The current style of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg are based on the existence of the Smokey Mountains National Park. The main source of revenue for the area is tourism. People first started coming to the area to enjoy the natural beauty of the mountains. Now they apparently mostly come for the huge amount of artificial entertainment and carnival like atmosphere. The amount of outlet stores, gift emporiums, and diverse entertainment is overwhelming, if not a bit silly. I suspect many folks come and go from the area without actually visiting the National Park.
We really enjoyed our visit to the National Park last fall on the east side of the mountains and hopefully will get to see the park from this side tomorrow, weather permitting.