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Friday, January 1, 2010

Tennessee It No More: Magic World in Pigeon Forge




The exciting brochures with their beautifully drawn fun maps really made me want to visit Magic World Kid's Park---the talented map artist did a fantastic job to attempt to make the place seem incredible. I never got a chance to visit (we drove by it), but it seemed to me that in reality, it was more like a mix of crazy miniature golf course decor with some rides. Many people have fond memories of Magic World, and I can totally understand why. It looked like a fun place for a kid to visit.

Magic World had two dark rides: A Haunted Castle Ride and a Magic Carpet Ride. The rides probably contained very simple moving figures.

In 1989, the park added a Dragon Coaster Ride. I'm pretty sure this was a powered coaster and I think I saw a version of this ride at a fair sometime in the last decade.

I don't think Magic World ever pretended to be a big theme park. One of the brochures notes that a great time takes as little as 2 1/2 hours. Sadly, the little park shut down sometime in the 1990s.

20 comments:

  1. I love dark rides....even non-Disney ones! Once again, I would love to know more about this park's dark rides. Hey, did Dolly put this Pigeon Forge park out of business with her park?

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    1. Went there a lot as a kid there was a train car type ride. The car was futuristic looking and you had to guns in it shooting at dinosaurs. Arabian night ride was animatronic it took you above the ground and made you feel like your on a flying carpet. The flying saucer ride didn't move but it showed footage films by a helicopter flying over the Smoky mountains making you feel like you were in the saucer. It was fun.

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  2. Hey TokyoMagic! I'm the same way with dark rides--I love them.

    I found another blog with more information about this park.

    http://quasi-interestingparaphernaliainc.blogspot.com

    The post is from Feb. 10, 2008. For some reason, I cannot copy and paste a link directly to it.

    It has some great pictures of the Haunted Castle and the Magic Carpet Ride. The Haunted Castle looks to be "inspired" by The Haunted Mansion.

    The park also had an animatronic show that looks to be a redressed version of Showbiz Pizza's show. (That reminds me, I have to find my Showbiz Pizza Place stuff to post here).

    Yes, I think Dollywood probably had something to do with the demise of the park. But nobody can be mad at Dolly Parton--she is wonderful!--I saw her on Joy Behar's show yesterday :-)

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  3. I LOVE Dolly. I met her once at her book signing and then again at a CD signing. I'm a fan for life!

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  4. Very cool! She is talented, caring and very smart--a nice representative for us southerners!

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  5. I went here when I was little, about two months before the place closed. It was pretty awesome. I think I was about four or five when I went. I don't remember much about it, but it was probably pretty stupid from the looks of the pictures my mom took.

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  6. Hey Chelsea--Lucky you getting to go there, even if it wasn't exactly thrilling!

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  7. I remember Magic World very fondly. I went many times in my youth with my family. We would go every summer from 88-94 when we moved out of TN and back to NC. I recently found out the summer we went in 94 was the last summer it was open. So I am thankful to have gone their one last time. Sadly I wish I could find more on the park or even some home movies but havent found any. Magic World was an amazing park and if you did get to go you know how much of a good time it really was. I will never forget my time there and really wish I could revisit it just once more.

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  8. Hey Charles! It sounds like I really missed out on a fun place. Thanks for sharing your memories of the park!

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  9. I loved this place as a kid. We used to go every year in the mid 70's to the mid 80's. It was a great park for what it was. The ride I remember most was the flying saucer. It was basically a very large movie theater that played a point of view video to give the illusion that you we're actually flying through the mountains around Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. I think its yet another mini golf course now.

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  10. Hey Rustyinmd, thanks for writing! The flying saucer sounds like a really early version of Disney's Soarin' at California Adventure and Epcot. It's sad that Magic World is gone. You know, with Dolly Parton bringing a new park to the former Opryland, maybe it would be a good idea for her to somehow bring back Magic World to a section of Dollywood in Pigeon Forge.

