Did you know that right in downtown Gatlinburg lies an amusement park called Fun Mountain? If you’ve been to Gatlinburg in the last few years, you’re likely saying “Wait a minute – I’ve driven through Gatlinburg and didn’t see any abandoned amusement park.” The trick is you have to know where to look!
Fun Mountain opened in 1993 on the land that previously housed the Mountain View Hotel, which was one of the very first hotels in Gatlinburg, having opened in 1926. You can certainly argue it was a travesty to tear down such a historic property, but nonetheless, the old building was demolished and a theme park built in its place – Fun Mountain!
If you are curious to explore this old theme park yourself, you will find it at the back of the parking lot near the corner of 321 and East Parkway. We can’t say for sure if it is considered trespassing to go look at it, so venture at your own risk. We have noticed that it is not unusual to see police officers parked nearby. You can park near the back of the parking lot (we do recommend paying the parking fee, lest you risk having your vehicle towed), and then make your way toward the tunnel.
Look up and you will immediately notice ski lift chairs still suspended in the air. It is a little bit creepy, as the trees and woods have overtaken the once active ride.
There are two ways to go – through the tunnel, or up a path through the woods you come to before the tunnel. To your left you will see the remnants of a crumbled swimming pool. Go through the tunnel, and you find yourself basically at someone’s house. There doesn’t seem to be anywhere else to go, so that is the end of it. And again, you may very well be trespassing on someone’s land at that point. So don’t tarry.
The other way to go is up the path through the woods. When you get to the top you find…a parking lot. The fact is all of the attractions have long since been removed. So if you’re searching for abandoned Tilt-a-Whirls and the like, you may be disappointed. But there are definitely artifacts remaining, such as what was once the base and control tower for the ski lift.
You may also notice some towers arising in the distance that were part of the park, but as far as we can tell, getting there would require climbing very rough, steep terrain, on land that is likely private property.
If you would like to learn more about Fun Mountain, you can still view their old website on the Internet archive. It is fascinating to take a look back at the marketing material and copy for the once bustling park.
Sometimes the most interesting things in a tourist town are off the map. If you find yourself walking around Gatlinburg in the mood for exploration, go give Fun Mountain a look. Book your room at Edgewater Hotel and you can just walk to it and save a $20 parking fee!