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'407 Gateway' project moves forward in Sevierville with Puy du Fou signing on to create first US attraction

The EBCI said the European theme park company signed a letter of intent on May 5 to create a new themed show at its Exit 407 development.

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. — Plans for a new themed show and large tourism development off the Winfield Dunn Parkway and Interstate 40 are moving forward.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tribal Council announced Monday it approved $75 million for phase one of "The 407: Gateway to Adventure" project.

The EBCI said the European theme park company Puy du Fou signed a letter of intent on May 5 to develop a new themed show at the development. The attraction would be the company's first venture outside Europe.

The company's plan is to create a themed show inspired by stories of heroism by Cherokee natives during World War I.

“Puy du Fou is known around the world for transporting guests back in time to feel firsthand the excitement and drama of historical moments. This unique attraction promises to be a one-of-a-kind experience that will make the 407 truly the ‘Gateway to Adventure,'” said Richard Sneed, Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

Puy du Fou has theme parks in both France and Spain. The EBCI said the company's flagship park in France currently draws in more than 2.3 million visitors each year and is second only to Disneyland Paris.

“This project in Tennessee developed together with the EBCI means a lot for us: it will initiate our presence on the American soil where there are so many great stories to tell. As lovers of history and cultural roots, we are proud and honored to partner with the EBCI Tribe to achieve this goal,” said Nicolas de Villiers, Chairman & Artistic Director of Puy du Fou.

Credit: Rick Laney Marketing

The 407 Gateway project has been in the works for years to create a development in an undeveloped section of land off Interstate 40 at Exit 407, which is the primary entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and East Tennessee's tourism hubs in Sevier County. The plan will include hotels, restaurants, retailers, and other specialty attractions that the EBCI said will be announced later this year.

The 200-acre development will be located on the southeastern side of the 407 exit at Dumplin Creek and will soon be home to one of East Tennessee's first Buc-ee's Travel Centers. Buc-ee's said the Sevierville center will become the world's largest convenience store once it opens, which is slated for 2023.