In this review of Pigeon Forge I will only hit the main points being establishments and general atmosphere of the area. First of all we were attending a conference at the same hotel we stayed in which was the Music Road Resort Inn. My wife and I arrived, along with our 2 children, to a very pleasant room at first glance. As we unpacked we noticed a few bits of trash left behind such as beer caps around the beds but nothing drastic.
After unpacking we decided to hit up some place to eat. We drove the strip and decided on Carino’s Italian Restaurant. As we parked there were roughly only 5 cars in the entire parking lot. We were promptly waited on and seated. About 15 minutes pass and we start getting ill since we have a 1 and 4yr old who are cranky from a already delayed lunch. The hostess reappears and asks if we had been waited on yet, which the answer was no, at which time she proceeded to locate our server. My wife ordered a $11.99 pasta bowl, I ordered a $12.99 pasta bowl, and our 4yr old ordered a kid’s pizza. My wife and I also added 2 salads to our meal at $3.99 each along with 4 drinks, I’m not sure on the cost as it’s not listed on the ticket or their website. Note that we have ate here before and it was fantastic! The bread arrives and both children are digging in from being so hungry from the trip. Our salads arrive and they were very tasty as our previous time before. I take a few bites and ask my 4yr old daughter if she would like it instead as she’s asking where her food is. She declined and stated “I don’t want to get too full for my pizza”. A few moments pass and our pasta bowls arrive and the server states to my wife that her plate is very hot, but doesn’t say the same to me, which should have been a clue. The server politely states our daughters pizza will be ready in just a few moments. My 4yr old goes back to eating bread and we start eating. My very first bite indicates a very cold dish, which was meant to be hot. Between eating and cutting up little bites for our 1 yr old we notice there’s still no pizza. My wife is getting upset as is our 4yr old. Again our server reappears and states the pizza was burnt and they have to start over. By this time everyone else is through eating and our 1yr old is getting cranky from being in a high chair. We are the type that respects those around us trying to enjoy their dinners and will do what ever it takes to keep our kids polite and respectful, but with a 1yr old that’s easier said than done. Another 15 minutes pass and the pizza arrives on a cold plate. My daughter eats one piece, which was small and just asks me to find a togo box. Now this is coming from a 4 YEAR OLD. I ask for a box and check. The check arrives at the sum of $55 before tip. I gave a 10% tip but was quite confused on the following figures:
- $12.99 Pasta Bowl
- $11.99 Pasta Bowl
- $5.29 Kids Pizza
- $3.99 Salad
- $3.99 Salad
- $13.23 Four drinks
Four drinks cost more than anything we ordered and it was 2 teas and 2 milks….
After dinner we head to the Three Bears General Store so the kids can see the bears. Our children both loved the store but the prices, oh man the prices! $20 for a $9.95 frozen umbrella on amazon, but what’s a father to do since I stated she could have one item if she behaved. We get to the bear section, walk up to the counter and the attendant asks “you wanna try and see some bears….?” I thought to myself “does this mean if I pay we may just be standing around with rotten apples looking at a log and some rocks….”, but I didn’t. We paid and off we went to see 3 bears which 2 were asleep. The fattest bear of them all was already out front standing on 2 legs with his or hers mouth open waiting. The kids really enjoyed it and that’s a score in our book. We also played the arcade on the top floor. We won right at 500 tickets and waited around forever for someone to show up so we could cash them in on a prize or two. My wife finally went and found someone after 3 people that worked there just looked at us and kept on walking. All in all I say stop to see the bears, buy some fudge and keep on trucking.
Back to the hotel we go! We all unwind from the trip up and trip around town. Morning comes and I get bit on the leg first thing. I text my wife who states she was bitten twice. A call to the front desk and a swarm of people later they stated everything was fine. Easy for them to say as I’m the one with a huge spot on my leg that itches! Seriously though they took it very serious and had a fast response time. The manager noted behind the bed was very nasty and some candy was found. Maybe an ant or something bit us they stated but who knows.
Day 2 included the free breakfast which wasn’t near as good as the year before. Microwavable bacon, frozen biscuits and processed baked goods is all I could see but hey it was free. Lunch time rolls around and I call in an order to go at the Cracker Barrel just up the street. I ordered the grilled chicken that was paper thin, hash-brown casserole which was dried out, and cold mac & cheese. My wife ordered a chef salad which they forgot so she had to go back and our 4yr old wanted shrimp with mac & cheese.
