24 Hours In The Bass Pro Pyramid
Last week, I set out to accomplish something that had never been done before, at least that I know of: spend 24 hours inside the Bass Pro Pyramid. Why? For a couple of reasons. First off, I wanted to prove to people that the thing really exists and is open, and is definitely not just some bait shop.
Second, I wanted to experience it the way a visitor (or staycationer) might, and stay in the hotel, eat the food, see the sights…do everything there is to do. Finally, I've been receiving lots of questions about the Pyramid, and I figured the best way to get answers was to see for myself and report back. (That's what I always aim to do whenever possible: provide you with a first hand account of what's worth doing and talking about in Memphis.)
Here's how it went.
Monday, 1 p.m. – Hotel Check-In
The Bass Pro Pyramid has a luxury hotel inside called Big Cypress Lodge. The 100+ rooms are on the second and third floors and have porches with views into the main retail area. A few of the rooms do have windows to the outside. The rooms are really nice.
All rooms have a fireplace, jacuzzi jet tub, basket of free snacks, and all kinds of hand-carved details. I checked into mine (pictured above) and then took a tour of the rest of Big Cypress Lodge. More on the room later.
Bass Pro Myth #1: All the hotel rooms are booked for two years, true or false? False. There are rooms available. Give them a call to see if your dates will work.
There's also a spa inside the hotel, where you can get massages, manicures, pedicures, and skin treatments. It smells like lavender heaven in there.
The hotel lobby on the third floor. Big Cypress Lodge has several meeting and events spaces, including an outdoor patio.
3 p.m. – Explore the Pyramid.
There's so much to tell about the actual store part of Bass Pro Pyramid. I'll try to break it down a bit, but you have to see it for yourself. The looks on people's faces when they walk onto the retail floor are pretty priceless.
The first thing you'll notice is the elevator: it lights up in changing colors, and it's the tallest freestanding elevator in the nation.
After that, you might notice that the whole place is filled with fake cypress trees; the craftsmanship is incredible. There are also giant fossil imprints hand-carved in the floor, taxidermy in every direction, and an aquarium on the first floor.
There are indoor ponds, occupied by fish, some ducks and boats, some of which you can get on. You wouldn't buy a boat without setting foot on its deck first, would you?
They're on a boat!
Other things you find on the first floor of retail: all kinds of clothes – everything from North Face stuff to campy t-shirts to swimsuits, plus shoes, an actual hut for a Sunglass Hut, ATVs, camp recliners, gifts, toys, and every kind of fishing supply you can think of.
At one point, I saw a guy walking with an adorable one-eyed pug so I asked if dogs were allowed. Answer: yes, animals on leashes are allowed in the retail area, but only service animals are allowed in the restaurants and hotel.
Bass Pro Myth #2: There's an alligator tank, true or false? True. There are currently two gators chillin' in a tank right next to the nation's tallest freestanding elevator.
4 p.m. – "Time For Fudge"
I took a quick break to sample the cinnamon roll flavored fudge in the general store area. Rich and delicious.
4:15 p.m. – Second Floor and Ducks Unlimited Waterfowl Heritage Center
On the second floor, there's a whole area for grills and smokers, every kind of hunting anything ever, more camo than I would have thought possible, camping supplies, tons of guns, and the Ducks Unlimited Waterfowl Hertitage Center, which is basically a small museum dedicated to the history and artifacts of duck hunting.
These gentleman explained to me, in detail, the difference and uses for different camo patterns. They really know their stuff. Also: "This one [on the left] is good for hunting deer…or if you just want to look like a leaf."
The kind Ducks Unlimited guide gave me a crash course in the history of duck-hunting and showed off their very rare collection of antique duck calls, and lots of decoys.
5 p.m. – Archery Range
I got in touch with my inner Katniss with the help of the staff at the Archery Range. The range is open to people who have their own bows, or to people who are seriously about to buy a bow and need to try it out. They were kind enough to measure me up and fit me with a light, beginner bow. I was a pretty decent shot.
7 p.m. – Observation Deck
After an afternoon snack and a break in my Big Cypress Lodge room – during which I discovered that the crackling fireplace comes on at the flip of a switch – it was time to turn things up.
Bass Pro Myth #3: It costs $50 to go up in the elevator, true or false? It depends. It's $10 per person, so if you're paying for your family of five, then yes, it will cost $50. But it's not $50 per person. Kids are $5 before 4 p.m.
Tickets to the elevator are included for each guest staying in the Big Cypress Lodge, but otherwise you go to The Lookout kiosk and purchase right before you get on the elevator.
When you make it to the top, you're free to hang around as long as you like. There are outdoor decks facing south and west, and another indoor observation area facing north. Currently, your $10 also gets you a drink (booze included, if you so desire) and a photo that you get a code to later see and download online. No selfie sticks needed!
Given my recent (failed) attempt to conquer my fear of heights, I thought I would be terrified. But I enjoyed the ride up and venturing out on the deck. I only got a few butterflies when I stepped across the glass floor.
7:30 p.m. – Sunset
Sweeping views of Memphis, an electric pink and orange sky, a lovely breeze, and a refreshing vodka-lemonade all made for an unforgettable sunset. No really: I won't ever forget that. Worth the $10 for sure.
Bass Pro Myth #4: there's a restaurant on the top of the Pyramid, true or false? True. Or at least, there will be after June 1 when The Lookout opens.
