By Mike Steely
“So much fun it’s a crime” is the motto of Alcatraz East, an unusual attraction in Pigeon Forge. It looks very much like a prison on the outside and inside are several floors with displays on just about every crime and major criminal and victim you can imagine.
If you are into TV series like “CSI” or “Criminal Minds” you’ll probably find this crime museum very informative and educational. The displays run the gamut from Blackbeard to Charles Mansion and beyond, with exhibits about presidential assassinations, kidnapping, mass murders, unsolved crimes and punishment.
The attraction might not be suitable for small children or the squeamish. Not that the attraction is bloody or gross but the subject matter might not set well with some.
If you’re a fan of the Jefferson Bass books and the Body Farm in Knoxville you’ll be delighted to see Dr. William Bass honored in the attractions along with copies of his books, information about him, and even a lab coat with his name on it. There’s also some information there about Brushy Mountain Prison and James Earl Ray in a section about notorious and famous hoosegows.
Just about every aspect of crime and punishment has a section at Alcatraz East. The building seems much larger inside than it does from the street. Car buffs will enjoy seeing the cars of O. J. Simpson, John Dillinger, Ted Bundy and the much bullet-riddled Bonnie and Clyde death car.
The punishment section features everything from a puritan dunking seat to a stockade where you can get your photo taken. There are lots of hands-on displays including a laser shooting gallery and a car chase interactive video game There are exhibits showing a lethal gas chamber, an electric chair, and several other ways for the final punishment of convicted criminals. There’s a section about the mob and even a representation of Al Capone’s very comfortable prison cell.
If you want you can pick up a “Top Detective Challenge” booklet when you enter the building and try to locate a missing medallion during the tour.
Admission to Alcatraz East is $24.95 for adults, $18.95 for students and $13.95 for children. The military and law enforcement officers get a break and are charged $18.95. The attraction is located at 2757 Parkway and you can get information online at www.alcatrazeast.com call them at (865) 453-3278. You may want to go early or during the week because free parking behind the attraction is very limited.