Posted by Darryl Payne in Pigeon Forge Attractions
In our last post, we shined the spotlight on some of the best live shows in Pigeon Forge. This time around, we're going to focus a little tighter on one of those shows in particular, Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show. Located at 2713 Parkway, this pirate-themed extravaganza has become one of the area's most notable live-theater productions. That should come as no surprise since it's produced by Dolly Parton's entertainment company, which also runs Dolly Parton's Stampede (formerly Dixie Stampede), Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show and the Comedy Barn.
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As with any show worth its salt, Pirates Voyage tells a story, and in this case it's a story of high-seas adventure. And just as some other local venues feature competition-themed shows, Pirates Voyage is no exception. It pits two rival pirate crews - the Crimson and the Sapphire – against each other in head-to-head battles on land, on deck, in the water and even in the riggings of the show's two full-sized pirate ships. Led by the famous pirate Blackbeard and his quartermaster, Calico Jack, respectively, the Crimson and Sapphire crews entertain audiences while vying for the coveted sunken treasure of the one and only Davey Jones.
But at Pirates Voyage, the audiences are part of the show too. The arena is divided into two sides, one Crimson and one Sapphire, and each guest becomes a pirate for one of those two sides, depending on which side he or she is seated. Throughout the show, there are plenty of opportunities for guests to cheer and shout for their crew, and a few lucky audience members get to participate in the action onstage.
"I think people love being able to participate when they have two sides playing against each other," Dolly Parton said in an interview at the time of the show's debut. "It's camaraderie. Everybody likes to feel like they're a part of something, and I think it makes for a special evening."
The production elements alone set quite an extravagant stage for all the action. In addition to the two pirate ships, the show features blazing cannons and skeletons that converge on the scene from both the sky above and the waters below in the midst of a fierce storm. There are musical numbers and tropical birds, and acrobatics play a large part in the action as well; pirates duel with swords, scale masts and swing from ship to ship. You'll also see fire stunts and beautiful mermaids performing graceful dance routines before diving back into the sea. By the end of the evening, one of the two teams gets to claim the treasure, but it's the audiences that are the real winners, having spent two hours witnessing an indoor theatrical spectacle unlike any other in the area.
Is the show suitable for family members of all ages? Absolutely, according to Dolly.
"It lets the parents get to be as much of a kid as the kids," she said. "They're all in a safe place, and it's just a wonderful evening. And it's great entertainment. These performers are very skilled, very talented, so it's like watching art in motion."
But entertainment is only part of the dinner-and-show equation at Pirates Voyage. As the action begins, cast members serve a four-course pirate's feast beginning with a Buccaneer Biscuit and Voyager Creamy Vegetable Soup. The main courses include Cracklin' Pan-Fried Chicken, Swashbucklin' Sugar-Cured Ham, Matey's Mac 'n' Cheese and Jolly Roger Sweet Potato Souffle. You can finish your meal off with a Plank Peach Turnover, and meals include unlimited servings of Coca-Cola, tea or coffee.
Pigeon Forge is actually Pirates Voyage's second location. The original opened in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in 2011, and Dolly Parton herself was involved in the brainstorming process behind the original show. She also helped write the music that plays during the show, including a song called “Sail Away.”
"It's a song I wrote about falling in love with a sailor boy, thinking he's going to return, and they hardly ever do. They just sail away,” Parton said. “Any time I can be involved at all in the music in any of those projects, I love it."
Guests who arrive before show time can hang out in Pirates Village, an interactive experience geared to get them warmed up for the action to come. In addition to wetting your whistle with fun pirate-themed beverages and snacks, your crew can be transformed into pirates and mermaids with special makeup, costumes and flags. Makeovers are available for all ages.
It's also worth noting that Pirates Voyage is accessible to guests with special needs, and wireless headsets are available to those who are hearing impaired. Also, meal substitutions can be made for vegetarians, provided they contact the ticket sales department in advance.
Pirates Voyage has made modifications to the way it operates during the current national health crisis. Seating is now set up to allow six feet of separation between parties, and seating capacity has been reduced to 50 percent. The facility's surfaces are cleaned and sanitized before, during and in between all performances. Staff members interacting with guests are required to wear facemasks, and guests are required to wear masks when entering, moving through and exiting the facility. Once you're seated at your table, the masks can come off. How else are you going to eat a four-course meal? You can also expect to have your temperature taken upon entering and answer a few questions about recent exposure to illness.
But the bottom line is that these guidelines won't affect the show itself or the meal or anyone's ability to enjoy a performance of Pirates Voyage. The fact that they're taking a few extra safety measures can only give guests some additional peace of mind while they're experiencing one of Pigeon Forge's must-see shows.
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