Class ended for the wife so we decided on trying Big Daddies Pizza for supper. We arrived to only 2 tables of people inside the restaurant and both were together. The hostess asked where we would like to sit which we stated inside. She looked at the seating chart for quite sometime and debated over and over. Keep in mind what I stated before… there were ONLY 2 tables of people inside the WHOLE restaurant. At this time my wife tells them what ever is easier we will take. She finally seats us inside. We ordered Tea which we had to send back and 6 bread sticks which dipped in their marinara sauce was fantastic. The kids are being great and the 1 yr old is loving the bread sticks. We also ordered the 10inch Mamma Mia pizza which stated the following “Fresh” ingredients. Marinara sauce, mozzarella-provolone blend, pepperoni, Genoa salami, Italian sausage, prosciutto, green peppers, roasted red onion, black olives and mushrooms. Now I’m going to break this down for you in the nicest possible way. The dough, sauce, pepperoni, mushrooms and cheese was great but I saw no salami, 1 sliver of red onion, 1 sliver of green pepper, a couple pieces of olives, the prosciutto was salty, tasted nothing like real prosciutto and the sausage tasted great but maybe only a table soon was on the whole pizza. Oh and the pizza was cold… From a 550 degree wood brick oven to our table COLD. Did I mention that for 4 drinks, 6 bread sticks and a 10 inch pizza, that’s half the size of the monitor I’m typing this on, it was $38 and some change. On an exiting note when we left there was only 1 other table behind us but at the door there were 8 people waiting to be seated with menus IN THEIR HANDS because of the wait. What the hell is wrong with that picture!
UPDATE – I would like to add here since I can’t on tripadvisory that the owner responded to my review. He states they have no freezers and that I couldn’t find the salami due to all the other ingredients piled on. First I didn’t say you had freezers and next I would give anything to have taken a picture of our small pizza because I can assure you it had very little toppings. A sliver of onion and pepper a quarter size of my pinkie and to taste the Italian sausage I had to get what few crumbs fell off one piece to put on another. My daughter only wanted a cheese pizza and I removed 2 pepperonis and a mushroom. So please don’t tell me something you are not aware of.
Off the the Big Top Arcades we go. We had visited this place before and knew the kids would love it. Everything is played from a credit card they issue from a machine soon as you enter the building. I still had mine from a previous year which worked so I just reloaded it from the machine which takes both cash or credit cards! It’s a very simple process. As we entered we were greeted by their wonderful staff. About an hour later, $110 in video games, memories, stuffed animals, balls and aired up pink guitars we are happy happy happy.
Sweet frogs for some desert, why yes I do believe so. Our 4 yr old enjoyed picking her own ice cream and toppings. They sale by weight here and the price is always great for what you get.
Back to the hotel to prepare for our final day and voyage home. One of the other people attending class informed my wife that you can request an extended stay. We thought that would be fantastic seeing as how we wouldn’t have to load everything up the night before since her class ended at noon and checkout is at 11am. She ran by the front desk and asked if we could pay for an additional 2 hours. The staff stated she would have to check back in the morning when a manager is here. I told my wife to go ahead and let’s load everything we can in case they say no, which they did and not in a polite way the next morning. Good thing this guy thinks ahead! The manager rudely stated to my wife that there was no way as they have a high turn over. Funny thing is the person that told her they could do this had no problem getting an extension. Go figure. I still ended up making two trips to the car which wouldn’t be bad but we had to park on the far end of the hotel, which by the way is about 100 feet from a Motel 6 that just so happened to have a meth lab and lots of police at it on our last night, then walk all the way to the other end where the only elevators are located and then again walk all the way down the hall to our room. So really one trip to the car means I walked the length of the building twice. Anyways as I’m checking out the 2 staff members at the front desk were arguing over paperwork and looked at me standing there several times. By the time they stop complaining I’m starting to get ill as I’m still carrying stuff to the car and here I stand just waiting on the bickering to stop. It’s pretty bad when a 4yr old says she’s ready to get out of here.
As we are leaving rod run is starting. Let me just add my 2 cents here based solely on opinion as I am not big into cars. There were cars EVERYWHERE and EVERY SINGLE ONE of them is FOR SALE. I have come to the conclusion that everyone at rod run hates their cars and wants to sell them at 500% markup. I saw cars that go for 2-3k at home going for $52k here. Well maybe not going but trying to be sold for that much. There’s lot of traffic and people walking around as expected. Some not so bright as I witnessed people “pushing” bikes right out into main traffic because they couldn’t wait for the light.
In closing I find it very odd that all the main restaurants listed in the flyers and coupon books never have many people eating there, the prices are marked up nearly 200% over a normal restaurant you would find at home, and they get confused when more that 2 tables are in the restaurants. Going to Gatlinburg is a complete different experience. They are busy, staff is hustling to get you in, served and prices are reasonable for what you get and how you’re treated as well as the quality of food. On a previous trip we ate at Bubba Gumps which was fun and a little sandwich shop above a meat and cheese store tucked away in an ally. Let me tell you that the sandwich shop only had maybe 6 tables, all were full and the food was fantastic. Made to order and even the local police were there eating.