We've been studying the jungle for science lately (that's a good way to make watching Survivor part of school), and since we can't go to Papua New Guinea and have banana sour cream cake, we decided to go to Rainforest Adventures in nearby Sevierville, TN (right outside of Gatlinburg). We had been to Rainforest Adventures several years ago as part of a field trip, and I remember thinking it was extremely lame. But my kids didn't remember going, and I invited my friend's kids along for the day because things are always more fun with friends.
We picked a great time to go (11:30 a.m. on a Friday); when we pulled into the parking lot, there were only 3 other cars there. The worker said there had been a large school group there in the morning, so I guess we hit it just right. (Early March is generally a good time to visit the Gatlinburg area, as most spring breaks don't happen until about the third week of the month.) The museum took less than an hour to walk through very slowly, and then we walked through two or three more times.
|From Rainforest 3/6/09 4:42 PM|
I was personally horrified but fascinated (in a traffic wreck kind of way) by the huge number of snakes—from albino anacondas to a green mamba— that this museum has; this would be an ideal place to visit if you are studying snakes. And the snakes aren't limited to the rainforest theme; some of our local favorites like rattlers and copperheads were there in abundance, too.
|From Rainforest 3/6/09 4:42 PM|
Strangely, Rainforest Adventures now features an outdoor section called "Aussie Walkabout." I'm not sure how this fits into the theme, but if you've ever been to Sevierville/Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg, you know that anything goes. Cheesy as it is, the kids loved this area. I think part of the huge draw was that they were the only people there and had the run of the place. Also, the weather was perfect; this outdoor section would be quite unpleasant on a rainy day. (Because remember, this section is the outback, not the rainforest.) Best of all, an emu unhitched the gate and was wandering aimlessly about, and then the worker collected an emu egg and brought it to us.
How cool is that? Apparently, they give the emu eggs away to artists who carve and paint on the eggs. (Curious? Check out Carved-Eggs.com.)
Rainforest Adventures is a strange little place at the foot of the Smoky Mountains in the massive touristy area known to most as "Gatlinburg." And the kids absolutely loved it! In fact, all four kids gave the Rainforest Adventures a "10+++" rating. Often with museums like this, which are numerous in our area, I feel ripped off. This cost us about $12 for me and $7 for the kids. If I'd paid better attention, I would have seen that there is a $2/off admission coupon on the website and saved us $10. Ergh! But even at that price, I did NOT feel ripped off because the kids loved it soooo much.
My recommendation? If you go, make sure you realize that this is really only about an hour's visit, although you can stretch it into 2 hours to justify paying the ticket price (and don't forget the coupon). It's a small place and kind of smelly, but it has loads of critters. Call ahead to make sure there aren't any school groups because this place would lose much of its charm with a lot of people there. And bring quarters for the goat food (for all those goats in the rainforest).