Do yourself a favor if you're not already doing this...when you're traveling and you know you'll have some time to see or do "extra" stuff, search "mini-golf" wherever you are. And go for broke. Find the craziest-looking one and go.

Actually, if you love putt-putt, it doesn't HAVE to be crazy, but I think the course does have to present some fun challenges. In Rockford IL, I visited Volcano Falls Adventure Park. There was plenty to do, but mini-golf was the focus. And it was a great course.

I see so many defunct mini-golf courses in my travels. What is it about those particular attractions that cause folks to just leave them where they are for DECADES after they close down? Well, anyway, I don't think that particular fate will befall what looks like an exciting mini-golf adventure in east Tennessee called The Sky Pirates of Mermaid Bay. Hit the 3:31 mark for a mini-preview:

Obviously, there isn't much to see, but crews are hard at work preparing for a summertime opening. I think THESE items kind of sum up the big picture, don't you?

The Sky Pirates of Mermaid Bay feels like next-level entertainment in the world of not only mini-golf, but also just the many entertainment opportunities you can find in the Smoky Mountains. You know, it's been interesting watching Pigeon Forge grow--that's where this is. I mean, it wasn't TERRIBLY long ago that it was just Gatlinburg and everyone else.

But Dollywood has been such a force in the tourism industry, it doesn't seem like it's been difficult getting anything greenlit.

And, doesn't a massive entertainment complex that features an 18-hole under-the-sea mini-golf adventure and an 18-hole rooftop Sky Pirate mini-golf course sound like the perfect addition to the perfect vacation.

Plus, if you're wondering how to navigate the huge on-sight pirate ship, here's your answer. What looks like a garden-variety tornado slide is anything but:

If you've already planned out your trip to east Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains this summer, you might need to add some extra time--if not another day--to your itinerary.

You don't want to let a bunch of pirates and mermaids down, do you?

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