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Belle Island Village Plans Fall 2008 Grand Opening


Belle Island Village,  a $114 million, 26-acre, themed development with retail, hospitality and entertainment venues has announced its plans for a fall 2008 grand opening.

The pedestrian-friendly complex, situated in the heart of tourism haven Pigeon Forge, Tenn., will include as anchor attractions the much-anticipated permanent location of the Debbie Reynolds Hollywood Motion Picture Museum — a multi-million dollar Hollywood memorabilia collection estimated to be the largest private collection in the world — and NASCAR legend and FOX commentator Darrell Waltrip’s Racing Experience.

Both attractions and their principals, including film and television star Debbie Reynolds and her son Todd Fisher as CEO of the Museum, as well as racing legend Darrell Waltrip and well-known NASCAR pit crew chief Jeff Hammond, represent key partners in the development.

A recent addition to Belle Island’s growing list of family-friendly attractions includes Otter Cove, produced in partnership with the Knoxville Zoo.

"We’re excited to be moving at full steam to prepare for Belle Island Village’s opening this fall, " said Glen Bilbo, president of Southern Venue Development, LLC, which is overseeing the project.

"We anticipate that public interest in Belle Island Village locally, regionally and nationally — and even internationally — will be overwhelming, given its unique offerings and its location in one of America’s true tourism capitals in Pigeon Forge, a gateway destination to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, " Bilbo said.

According to Bilbo, Belle Island Village expects nearly two million visitors per year, with multiple special appearances each month by Debbie Reynolds, Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Hammond and a variety of other celebrity guests from the entertainment and racing worlds. The development will be one of the largest themed destinations in the Southeast.

Belle Island Village will include more than 90 specialty shops and demonstration crafts, more than a dozen restaurants, several entertainment venues and other attractions, all laid out in a flat, pedestrian-friendly design. A children’s area of the Village will include rides. Ample parking with 3, 000 spaces, including tram / trolley service to the front entrance, will also be provided.

Located throughout the Village will be 130 upscale hotel staterooms with balconies overlooking the pedestrian streets below or views of the Little Pigeon River or the Great Smoky Mountains.

More information about construction progress, retail and career opportunities can be found on the Belle Island Village web site at


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