The Most Depressing Tourist Attraction Ever

Several years ago, some friends and I vacationed in a cabin in Gaitlinburg, Tennessee. This was of course before I moved into my Cracked-issued mansion, for which I am still grateful.

This is a photograph.

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Just a few miles from Gaitlinburg is Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Imagine for me, readers. Imagine the decadent spirit of Las Vegas. Now turn it into a city, but make it family-friendly. Add go-carts, then add too many go-carts. Add the second biggest statue of Jesus I've ever seen promoting the most extravagant Jesus musical I've ever not seen, and you've got Pigeon Forge. If you want to buy a t-shirt to wear for your meal at Blamey's or if you want to grab a burger at Blamey's and then go buy some t-shirts, there's always something to do at Pigeon Forge. Just ask the town[?]'s website:

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They fail to mention that the question you will be asking is, "What else is there to do?" There are only so many times you can play miniature golf while getting bored of a t-shirt, and there are only so many times you can miniature golf in your newest t-shirt. The place seemed to be built as a tourist attraction extravaganza, except all of the tourists live pretty close by. So what do you do? Do you go to Dollywood or do you... I'm sorry, I'm not even going to finish the question. The answer is "feed 5 live bears."

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Yes, reader, even you can feed 5 live bears. All we had to do was get in line and check our logic/compassion at the door, because we were almost immediately handed a Styrofoam bowl filled with chocolate mini-donuts and a couple of apple slices (to be fair, the sign didn't say "Feed 5 live bears what bears eat"). We were then shuffled into a scorching hot tank/cage filled with what looked like bear corpses. Near those bear corpses were waterless puddles in which the bears could gingerly place their miserable faces, as if to say "Something's missing grrrrr I'm a bear." Apple slices and chocolate mini-donuts were strewn about on the floor of the bear's natural habitat (cement), and everything was suddenly sad. Referring to the attraction as feeding "live" bears was, I think, the establishment's way of saying "fuck you" to their horribly malnourished bears. And referring to it as the only place to feed live bears was, I think, their way of saying "fuck you" to real men.

Real men feed bears to themselves.

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The corpsed bears were alive in the most razor-thin definition of the word. They were breathing, but they were also hungry, tired, and thirsty. They wanted food that was not chocolate, mini, or donut, and certainly not "chocolate mini-donut." If I had sat down beside one of the bears, it absolutely would have tried to eat me, but it would have done so at a comically slow pace. My assessment of the bears went from "dead" to "wishing they were dead," so +1 to all bears, I guess. As the sticky children and their sticky parents threw sticky donuts at (not "to") the bears, I ate my complimentary bowl of chocolate mini-donuts and then tossed my apple pieces to (not "at") the bears. I left the place feeling a little helpless, because I couldn't pick up all the bears and carry them to the nearest bear hospital (AKA - anywhere but their current setting). In lieu of that, I stole a bunch of crap from their gift shop. In fact, for the rest of the week I stole as much crap from gift shops as I possibly could (mostly confederate flag necklaces and a t-shirt about praying really well). I of course don't think I made a difference, but I did feel better.

Not much better.

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It's been years since I was there. Apparently it still exists and you can still "feed" five "live" bears. Although, according to the only available picture of the bears, there aren't five of them. There are three and they are triplets! Adorable!

Adobe Bears CS3

Perhaps the most haunting thing about the website is that the main image says "feed 5 live bears" but the url ends with "3_bears.html." The gift shop is called 3 Bears Gift Shop, but I also don't remember how many bears I saw when I ate those donuts. It could have been 5 or 3 or 7 or any other reasonable number of bears to have. Many things could be going on here. Have they not changed the url because they got more bears, or have they forgotten to change the image because now they have fewer bears? Better question, how often do these bears die? Better question?

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From where do they keep getting bears?

Do they snatch them up in the wild? Is there some crooked zoo keeper on the take? Is a congresswoman in the pocket of Big Salmon? This could go straight to the top. My theory is that they buy the bears from an old Chinese man's mystical antique shop. It definitely explains why there was no water for the bears, because we all know what happens when you get bears wet.

And don't feed them after midnight.

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Better yet, just don't feed them chocolate mini-donuts after any o'clock.

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