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  11. Magic World was always a stop on our annual trips to Pigeon Forge. It really was a fun place and we have multiple albums of photos from our visits. The ticket booth in the front was a pirate ship, and entrance was through a cave in a man-made mountain/volcano. Actually, it had various tunnels to roam around in, and the small train ride also went through there. After coming out of the cave and turning left was the haunted castle ride, which had the typical animatronics and what-not. Across from it was a large fish pond (which was later used for bumper boats) and a building that had scenes from scary movies which you could step into and take pictures. The two I remember the best are the large Jaws (have several pictures of my head stuck in its mouth)and the vampire. As you traveled on into the park, there was a split in the path - one way went to a garden of sorts lined with large concrete (?) dinosaurs, and behind it was an antique car ride. The other way went on into the park and past the Confederate Critter Show, which was a Show Biz knock off. The three "critters" were a hound dog, a bear, and a wolf dressed in Confederate garb. They played instruments and sang, as well as interacted with a human performer who roamed the audience dressed as a Yankee soldier. You can imagine what the jokes were like, and who was on the receiving end. The path split again, with the left path heading into an area that had a Middle Eastern theme. This is where the flying carpet ride was. The ride cars hung from the ceiling, and I remember it being scarier than the haunted castle (as least to me). It was an indoor ride and the scenes were supposed to mimic 1001 Arabian Nights or something. I usually close my eyes. This area also had a ball room, and a maze-type building with lots of punching bags hanging from the ceiling. Coming out of that area and heading back toward the front of the park was Merlin's Magic Show. Merlin was sort of the park mascot in the early years. It was a person in a large costume but using the actual performer's hands. It made him looks a little weird. On down the path were some more dinosaurs and cave men, which were later replaced with some carnival-type rides. Close to the front "gate" was a large flying saucer. Inside it, you sat and watched a large screen that showed a movie meant to look like you were leaving the park and flying over the mountains. It was later torn out and more carnival rides and a large rope climb were added. This is where the dragon coaster mentioned above was located. The park was beginning to show its age and was in a steep decline years before Dolly Parton bought Silver Dollar City and made it her own. Knowing Pigeon Forge as I do, I would imagine the potential money made from selling the property was worth far more than investing in the park to keep it afloat. It was also pretty landlocked, making expansion nearly impossible without acquiring expensive nearby property. The park was located between what is now Professor Hacker's Lost Treasure Mini-Golf and the Fly-Away indoor skydiving on down the parkway. Fly-Away was there at the same time as Magic World, and part of the park (the haunted castle area) sat on the hill behind it. A Hardee's now sits near where the pirate ship entrance was.

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  12. Sounds like a fun time at Magic World, Skip Dawg! Thanks for sharing more information about the place. I really should have found a way to get there at some point. I know that the park had many fans. It's a shame it did not survive. It would be nice if that Hardee's in Pigeon Forge had a Magic World Memorial Play Park.

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  13. I worked at magic world from 87-89, it was a great place to work during the summer.

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  14. Hey Kevin Hiltn---it sure looked like a fun place to work! I can remember going shopping with my parents near the park and longingly looking at Magic World.

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  15. Hey Dan--

    I'm a kid of the 70's and I remember going to Magic World when it was very simple--the first part was a walk through a blue "volcano" that featured dioramas behind glass. I don't think they even moved, but I remember one of them being the Abominable Snowman. The second big part of the park at the time was a ride on a small replica train, where kids could take potshots at plaster dinosaurs and other creatures that you passed on the way. I don't remember many details aside from that, but I was sad to see Magic World go.

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  16. Hey timber! Thanks for the Magic World memories! Wow, I had no idea the Abominable Snowman was at Magic World. That place had everything!

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  17. It's funny seeing all of these "fond memories" posts of Magic World. This place was a hole. My parents took me there in 1990. The magic carpet ride's dialogue was in a foreign language, half of the cars to a lot of the rides were removed and just laying in random parts of the park. They had Chucky Cheese style ball pit that I almost dove into before my mother stopped me (told me that the balls were filthy). On top of that, the ride that looks like a spider (think they call it the Monster), had a girl throw up next to me.

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  18. Hey Nick Rewind! If I had gone to Magic World, I wonder if I would have shared your opinion. As a kid, I was often accused of being "too negative" but I always thought I was being "realistic." Thank you for writing!

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  19. Magic World was our number one destination when my family went to the Smokies in the late 80s, early 90s. It was so exciting to enter the park through the mountain and walk behind the waterfall, keeping an eye on the creepy abominable snowman. I don't remember all of the attractions, but I do remember climbing on and rolling down the nets in the rope climb, riding the dragon coaster and especially the magic carpet ride.

    The magic carpet ride was fascinating to me, because there were multiple scenes and for each scene, the ride either raised slightly or the floor stepped down (I can't remember which), and the figures in the scene got smaller. At the beginning of the ride, you were in the thick of the bazaar with life-size mannequins and the accompanying din of foreign language (a nice touch of realism, not a negative point, I thought). By the end, the figures were miniatures and I think there were fake clouds below the "flying carpet" and the only soundtrack was the sound of wind. I thought it was very well thought-out for a children's ride. Perhaps if I could ride it today I wouldn't be nearly as impressed, but I will always remember it fondly.

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