The year 2012 brings fresh, new exhibits, attractions, enhanced destinations and experiences to Tennessee’s already thriving tourism industry, as well as some major milestone events throughout the state.
In Memphis, Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. has unveiled plans for a year-long celebration of the life and legacy of the Rock ‘n Roll icon during the 35th anniversary of the late singer’s passing, including an annual birthday celebration, an Elvis Cruise from Jacksonville, Fla., to Nassau and Elvis Week 2012.
Opry Mills Mall, closed since May 2010 for a complete renovation, will reopen March 2012. Gaylord Opryland has also introduced the beloved characters from DreamWorks Animation films - Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar. Interactive experiences include special character meals, newly-themed experiences throughout the year, including fun poolside activities during the summer.
The 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s maiden voyage will be April 2012. In commemoration, Titanic Pigeon Forge will host special events and exhibitions throughout the year. Also in East Tennessee, Dollywood will launch its new Wild Eagle thrill ride, America’s first wing roller coaster. Wild Eagle is perched 21 stories above Dollywood and takes riders on a unique experience: instead of on the track, Wild Eagle seats riders on either side of the track so that there’s nothing but air above and below the rider.
Statewide, 2012 marks the 75th anniversary of Tennessee’s State Parks. Tennessee State Parks will host a variety of special events throughout 2012 and has unveiled a specially-designed 75th anniversary logo – reminiscent of the ranger uniform patches of yesteryear. State park features range from pristine natural areas to 18-hole championship golf courses. For upcoming events in connection with the 75th anniversary of Tennessee State Parks, please visit the state parks website at www.tnstateparks.com.
Tennessee’s Civil War Sesquicentennial continues in 2012 with 150th milestone events at three of the state’s national battlefield sites.
Fort Donelson National Battlefield’s Civil War 150th is Feb. 10-16. However, the 150th anniversary will be commemorated throughout 2012 with a variety of encampments, living history programs, films, author visits and more. nps.gov/fodo/index.htm
Tennessee’s Sesquicentennial Commission announces the state’s third Sesquicentennial Signature Event, taking place April 4 and 5 at Pickwick Landing State Park and Shiloh National Military Park. Reenactments, seminars and other events will take place March 29 through April 8, 2012. On April 7, a grand illumination of Shiloh National Battlefield will take place featuring 23,746 luminaries, one for each American soldier killed, wounded or missing at Shiloh.
The 150th Commemoration of the Battle of Stones River will take place Dec. 26, 2012 – Jan. 2, 2013. Park rangers and volunteers will present a variety of talks, walks and battlefield tours that will tell the story of one of the bloodiest and most important battles of the Civil War. On Dec. 29-30, Union and Confederate re-enactors will share their battle stories and conduct special demonstrations of weapons used in battle. nps.gov/stri/planyourvisit/cw150park.htm
Below is a listing of what’s new for 2012 in the Tennessee tourism industry. It can also be found on http://press.tnvacation.com/media/story-ideas/.
East Tennessee —
National Geographic’s East Tennessee River Valley Online Mapguide, featuring more than 500 points of interest that capture the region’s unique character and beauty, debuted in October of 2011.
Douglas Lake will host the 2012 Bass Master Elite Series May 3-7. Dandridge will play host to the top pro-anglers in the nation. Fishing fans and outdoor enthusiasts are welcome to attend this free event.
Ocoee Adventure Company has a new Saddle & Paddle package that includes a whitewater rafting trip on the Ocoee River combined with a horseback ride with Blanche Manor.
The Cherokee National Forest is offering guided excursions for underwater fish viewing in the Conasauga River and Citico Creek for groups of 12 or more.
Middle Tennessee —
Whistle Hollow Farm, Tennessee’s latest agritourism site, features classes in pottery and quilting as well as a restaurant, music stage, a fitness trail, free outdoor G-rated movies, petting farm and gift shop.
Fort Defiance has opened a state-of-the-art Interpretive Center at the historic Civil War fort. Interactive displays provide a detailed story of what life was like in Clarksville during the Civil War.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans National Reunion will be held in Murfreesboro July 11-15.
Tennessee’s Commemoration of the War of 1812 Bicentennial
The Tennessee State Museum opens a bicentennial exhibit in March of 2012.
Muster Day on the Natchez Trace – 1812 will take place Memorial Day Weekend, as part of Tennessee’s commemoration of its role in the War of 1812.
The Tennessee Overhill
The “Fried Green Tomato Festival” will be held at Niota, the “National Muscadine Festival” at Sweetwater and “Dumplin' Day” at Englewood.
The Fontanel will feature Music City’s most talented up-and-comers in Music City On Stage in the brand new Studio Gallery. The show will offer a wide range of hits and styles.
West Tennessee —
The Big Black Creek Historical Association, in partnership with the Madison County Commission, is preserving the Denmark Presbyterian Church. The structure was built in 1854 by the Snipes brothers and their slaves and is listed on The National Register of Historic Places and Tennessee Civil War Trail.
The Parker’s Crossroads Visitor Center opened at the intersection of Interstate 40 and Tennessee State Highway 22, exit 108. The center welcomes visitors and is conveniently located near the Parker’s Crossroads Civil War Battlefield.
Brooks Shaw’s Old Country Store at Casey Jones Village has opened a new venue - Music Highway Crossroads. The 2,000-square-foot space features a performance stage, retail shops, and radio studio. The venue celebrates the musical roots of West Tennessee and the iconic artists who changed the face of music.
For the latest tourism happenings in Tennessee, visit us at tnvacation.com, facebook.com/tnvacation, mytnstory.com or twitter.com/tnvacation/.