The Dixie Stampede Dinner Theater in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is a popular attraction for tourists and offers fun for the entire family.
Four years ago, I visited the Dixie Stampede for the first time with my husband and (then) teenagers. My family was pleasantly surprised by the program and I couldn’t wait to share the experience with my mom and dad on a recent return trip to the Smokies.
There have been a couple changes since that first visit, mainly the addition of a 150-foot LED wall that brings the world outside, from stampeding buffalos to the night sky, right inside the arena. I was also pleasantly surprised that photography (no flash) is now permitted. The show, the service, and the food remain every bit as good as I remembered.
There were a couple things that we did differently this time.
We did not arrive on time for the pre-show. We’d had a busy day and I’d pretty much worn out my mom and dad so when I heard them grabbing some zzz’s in the hotel room, I let them sleep. This was probably a mistake. I realized when we walked into the room and the band was playing their last songs, that my mom and dad would have really enjoyed the pre-program.
This time I requested AMA seating. I was worried about my parents’ navigating the stairs on each platform but the handicap seating also had a great view. While some may say that the seating right along the arena floor is best, I disagree and think the higher seats offer better views because you can easily see everything that is going on from above. On our last trip, my family sat on the fourth level and loved the view we had and I certainly didn’t hear any complaints from my mom and dad this time around.
Since I was with my mom and dad, we waited to take the elevator to the seating area. The elevator opened on the fifth level so it was an easy walk to our seats. The fifth level is also where you’ll find the restrooms so if you’re someone that needs to go frequently (I’m thinking little ones or expectant mothers), the upper seating areas near the walkways may be a great option for you.
If you’ve read my previous post about my visit to the Dixie Stampede, you’ll know that I was very disappointed that photography was not allowed during the show. This has changed. Visitors are now permitted to take non-flash photography. Honestly, having been on both sides, I preferred not taking photos. As a spectator, it can be distracting when so many people hold up their phones to take photos throughout the show. Plus, I definitely pay attention better when photography is not an option.
I know my mom and dad had doubts that they’d enjoy the show and were pleasantly surprised by the experience.
Things to Know Before you Go to the Dixie Stampede
1. There is no dress code.
Yes, shirts and shoes are required but fancy attire is not necessary. My mom was concerned that she wouldn’t be dressed properly for the Dixie Stampede. Yes, some people will dress up but you’ll find that many dress very casually. We saw many people in jeans and a t-shirt. The bottom line, dress comfortably.
2. You will have plenty to eat.
The food is really good- unless you’re from Louisiana and your palate is more accustomed to spicy cuisine. I was pleasantly surprised by the food quality and portion the first time I visited the Dixie Stampede and that didn’t change on my second visit. I’m still dreaming of that creamy vegetable soup. I could have slurped that out of my handled soup bowl all night. When the waiter placed the chicken on my dad’s plate, which is the size of a Cornish hen, my dad looked at me and said, “Wow.” He hadn’t expected the portions to be so generous. You definitely walk away with a full tummy and if your tummy fills up before you clean your plate, you can ask for a to go bag and take it with you.
3. You will not have utensils.
If you’re squeamish about eating with your fingers, get over it. Seriously. The waiter/waitress will give you wet wipes to clean your hands before your meal as well as a warm towel after your meal to clean up with.
4. Be patient.
You may be tempted to rush to the stairs or elevator when the audience is released to go upstairs after the pre-show. Stay seated and wait for the crowd to thin. You’ll have plenty of time to find your seat before the show starts. The same goes for the conclusion of the show. Stay seated and allow the arena to thin out a bit before you make your exit.
5. Purchase your tickets in advance.
If you’re visiting during spring break, the summer, during the fall season or around Christmas, make sure you order your tickets in well in advance.
6. Be prepared to have fun.
The Dixie Stampede starts off breathtaking with sweeping views of our natural lands lit up on the LED screen. From there it takes a historical look at our country. While there is a friendly North and South rivalry throughout the show, it’s carefree and steers clear of divisive wording and actions, instead focusing on what binds us together as Americans. Though some of the show can be serious, more of the performance is lighthearted and entertaining, especially once Skeeter makes an appearance. Members of the audience even become part of the show on several occasions.
7. Stop by the stables on the way to your vehicle.
You’ll find stalls to the back of the building near the bus parking area. Where you’ll see some of the horses used in the show.
If you’d like to learn more about what to expect at the Dixie Stampede dinner show, read my previous post about visiting the show with teenagers.
More Things to do in the Smokies:
7 Tips to Help you Plan Family Vacations on a Budget
Visiting Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
Seeking Thrills on a Great Smoky Mountains Vacation
Family Fun at Wonderworks in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Affordable Large Family Accommodations in Gatlinburg