As you drive through Pigeon Forge, it is impossible to miss the towering observation wheel behind Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show. This attraction, which is located at the Island in Pigeon Forge, is a staggering 200 feet tall and capable of providing over 1,500 rides per hour!
Each ride, which lasts eight to ten minutes, is made up of four complete revolutions of the wheel. During the ride visitors have aerial views of the surrounding mountains and the most visited National Park in the country. Each Gondola has eight seats, but the maximum weight limit of 1,320 pounds allows for approximately six adults. Since the gondola walls are made up of glass, the views are excellent from every seat. The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel has a total of 42 climate-controlled gondolas and operates continuously between 10 AM and 12 AM each day.
Is it a Ferris wheel?
Even though the majority of locals and visitors simply call this attraction the Pigeon Forge Ferris wheel, that verbiage is not technically correct. Modern observations wheels, such as the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel, are much more advanced than plain Ferris wheels. Observations wheels have climate-controlled, fully-enclosed gondolas that can be operated in comfort year-around. In addition, permanent installation makes it possible to build much taller wheels and include more dramatic light shows than typical Ferris wheels would have. This type of wheel is still fairly rare and normally found in scenic tourist areas as well as several high-density European cities.
The VIP Gondola, which can be easily identified by the black exterior, costs $50 per person to ride. This first-class version of the ride contains a plush red leather interior with four (instead of eight) seats inside and a glass floor for enhanced views. In addition to the comfortable ride, purchasing a VIP ticket includes a personal escort to the front of the line and a souvenir bag with gifts.
For $3 extra you can upgrade your single-use ticket to include one daytime ride (before 5 PM) and one night ride (after 5 PM). The nighttime experience provides unmatched views of Pigeon Forge and the light show brilliantly illuminates the wheel!
The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel is located behind the Lumberjack Feud Theater at the Island in Pigeon Forge. Between traffic lights three and four, turn at the Island Drive traffic light.