibly the most surreal place Ive ever been to. Imagine being somewhere 20 years in the future, but in a facility trying to replicate the early 90s. Between the apparent obsession Öber has for Nesquik products and the bizarre sled ride down the mountain, I hardly know where to begin in explaining this place. When you walk in, everything just feels off. Either polka music or pop songs are playing at all times, theres a small ice skating rink in the middle of the building, and there is a shop stacked to the ceiling with only deluxe tabletop puzzles for sale. Upstairs, you can use your last name to find your family crest in a big book, as well as a myriad of US Military badges and pins and flags for no apparent reason (all in the same cramped little store). There is literally an arcade center called "Redemption", and inside is a game at the very back with a sign on it warning potential physical injury to any who dare pay for it. The ski lift ride to the top of the mountain is like the beginning of some wilderness horror movie. There are two lift tracks- one that takes people up and down the mountain, and one that is solely used for carrying the sleds back up the slope. All of the seats on that one are broken and only add to the oddity of it all. Its creaky ride (although presumably a sturdy one) to the top of the mountain, and you might just be lucky enough to hear a live bluegrass band playing in the corner of the platform. A picture of you riding the lift is taken once you reach the end, and that picture may be purchased for a reasonable price of twenty-three dollars per photo. I wont even mention the mountain sledding because simply riding up the ski lift and looking down at the haunted faces of those sliding miserably slowly on the track is enough to make anyone steer clear of that particular ride. Finally, there is an "Animal Encounter" exhibit outside that houses bears, birds of prey, wildcats, and nocturnal animals. Everything Ive written about so far has actually been more amusing than outright negative, but Im serious when I say that this so-called animal habitat makes me sick. The area with the bears is miniscule and so sterile that even the wooden trees are fake, and the animals are surrounded by a concrete wall that they cannot see over as you look down. The wildcat we saw was pacing in the same circle in the corner of his cage, which not only shows his extreme anxiety at being so close to yelling children, but also how enclosed he was in such a small container. The birds of prey were in a similar condition. There were too many birds in each little caged area, and none of them seemed healthy. The whole center didnt even look like it should still exist, and not a single animal was happy. Overall, my Öber experience was like a walk through limbo; it was like having an existential crisis for four hours while drinking an $8 beer from a boot (they were celebrating Oktoberfest...). All in all, I might just go back to take pictures and question my purpose on earth. The two things that hinder me from doing that though are: 1) The Extreme Prices For Everything and 2) The Disgusting Wildlife Center Please dont come here unless youre there to write a horror novel about a portal to another dimension or to free the animals.
Now dont get me wrong, I love me some Over :) and its really more of 3.5 stars. The gondola tram ride is by far the best part. It goes well up the mountain. Farther than you can even see from the bottom. Its a 10-15 minute ride. Thats honestly the best part, and sometimes I do only that and just ride it back down. The downside is everything is an upcharge. They do offer a $20 "do it all" or rather, do 3 things. You can do the alpine slide, scenic chairlift and carousel for that. The alpine slide is fun in the winter. And you control your speed, which is pretty fast. In the winter the chairlift takes you to the very top of the mountain. That takes about 15 minutes with no line. Its nice to look everything over. The downside though is we went just to really do that, so were just in jeans. And the seats were still a bit snow covered so we ended up with wet butts by the end. Theres a nice scenic overlook, and refreshments available. A band plays up top in the warm months. Then you take it back down and enjoy the sites. Its actually pretty nice. The snow tubing was sorely lacking it was maybe 100 meters long at absolute most! We thought about it but you could only purchase time by the hour and a half. It wasnt worth it as an adult. Kids for sure. Not sure how the skiing is, but it looked nice and they were constantly cleaning the runs to flatten them out. They have their own separate chair lifts for those. You could also ice skate indoors. It seemed a decent size rink. Theres a mountain coaster as well, but it wont be open if the blowers for the fake snow are or were recently running. The carousel they advertise is anything but. Its a kiddy carousel with like 6 horses on it. I was excited for a full size one but was glad I didnt buy tickets for it after I saw it. Theres some kitschy souvenir shops up top, as well as a snack bar and restaurant. Walking to the restaurant and bathrooms though, you have to walk through the main skiier area and omg does it reek of sweat and bo. I completely lost my appetite just walking through there. So its not a horrible place, more family oriented, especially preteens. The team is totally worth it. The rest is just based on your level of seeing snow daily, or rarely.