A Double-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, the Tennessee Smokies charge into the 2011 post-season with a rollicking medley of power hitting and top-notch pitching. The Smokies sit perched atop the SOU North division with two weeks left to play, bolstering their No. 1 position with league-leading stats, including 123 home runs and 9,460 spat sunflower seeds. Fans can hunker down in the concrete confines of Smokies Park for an evening of playoff-caliber baseball, savoring four meaty hot dogs and refreshing soft drinks. While the Smokies' playoff opponent has not yet been determined, families or friends of four will be sure to enjoy a late-summer evening rooting their favorite sluggers or conversing with third-base coaches in their native language of ear tugs and macarena dance moves.
The independently owned Reel Theatres Movies on the Parkway beckons movie-goers with a fleet of first-run films in a family-friendly setting. The cinematic domicile unspools a rotating roster of blockbusters, including coming attractions The Help, 30 Minutes or Less, and Conan the Barbarian. While awaiting a scheduled appointment with a movie, film-goers can visit the arcade (not included in this Groupon) to train for future real-life encounters with unrelenting Pac-Men. Dolby Surround or DTS Digital Sound envelop eager eardrums with the sounds of cinematic car crashes and sumptuous scores, while the wall-to-wall screens embrace larger-than-life storytelling and giant shadow puppets. An included large bag of freshly popped popcorn inspires buttery thumb-wrestling, while the theater's well-stocked concession stand proffers hot dogs, nachos, candy, and other noshable notions.
Zorb Smoky Mountains holds the distinction of being the only Zorb site in the country. Born in New Zealand, Zorb globe riding is a sport that involves an inflatable globe and downhill trips, which may cause riders to roll so fast they think they are tearing a hole in the time-space continuum. The hills themselves are specially designed for globe riding and feature both straight and zigzagged trails.
As they enter the training circle at Curves, female guests come face-to-face with the smiles of other women. And just as points on a circle share a common distance from the circle's center, workout participants share the experiences of those nearby by trading stations throughout the 30-minute training session. One minute is spent on a piece of strength-training equipment built for feminine frames and designed to work two opposing muscle groups with a single movement. Exercisers then move on to a recovery station, where they run, jog, or dance to maintain heart rates and keep platforms in place during momentary losses of gravity.
Tucked away in the Smoky Mountains, RainForest Adventures Discovery Zoo nurtures a diverse family of more than 600 tropical and temperate species, many born in captivity. Brilliantly hued macaws and finches share space with eccentric guests such as two-headed turtles, hissing cockroaches, and reclusive business mogul Howard Hughes. Elsewhere, guests get up close with a cuddly collective of mammals such as kangaroos, African servals, and coatimundi, as well as cold-blooded crocodiles, lizards, and snakes. Regular visitors can witness the growth of Mason, a baby lemur born January 7, or come back in 2033 to celebrate his first legal bite of fermented berries.
Now in its sixth season, Cirque de Chine sweeps across Smoky Mountain Palace’s stage with awe-inspiring flips and twirls as performers don elaborate costumes and props during the two-hour show. Staged by renowned acrobatic troupes from China, the multihued spectacle introduces audiences to scenes such as “Five Flying Motorcyclists” and “Hoop Divers,” the latter of which features players catapulting themselves through circular structures up to 10 feet high, just like basketballs. Against a backdrop of traditional Chinese abodes, dancers build human pyramids, balancing in midair atop teammates’ steady hands as spectators and ziggurat contractors watch, transfixed.
Most people associate flying with the sound of whirring engines, intercoms buzzing, and even propellers sputtering into a spin. Wonders of Flight at WonderWorks, however, removes all audible distractions—its helium-filled balloon rises above the trees with nary a hum or vibration. The effect, says the website, is akin to "being on a flying balcony."
A maximum of 30 people can stand on the balloon's circular gondola as it ascends up to 400 feet in the air. After takeoff, passengers are treated to a sprawling view of the Smoky Mountains, as well as a bird's-eye perspective of the upside-down WonderWorks attraction. These 5- to 10-minute flights run throughout the day, permitting riders to snap photos of the scenery as the blue-and-green balloon levitates from its grounded tether. Wonders of Flight also hosts 30-minute wedding experiences, which afford couples ample time to say "I do," and toss a bouquet into a mob of jetpack-wearing bridesmaids.
A comprehensive guide to attractions and things to do.