Gatlinburg’s Hollywood Star Cars Museum Review & Visitor Experience
There are certain places in the United States that are known for being family vacation destinations, and eastern Tennessee is one of those. For families on the East Coast and in the Midwest, the Smoky Mountains region has been a go-to weekend retreat for hiking, drinking, and sightseeing.
In addition to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there’s a lot to see and do in the nearby towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. While walking the main Parkway strip of downtown Gatlinburg, you’ll see a two-story building overflowing with cool vehicles. The Hollywood Star Cars Museum may look like a tourist trap, but it’s one of the most interesting sites in town.
Hollywood Star Cars Museum
- Address: 914 Parkway, Gatlinburg, Tennessee 37738 (at traffic light #8)
- Phone: 865-430-2200
- Directions: Downtown Gatlinburg can be accessed via US HWY 441 or HWY 321. You’ll find the museum on the main Parkway strip next to Ripley’s Haunted Adventure and the convention center.
- Parking: Multiple paid city parking lots within walking distance
- Cost: Walk-up admission is $12.99 for adults, $6.99 for youth (ages 6-12), and free for those under 6. Online admission is $10.99/$5.99. Prices don’t include tax.
- Hours: Open 9am-10pm every day
- Handicap Accessible: Those with physical disabilities are able to enter the museum through the main entrance (no stairs) and can use the elevator to reach the second floor.
Driving to Gatlinburg? We have travelling tips for navigating the area
It wasn’t hard to spot the museum with its humongous Marvel Avengers display out front and the replica Batmobile hanging from the second story window. You’ll be able to see most of the open-air first floor without even walking in the gate; don’t worry, there’s plenty more to see inside.
The museum’s ticket booth is prominently situated along the sidewalk in front of the building. The attendant will probably be trying to grab your attention as you walk by, hoping to offer you a coupon. They’re willing to find a way to give you a discount (pamphlet coupons, AAA, etc) on admission so you’ll agree to enter. While some may find that heckling, I found that quite helpful and accommodating. We paid for our admission in advance online, so we just handed the attendant our printed email and walked through the turnstile gate.
The first and second floors (accessible via a staircase) are packed with authentic cars to see on a self-guided tour. There are over 40 recognizable vehicles on display, most of them from movies and television shows, with a couple privately-owned celebrity rides. The majority of them were created by the legendary George Barris, who has helped make the museum what it is today. You can learn about his work in a miniature “drive-in” theater on the second floor which plays a short video on loop.
Some of many cars currently featured include:
- Two Batmobiles
- Back to the Future‘s DeLorean DMC-12
- Half a dozen Fast and Furious cars like 1970 Jenson Interceptor & Dodge Daytona Charger
- Days of Thunder‘s Mello Yello stock car
- Paul McCartney’s Cadillac
- Eleanor from Gone in 60 Seconds
- 1982 Jeep Pickup from Twister
- Michael Jackson’s 1985 Mercedes-Benz 500 SEL
- Bumblebee 1977 Chevy Camaro from Transformers
- Talking K.I.T.T. 1982 Pontiac Trans Am from Knight Rider
In addition, the Hollywood Star Cars Museum owns a James Bond firearms collection and the largest collection of 007 memorabilia in the United States.
Despite them not being roped off, you cannot touch the vehicles or sit in them–apart from the Flintstones mobile–but for an additional cost, you can sit in a vehicle of your choice to have your picture taken. The prices vary and are posted on each vehicle, typically around $9-11. I didn’t participate in this, but it’s not a bad price for a souvenir. Speaking of souvenirs, there’s a gift shop on the first floor that sells a variety of model die-cast toys of movie cars–including some of the ones displayed in the museum–as well as higher-end collectibles.
Depending on your pace, the museum will take you 60 minutes to walk, read the signs, and take pictures.
Looking for Other Gatlinburg Attractions? Check out this one-of-a-kind museum you won’t find anywhere else
This year was my first ever trip to Gatlinburg, and when I was planning attractions to visit, I knew I had to visit the Hollywood Star Cars Museum. If it had all the authentic vehicles it advertised, it would be worth seeing. I knew that I’d be getting to see a variety of vehicles from pop culture, and that aspect didn’t disappoint. The sheer amount and variety of vehicles packed into the building was impressive.
What also impressed me was how each vehicle was displayed; they weren’t just parked in a line on an empty floor. Each car was surrounded by a diorama of replica set locations, wax statue characters, memorabilia, audio-visual footage, informational placards, and more. Certain cars have loops of video clips accompanying them, sometimes with specially-recorded interviews or audio just for the exhibit. Since the cars aren’t running, some of them have audio recordings of their engines running so you can hear what they sound like.
It’s a lot of effort that didn’t have to be made, but the curators cared enough to make the experience that immersive and satisfying.
The walkways–which look like roads–are somewhat tight, but the museum wasn’t that crowded when I attended, even on a weekend. You just may need to wait for people to pass before taking pictures–and pictures are encouraged, so bring your camera.
Your ultimate experience at the Hollywood Star Cars Museum will heavily depend on your expectations and personal preference. If you’re expecting a tourist trap, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how nice of a museum it is. If you don’t like cars, movies, television, or celebrities, you’ll be bored silly.
There are a lot of tourist traps in the Gatlinburg area that promise you fleeting excitement for a wad of cash and fail to deliver. Hollywood Star Cars Museum isn’t one of those. It does an excellent job preserving original vehicles from movies and presents them in a way that will make any car-lover gleeful. Plus, it’s a great diversion to explore in between moonshine tastings.
Aaron is unashamed to be a native Clevelander and the proud driver of a 1995 Saturn SC-2 (knock on wood). He gleefully utilizes his background in theater, literature, and communication to dramatically recite his own articles to nearby youth. Mr. Widmar happily resides in Dayton, Ohio with his magnificent wife, Vicki, but is often on the road with her exploring new destinations. Aaron has high aspirations for his writing career but often gets distracted pondering the profound nature of the human condition and forgets what he was writing… See more articles by Aaron.