The Terrifying and Ridiculous Haunted Attractions of Gatlinburg Tennessee

Gatlinburg, Tennessee is a perfect juxtaposition of the sublime and the absurd.   Some of the most beautiful landscape in the nation, haunting views and smoky valleys, cradle silly, black light minigolf  establishments and trashy motels.   Old wood forests lurk just miles away from every manner of silly tourist attraction.  Of course,  I do love the tourist attractions and I'm not going to lie and say I've never played a round or two of black light mini golf, but I do appreciate the irony of situation as a play.

The haunted attractions in Gatlinburg are not so different from the town.  Some are just terrible and silly, others are cheesy and fun, and some are real.   The worst haunted attraction in Gatlinburg has to be a tiny hole in the wall establishment located in between a black light golf facility and a fudge shop.  It is called Hauntings and terrible party city quality ghouls dangle from the front of this cheesy attraction.   Once you go inside it isn't much better.  You are quickly escorted back to a small room.   The entire attraction is in this one room.   The poor quality of the show is made worse by a little hope that you have that something more interesting may happen, but nothing does.   I took my six your old with me to Hauntings and he got tired and fell asleep.  If a ghostly attraction puts a six year old to sleep,  it really needs to rethink itself.

On the other hand,  The Ripley's Haunted House a few blocks a way is actually quite creepy.  I've never really been afraid of the pretend kind of haunted houses.  It's hard to be afraid of what you know is pretend.  Even though it seems like a serial is chasing you with a chainsaw in your heart you know it is just some fool with a leaf blower.   Ripley's Haunted House on the other hand did give me a few moments of pause.   Maybe the actors just caught me unexpected, but I actually jumped a few times.  One fellow came at me from the ceiling and I jumped like a little girl.  I didn't expect that. 

So if you like haunted houses and happen to be in Gatlinburg,  Ripley's is definitely the best fake haunted house.  Of course, if you want real ghosts I still think the Rocky Top Village in is one of the creepiest haunted places I've ever been to.


Pam Morris said…
I think I'll take Ripley's...Rocky Top was fun to read about but don't think I want to experience what you guys did! I'd have to have several glasses of wine....)
Katie said…
I imagine it's because you're seasoned with this sort of thing, but for me personally even when I know something is fake it's just as scary as when it is allegedly or actually real. If the general public wasn't afraid of things they knew were pretend, haunted houses and scary movies wouldn't exist. I understand your perspective though, and I totally know what you mean about lame attractions. Some things are just plain sad, and yea if a CHILD falls asleep it's time to give up the act. We went to Gatlinburg a few years ago, and are thinking of going again soon. This gives me some things to add to our itinerary- thanks much!
Anonymous said…
I've been to Gatlinburg a number of times and I always make fun of the Hauntings attraction. It really looks lame. I've read that a few of the hotels are really haunted.
Jessica Penot said…
MayLove,, I think that is what makes a good haunted house or scary movie,,, when you know its fake and you're still afraid. I was definately afraid in Ripley's and I knew it was fake.

Tina,, Hauntings is just as lame as it looks and there are several haunted hotels there that are very creepy!
Courtney Mroch said…
I couldn't go in any of them. I wanted to. Desperately. But you know the one that's off the main road? (I can't remember the name of the road. On the other side of the river.) It's super cheesy and I couldn't go in there because I got scared! (I just can't take the masks.) But the Ripley's one everyone said was intense. They said if I couldn't go in the cheesy one then Ripley's would do me in. (I know. I'm pathetic!)

Glad you had fun. Another neat post with great pics!
Pale said…
I used to love, love, love haunted attractions when I was a kid. The Wildwood, NJ boardwalk had at least one on every pier and there was a full blown "Dracula's castle" (complete with dungeon ride). And there was Brigantine Castle (long since burned down) up the pike -- way over the top.

When my family finally visited Disney World in Florida, I was so disappointed in the haunted mansion because it was so cartoonish.

I have no idea if those old attractions would hold up for me as an adult (I suspect not). But I am so disappointed that I can't take my own kids to these things when we go to the beach -- they would love them. Unfortunately there was a terrible fire once where people were trapped and died in one of these attractions ... and I think that as a result the ordinances governing public safety changed in such a way that these kinds of attractions are either outlawed ... or the insurance premiums are too high ... something like that. There is only one ride there now ... pirate themed ... and it's just terrible. You wear goggles and it's all glow-in-the-dark cut out illustrations. You can't believe you PAID to ride it.

When I was in grade school in Philly, the graduating 8th grade of my elementary school would raise money every year by doing a haunted attraction -- in the basement of the enourmous gothic, parish church. The location itself was eerie enough ... like a giant crypt. SO fun.

Now even though I live in MI (transplanted against my preferences -- always interested in your MI posts), we go back to the NJ beaches of my childhood in the summer. There may not be haunted attractions on the boardwalk any more, but the town we stay in ... Cape May ... is a place you would LOVE. The whole town is a historical landmark with the largest concentration of Victorian Era buildings in the US. And loads of hauntings. So much fun. I love to read a good paranormal book while I am there.

This author has written four books on local haunts. Great reads.

Anonymous said…
i actually have mybown paranormal research team. i know I'm only 13, but I've seen things and loved hunting for ghosts since I was only 8 years old.
Sursie m. said…
sorry for the typo i have my own paranormal research team. i live in tennesse and i'd love to visit a few cemetarys with my boyfriend.

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