The 407: Gateway to Adventure breaks ground on ‘Smoky Gap’ entertainment district
A major new development in Tennessee has broken ground, with The 407: Gateway to Adventure’s ‘Smoky Gap’ entertainment district promising to feature world-class attractions when it opens in 2025
Tom Anstey | Planet Attractions | 14 Apr 2023
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Set as an entertainment district in the early 1900s, Smoky Gap centres around a Main Street with Americana-themed storefronts CREDIT: THE 407: GATEWAY TO ADVENTURE
Work has started on Smoky Gap – the entertainment district set to become part of the highly anticipated ‘The 407: Gateway to Adventure’ when it opens in 2025.
The US$75m (€68.3m, £60.4m) development in Sevierville, Tennessee, made headlines last year when it announced that it would be home to the US’s first Puy du Fou attraction.
Now taking another step forward, ground has officially been broken on the Smoky Gap – the first of several development phases for the 810,000sq m (200 acres) project, which plans to utilise world-class attractions to draw record-breaking crowds to the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge areas.
Set as an entertainment district in the early 1900s, the 81,000sq m (20 acres) Smoky Gap centres around a Main Street with Americana-themed storefronts and a large clocktower. A future attraction, now “to be announced at a later date” but still thought to be Puy du Fou, will anchor Smoky Gap with a world-class experiential facility.
In May last year, it was announced last year that an immersive walkthrough Puy du Fou experience will be inspired by the journeys of the Cherokee Indians who served during World War One. According to the developers, the show is a “patriotic and moving journey for the entire family”.
A 6,900sq m (74,000sq ft) Buc-ee’s – a Texas-based chain of country stores and gas stations known for its barbecue offerings and its giant beaver mascot – will anchor the site for its grand opening in summer 2023.
Smoky Gap comes later in 2025 as part of phase one alongside a Marriott Courtyard hotel and the anchor attraction. Phase two of the development will include a further overnight destination and the development of a world-class resort. Plans also include a golf attraction, go-karts, a distillery experience and the “ultimate sports experience”.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are funding the project through its business development entity, Kituwah LLC, with Joseph Construction serving as contractor for the multi-million-dollar development.
“Smoky Gap is a platform for partnership,” said Mark Hubble, CEO of Kituwah.
“This entertainment district is where the Tribe is establishing long-term, mutually-rewarding partnerships with the companies and brands that will make The 407: Gateway to Adventure a one-of-a-kind destination.
“Our tenants will operate alongside tribally owned businesses that will contribute to an overall destination guests must experience at the start of their Smoky Mountain vacation.”
According to the developers, the attraction could welcome up to 6.7 million visitors in its first year. By contrast, nearby Dollywood welcomes around three million visitors each year, while the Great Smoky Mountains National Park welcomed 14 million visitors in 2021.
“This development – The 407: Gateway to Adventure and specifically the Smoky Gap district – will raise the bar for the entire Smoky Mountain tourism market,” said Chris McCoy, president of Kituwah Marketing.
“We’re committed to delivering unparalleled entertainment, breathtaking experiences, fine dining, and the best shopping in the Smokies. People will be able to stop for a few hours or stay for a few days.”