16 Hours in Sevierville, Tennessee: A Failed Birthday Trip
Updated: May 17, 2019
I have traveled to Gatlinburg, TN on many occasions. Mostly for youth rally's with our church in Little Rock when I was a teen, but also just for weekend family vacations.
For my husbands 13th year of turning 20, he decided that this year he'd love to visit Gatlinburg again for his annual birthday trip. This was great because his mom was visiting that week, and she could go have fun there with us!
So last Thursday (February 28th), after picking Pam up (his mom) from the airport in Lexington, we made the 3 1/2 hour journey to Sevierville, TN, where I had booked an awesome looking hotel, Wilderness at the Smokies.
I had passed this lodge many times during my trips to Gatlinburg, and since we had a 4 day weekend, I decided to stay one night here before staying the other 2 nights in Gatlinburg, where we'd spend the remainder of our trip going to the greatest local attractions we could find.
We reached Wilderness at the Smokies at about 4:30pm, and quickly got checked into our pool side room on the 3rd floor of the main building in River Lodge. The check-in staff at the front desk made it super easy to check out, and explained everything about the hotel, the water park, restaurants....etc. They then proceeded to send me to a second counter, where I would get my parking pass.
I'm gonna stop right there.
This is one of the issues I had with this stay. Their "change desks to go get your parking pass" ploy was a marketing ploy to pressure you into buying into their timeshares. Thankfully, I had checked "not interested" on their website when I booked the room, so I wasn't eligible to take the tour. Unfortunately, I had to sit through the whole spiel before they figured this out.
So, just a heads up!
We then got up to our room, which at first glance was awesome! We had a "Bunk bed" which was actually a twin sized bed with a queen bed underneath, and then on the other side of the wall, there was another queen bed and pull out couch bed. I also rather enjoyed the fact that we had a balcony! Then I realized our "pool side" room was pool side to the outdoor waterpark, which of course is closed with it being February. That one was probably a misunderstanding on my part, but just another heads up, If you're looking at a poolside room in the winter.
We then noticed that whoever had stayed there previously (I hope) before us, had left pizza laying in the fridge, a used bar of soap was in the shower, as well as half of a used shampoo bottle...Which in turn means, our room wasn't properly cleaned. So we quickly took care of that ourselves, and then got ready to go to the water park, before dinner (we had eaten a really late lunch on the way down).
The waterpark at Wilderness at the smokies (the Indoor portion) is quite comparable to Great Wolf Lodge- Mason/Cincinnati, only with a great (large) "6 and over" hot tub (which is indoor/outdoor). It also has a normal pool, a wave pool (my husbands favorite), 2 smaller kid areas (my 5 year old LOVED both), 4 large waterslides, a "surf" pool, many MANY chairs, tables and lots of snacks/drinks. It is a very nice (and clean) facility, and is kept at 84 degrees F all year round! So the air in the room nor the water ever felt cold. The other great thing (which we didn't experience due to the time of our arrival) was the roof, that provides year round sun tanning!
The one thing Thomas and I were most excited to do was the waterslides, because due to having a small child, we hadn't had the chance go on waterslides at any park since before Hailee was born. This time, during the times my mother-in-law wasn't in the hot tub (which was most of the time...I'll get to that in a second), she watched Hailee in the kids areas, so we could go have a few minutes of fun.
Upon arrival at the first slide, "Storm Chaser", the line wasn't terribly long. We went up with a few other people to the top, and they immediately got on the ride. When it was our turn, the lifeguard in charge looked at me and proceeded to have me step on a scale, and then had Thomas step on with me. Of course there were also a few people also standing behind us watching.
As a plus size person, this was my nightmare. The lifeguard wasn't nice about it, he just looked at me up and down. Of course there is no way in heck that Thomas (who everyone knows is a light man), and I would EVER weigh 800 lbs together. But he proceeded to let us get on the slide, and besides being horrified of being weighed in front of people, the slide was a blast, as was the second one.
Now, saying this, I kind of realize that they may have to do this for safety reasons, but the fact that they didn't weigh the people in front of us, sure makes a person, especially one who is sensitive about weight, feel like crap..fast.
After the waterslides, my husband decided to get in the wave pool, which was an absolute blast! The waves aren't as huge as some of the other parks waves, so that allows you to be in the deep end and not feel like your going to constantly drown. Even Hailee loved being in the shallow end of it!
