The laser show at Stone Mountain Park, a perennial favorite

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The largest high relief sculpture in the world, the Confederate Memorial Carving, depicts three Confederate heroes of the Civil War, President Jefferson Davis and Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. The entire carved surface measures three-acres, larger than a football field and Mount Rushmore. The carving of the three men towers 400 feet above the ground, measures 90 by 190 feet, and is recessed 42 feet into the mountain. The deepest point of the carving is at Lee’s elbow, which is 12 feet to the mountain’s surface.

Don’t ask me how I’ve lived in the ATL for 15 years and NEVER seen the laser show at Stone Mountain Park. There is simply no excuse! But my friend Sue wanted to go and despite the monsoon that is Atlanta weather lately, we went.

But we took a few precautions. The traditional way to do the laser show is to spread out a blanket and have a picnic (no alcohol allowed) on the lawn. Even if the forecast hadn’t predicted thunderstorms, the ground was bound to be waterlogged from almost three solid weeks of rain, so a picnic didn’t seem like the best idea. A tiny bit of online research (how did we learn about things before the World Wide Web?) showed additional options. We bought tickets ($25 each, plus tax and $10 “parking” fee to enter park) for Terrace Seating with Dinner. The ticket included a buffet dinner (BBQ Pork, Fried Chicken, baked beans, potato salad, rolls), dessert (ice cream cup in vanilla or chocolate), beverages (I didn’t see any sodas, but there was plenty of lemonade, ice tea & water), unlimited popcorn (until the start of the show) AND a free glow item. It was well worth the money, even a value. BUT it wasn’t everything that the website promised:  this was just terrace seating NOT reserved seating as the site specifically says.

The terrace at Memorial Hall, with kids playing with their free "glow" item.
The terrace at Memorial Hall, with kids playing with their free “glow” item.

For those who have never tried this option, I recommend it. BUT it would have been MUCH easier with more information–which easily could have been printed on the ticket. In fact, the ticket didn’t tell you much at all, so we drove to the park blind. At the gate we were given horrible directions to where we needed to go (“bear left,  then go a half mile, no, maybe a mile…well, no more than a mile and a half. Then it’s the second parking lot on the left.” It was the parking lot on the right.) Frankly, we were lucky. We happened to pull into the correct parking lot (by chance) and I went to the ticket booth because they seemed to be the best place to get information. “Terrace” isn’t a place on the map. And it isn’t a restaurant. What they mean is the back terrace of Memorial Hall. It has a roof, but that isn’t much protection from the elements. And they also don’t mention that if you buy the ticket online, you have to redeem it (printed or right off your phone) at a ticket booth.

Here's the crowd, waiting for the start of the laser show, typically 9:30p during the summer.
Here’s the crowd, waiting for the start of the laser show, typically 9:30p during the summer. This was a light crowd because of the weather forecast.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m a “more information” type of person. I depend on the information in websites and tickets. I don’t like to have to continuously ask where to go next. I was frustrated. It is a fun event and I highly recommend it to everyone. But they do the laser show every single day of the summer so it seems like they could have this well organized.

I do want to add that the lovely woman who waited on us at the terrace (Gina?) was fabulous. I could not have asked for better customer service. It’s been my experience that Stone Mountain Park employees are exceptionally kind and concerned about making sure that you have a positive experience. It was this that made up for the lack of communication.

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In the end, for me, while the communication could have been better, the dinner was acceptable, the customer service excellent and the laser show exceeded my expectations. And that was despite rain and heavy crowds. A very good evening!

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