By HAYLEY HARMON6 News Anchor/Reporter
PIGEON FORGE (WATE) - Pigeon Forge's newest attraction celebrated its grand opening Friday, giving locals a whole new view of Sevier County.
Hundreds of locals turned out to take advantage of opening day fun at The Island in Pigeon Forge.
"We've been working a year and a half on it and today is the day. Bring the family. It is going to be a fun ride," said Bob McManus, a partner in The Island development.
The Island offers great places to eat, shop and play right off the parkway.
"We thought this was a diamond in the rough just sitting here," said McManus.
Local residents and tourists showed up in big numbers to check it all out Friday.
"We come to Pigeon Forge often. We were excited about trying something new," said visitor Mandy Cox.
The most obvious feature of the island that drew crowds Friday was the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel.
"We'd seen the wheel for several months and had been waiting on it to open. We were excited when we saw it was opening day," said visitor Tonya Wallis.
The massive Ferris wheel can hold up to 250 people at a time in air conditioned gondolas.
At 200 feet tall, it's the tallest observation wheel in the United States and offers amazing views of the Smoky Mountains.
"The kids loved it. They thought it was very exciting," said Wallis.
The Island's developers are glad to bring this new attraction to the tourist town.
"It's eat-ertainment. It's all in one. You get it all here. Attractions, interactive experience, the food. It's all here," said Tom Horne of The Island.
Tourists lucky enough to stop in on opening day say they'll definitely be coming back.
"We were on our way home and saw the grand opening was today so thought we'd come check it out. I told the kids they could always remember they were here on the first day it opened," said Cox.
"We're hoping families will come, build memories here and have a good time in Sevier County," said McManus.
The Island has already provided 250 new permanent jobs to Sevier County.
In Spring 2014, they'll also be completing Phase 2 of the project, including a 132 room, four start hotel which will bring another estimated 800 new positions.
For more information, visit The Island's website.
1306 N. Broadway NE Knoxville, Tennessee 37917