Before we left, my mother in law decided to try to get into the hot tub, which was the main reason she was at the park. Now, in AT LEAST two different places, there is a sign saying something to the effect of "no one under 6 years of age can go in". But for the almost 4 hours we were at the water park, the hot tub was filled with babies (even newborns) being watched by young siblings, parents who weren't paying attention, so it was over crowded, and of course was one of the only areas in the facility that isn't maned by a lifeguard. So that took the relaxation aspect out of that, as when we did in, we were being constantly splashed, or we couldn't get in at all.
We finished at the waterpark around 7:30, and changed to go eat dinner. We then realized that there weren't many "local" eateries that were open past 9 or 10, so we settled for a restaurant called "Quaker Steak and Lube", which I had seen in passing before on our trips to Michigan, in Ohio.
I've always wondered what it was, what their food was like...etc. Unfortunately it was highly disappointing. Our waiter was rude, and forgot our drink order multiple times (there was only one other family in the restaurant), the food was completely tasteless. Hailee and I shared pulled chicken mac and cheese, which on paper looks delicious, as did the ribs that Thomas and my mother-in-law ordered. But both were small portions, and had little to no taste. Definitely wouldn't recommend anyone going to this particular location, after our experience (but hey, everyone has off nights. right?).
After our dinner, we went back to the room, which is where our trip had a major turn of events.
Hailee fell right to sleep on the top bunk, no issues, and the rest of us got ready for bed and got into bed. About 20 minutes pass, and Pam gets out of bed and collapses, and becomes very lethargic. So, while Thomas helped her, I ran down to the front desk, and first I asked the discounted ticket desk if the hotel possibly had a medic or a blood pressure cuff, and I explained what had happened. Both ladies at the desk, looked at each other, smirked, then looked at me. "No, we have neither. You should've just called 9-11", one of the ladies said. Well, thank you...I realize this would be a normal step in this situation, except for my mother-in-law didn't want to go to the hospital. She then told me to walk across to the main desk, and ask the lady there what could be done. Thankfully, the lady at the front desk was much nicer, and sincere and radioed the security guard for me, and he had a blood pressure machine, and he quickly brought up to the room.
With his recommendation, we went ahead and called 9-11 and while we waited, and he met the police, firemen and medics in the lobby, and brought them up to our room (quickly, I might add). He then proceeded to stay with us until the emergency personnel left, which was awesome.
Everything turned out okay in the end with my mother-in-law, but we decided that it would be best to go home the next day so we could be at home if anything else were to happen. So the next morning was my husbands birthday, and so Hailee and I woke up super early, and sat on the balcony, watching the sun rise and the storms roll in, while we let Thomas and his mom sleep in. There was nothing quite like the view of the mountains surrounding the lodge and the outdoor waterpark. Hailee and I also got to see many different kinds of birds, which we both loved. It was a great peaceful moment after the night before, and a great start to our day.
After the rest of the crew woke up and got around, Hailee and I ran downstairs to the fudge and candy shop, near the lobby and surprised Thomas with his favorite fudge flavor, birthday cake! We also picked up some gummies for Hailee, and some chocolate for me. Unlike some of the other big hotels/cruises that have candy stores, the prices were actually great! Better yet, they served starbucks drinks! It was rather impressive.
On the way out, after checkout, we decided to make a last minute stop at the gift shop. I loved all of their choices of selection, and I loved the fact that there was a little something for everyone. Unfortunately, the lady in the gift shop didn't know how to exchange a pair of goggles (for some reason the kids goggles were too small for Hailee) so we waited a long while for her to get help, which of course wasn't exactly easy for my MIL, due to the complications of the night before. But finally, another lady came and helped her, and we made our way home.
I look at this trip, kind of like an adventure. There's always ups and downs in any situation, but you live and you learn. Right?
We hope to return to Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge/Sevierville, TN soon. What are your favorite things to do in these areas? Comment below, of shoot me a DM in Instagram! I hope you all have an awesome week.
Update: I have now spoken to the Resort Manager, and he was super nice. Unfortunately, most of the issues that I had issues with during my stay (the ticket desk and the "selling" before giving me my parking pass), is apparently owned by Wyndham and not the resort itself. He offered to get me the best "deal" if I ever wanted to come back.