I wish I could tell you more about the restaurant. I kept bugging people to reveal something to me, and heard all manner of things: it will be a catfish restaurant, a fine dining restaurant, flatbreads will be on the menu, that your $10 elevator ticket can be turned in for a food discount or voucher. I couldn't get anyone to confirm anything, so I'll be waiting along with you to find out.
The Lookout has such a cool atmosphere. There will be an aquarium in the center of the circular bar. I can't wait until this is open.
8 p.m. Bowling With Uncle Buck
The bowling alley at Uncle Buck's Fish Bowl is worth doing for the atmosphere alone. It's so fun and festive. The ball returns are shaped like fish, sharks, and gators, everything is bathed in blue light and decor that makes you feel like you're underwater, and the dining room has a saltwater aquarium. Yeah, they have bowling shoes.
The menu is your standard American grill food. We tried the alligator bites, the fish tacos, a huge burger, and a couple of drinks. I didn't have to wait too long, but fair warning: I've heard the wait times for a table and food can be quite long. Prices were not unreasonable based on what I expected from this kind of attraction. See a photo of the menu here.
Get yourself a fish bowl filled with Uncle Buck's version of a Walk-Me-Down cocktail. You don't have to share, but you might want to.
If you're planning on bowling, I think it's convenient and fun to get some pizzas and drinks, maybe some appetizers or a burger. I can see kids having a blast at a birthday party here (they do have packages).
If you have your heart set on dining in Uncle Bucks, put your name on the list (or at least ask about wait times) as soon as you arrive at the Pyramid. That way you can explore, ride the elevator, and shop while you wait. Of course wait times will depend on when you go.
10 p.m. – Bath time and bed time.
There was no way I was going to stay in that beautiful room without taking advantage of the huge jacuzzi jet tub, so it was time for an epic bubble bath. While I'd been out, a bag of chocolate marshmallow cookies had appeared on the bedside table.
Tuesday, 7:30 a.m. – Coffee on the porch
I don't think I moved all night long, as I was completely surrounded by fluffy clouds of softness otherwise known as covers and pillows. The most comfy bed I've ever slept in, for sure. I woke up rested and made some coffee in the room to enjoy on the "porch" and watch Bass Pro come to life.
8:30 a.m. – Room Service
I did see a sign that Uncle Buck's has a breakfast buffet, but I went for the room service for breakfast in the morning. I've never ordered room service before, and I may have overdone it…but that was fun.
I realize I was sitting in a huge glass Pyramid, but I was really excited by those adorable tiny ketchup and jam jars!
10 a.m. – RNT Duck Call Center and Beretta Center
If you're into duck hunting, you're going to love the custom RNT duck call kiosk Bass Pro has on the second floor. You can get your call polished, engraved, fixed up, tuned whatever you need – all of these things I had no idea were involved with duck calls.
One of several store-within-a-store concepts, the Beretta Center (part of which is pictured above) is set up to look very classy, and is full of guns.
Also: there is a shooting arcade game on the first floor and it has a weird gopher-infested shipwreck theme.
11:30 a.m. – Shopping
I headed back out to the retail floor for some shopping to finish out my stay at the Big Cypress Lodge and Bass Pro Pyramid. My family will get a Bass Pro-themed "care package" very soon, I got a huge box of fudge to take to friends, and I may or may not own a catfish koozie now.
1 p.m. – Time to leave "Paradise" and final thoughts
The bottom line is that Bass Pro Pyramid will be worth a visit to quite a few people. The Bass Pro staff is extremely friendly and helpful, and the Big Cypress Lodge staff in particular seemed trained to provide a friendly, luxury experience.
If you're a hardcore outdoors person, it goes without saying that this is kind of like your Disney World. Even if you're not into the outdoors or attractions, it's an entertaining spectacle with a genuinely impressive view at the top and darn good fudge.
If you want to see more photos from my 24-hour stay in Memphis' Bass Pro Pyramid, go here.
As with any major visitor attraction, when you go at peak times (weekends, for example) there will potentially be long lines and waits for food, elevator, parking, etc. Prepare yourself accordingly, plan to go for a less busy time during the week if you're able, or keep in mind there's a chance there won't be as much of a crowd after the initial opening period. No promises on the latter, though. As the largest single retailer location in the world, the Pyramid is going to draw a crowd.
Bass Pro's posted hours online are Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., but I'll say that when I was there on Monday night, people were in there until nearly 11 p.m. The store is ADA accessible, and there are several ADA-accessible hotel rooms. As for Big Cypress Lodge: rates start at $260 and go all the way up to $1200+ for the Governor's suite with several rooms that sleeps eight.
There were tons of families with strollers, a couple of leashed dogs, and even a woman with a cart full of cats on leashes. There seemed to be a decent amount of parking available on the south and southwest side of the Pyramid; there is also a valet service.
Bass Pro Pyramid
1 Bass Pro Drive
Memphis, Tennessee 38105
Big Cypress Lodge
1 Bass Pro Drive
Memphis, Tennessee 38105
1-800-225-6343 or (901) 620-4600
Editor's Note/disclaimer: A huge thank you to the staff and promotional team at the Big Cypress Lodge for helping me out with this story. I was a guest of Big Cypress Lodge during my time at Bass Pro, which made this story possible. Also a big thanks to the Bass Pro and Uncle Buck's staffs who were very helpful with tours, info, and more. As is the usual editorial policy, all of the opinions in this post are mine; I haven't been paid to guarantee positive reviews.