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First phase of 'The Island' set for May opening

7:45 PM, Mar 30, 2013   |    comments
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A once bankrupt Pigeon Forge attraction is expected to finally be up and running in a few months.

The first phase "the Island at Pigeon Forge," which will consist of a dozen restaurants and retail shops is slated to open in May or June, according to operations manager Tom Horne. This includes a smaller version of the "Mellow Mushroom."

"They've been out here working since October non-stop. They're putting a lot of infrastructure in the bridges connecting 'the Island' with the Parkway," Horne said.

In 2003, the project first started as "Belle Island," but financial difficulties lead to bankruptcy in 2009. Originally, it was touted as a family entertainment venue, with highlights from screen star Debbie Reynolds and NASCAR's Darrell Waltrip.

While those museums are not slated with the "The Island," there is a major attraction in final planning stages. A 200-foot sky wheel, called "The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel," is almost finished construction on the Island property.

"Nothing about a big project is easy. It takes a lot of effort from a lot of different people. So it's been a big undertaking," Horne added.

A second phase of the project will include a hotel, a water-themed attraction, and 50 more retailers/restaurants. That is slated for spring 2014.

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