Anakeesta is located in Gatlinburg, TN and is claimed as:
“A Magical Theme Park in the Mountains.”
This 70-acre theme park is located right off the main strip in Gatlinburg, TN. It is conveniently located right in the heart of the small mountain town, which attracts millions of visitors each year.
With so many things to do in Gatlinburg, you may be wondering if Anakeesta is worth your time and money.
Let’s first talk about the attraction itself, then discuss how you can save on what you want to do. You may not know this but we are actually local to the area. That means we have some insider tips.
The Anakeesta Experience
Anakeesta is pretty new to Gatlinburg and offers visitors beautiful views, photo ops, and fun.
Entering the park: The Chondola and Ridge Rambler
The Chondola is one of two ways you will access Anakeesta. The ride will take you up over 600 feet to the top of Anakeesta Mountain where you will enter into Firefly Village.
There are two types of Chondola lifts you can choose from. The 4-passenger metal lift is the quickest line to go through.
You and your family can also ride the 6-passenger enclosed Chondola to get to Firefly Village. These are the lifts that you will see Anakeesta advertise everywhere. Unfortunately, you’ll be waiting much longer to ride one of these because they actually don’t have many of them to use.
Not into heights? The other method you can use to reach the top is the Ridge Rambler, which is a large multi-passenger truck. We’ve never ridden this truck, but the admission employee said it comes around about every 20-30 minutes.
How to speed up your wait time to enter Anakeesta:
When our family visited Anakeesta, it took one hour to to get through the lines and reach the top. We even took the quicker, 4-passenger Chondola.
You can drastically cut down your wait time by ordering an Express Pass online. Unfortunately, you can’t get any of the discounts mentioned below online but if you don’t qualify for discounts anyway, buying online will save you a lot of time.
Anakeesta Shops and Eats
When you have arrived at Firefly Village, you will experience breath-taking views of the Smoky Mountains. You’ll also be met with several places to shop and eat.
Here are the restaurants you will find at Anakeesta:
- Serves American cuisine
- BBQ of pulled pork, chicken, and brisket
- Kephart Cafe
- Quick bites. (Hot dogs and flatbread pizza.)
- The Tap House
- Enjoy local craft beers
- Pearl’s Pie In The Sky
- Homemade fried pies, cookies, brownies, ice cream, and sundaes
All eateries come with a beautiful view of Mt. Leconte and the Smoky Mtn scenery.
*Note* What do you get when you mix beautiful gardens and food? Bees. Be prepared for them. When we visited in October, our daughter got stung and so did several other people. They even shut down the tower due to bees. If you do get stung, visit the desk at the entrance as they may have something to help there.
The Rail Runner is one of the rides that you need to pay extra for. You can pay for it at the ticket booth or when you get to the ride.
This ride claims to have 3 minutes of downhill twists and turns, however, you shouldn’t believe that. You control the speed so if you want it to be 3 minutes, you better go at the speed of a snail.
This 1-hour adventure will take you through the tree line of Anakeesta Mtn. Through the journey, you will zipline between several platforms that surround the park and you will get to rappel from each platform.
If you do the zipline, you’ll get a personal guide and group to go with.
The Vista Gardens was one of my favorite attractions in Anakeesta. The gardens offer beautiful flowers, play areas for the kids, mountain views, and unique photo opportunities.
When we visited in October, the park was also decorated in Halloween decor. The detail was pretty awesome. There were fish and frog skeletons, tombstones, and more.
Bearventure is a small rope climbing course perfect for the small kiddos.
Treeventure Challenge Course
Once you finish with Bearventure, head up to the Treeventure Challenge Course. It is fun for all ages that are physically able to climb in a tree fort.
We filmed part of this course in our video at the top of the page.
Here you can run, climb, jump, and slide from the tree fort you always wished you had as a kid. Don’t forget to go down the multi-level slide.
This was one of our favorite things to do a the park. The only problem was that it is hard to around when it was crowded.
One of my favorite photo ops in Vista Gardens is the loveable tree giant named Willow.
Willow is not made of wood, but he is a really cool design to touch and climb on.
AnaVista offers a 360-degree view of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are seating areas at the top to relax and take in the views.
At the top of this tower, they have directional markers and signs to let you know what you are looking at. The view in the picture above is facing east, which is showing North Carolina.
The last stop on your adventure at Anakeesta is the TreeTop Skywalk. This is the longest tree-based skywalk in North America! It stretches 880 feet and leads you directly back to the Chondola at the front of the park. Therefore, you should save this for last.
As you take in forest beauty on the skywalk, you can also see some of the damage left from the 2016 Gatlinburg fire.
*Note* Be careful walking on this bridge because there are some slick spots that could make you fall – even when it’s dry.
- Adults (12-59) $21.99
- Children (4-11) $17.99 (3 and under are free)
- Senior (60 plus) $19.99
General admission will get you into the park itself and give you access to the gardens, skywalk, rope courses, and the tower. However, if you want to ride the Rail Runner (the mountain coaster) or the zipline, you’ll have to shell out some extra cash.
IF YOU ARE AN ADRENALINE SEEKER LOOKING FOR A ROLLERCOASTER… you may want to skip out on the Rail Runner. In my opinion, it wasn’t worth the cost. The ride wasn’t nearly long enough and the line to get on moved slowly.
If you want to go a mountain coaster, I think Ober Gatlinburg’s coaster is better. However, I’m really not a fan of either. If you’re looking for coaster adrenaline, seek your thrills elsewhere, such as Skydive or Dollywood.
Here is the current pricing for the Rail Runner and Dueling Zip-line:
- Single Rider: $12.99
- Tandem Rider: $14.99
Tandem riders are for riders 7 and under only. (They know this age from the waiver you have to fill out.) Also, if you like the Rail Runner you can ride again for half price.
- Adults (12-59) $56.98
- Children (7-11) $48.98
- Senior (60 plus) $52.98
The Dueling Zipline price includes admission and Express Pass.
Savings at Anakeesta
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Anakeesta allows many ways for visitors to save money. You can find these discounts year-round:
- 10% AAA Discount
- 10% Active or Retired Military Discount for ID Holder and Immediate Family
- 20% Sevier County Locals Discount
If you are vacationing to the area, make sure you ask your hotel for the coupon book for all activities in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Some hotels even offer their guests free tickets to some attractions, so be sure to ask!
Additionally, if you live in the surrounding area of Sevier County, they offer $5 general admission per person one time a year for one week. For 2020, they held this promotion at the end of September.
*Note* the above discounts aren’t just for admission. Ask for discounts on anything you purchase within the park too!
Overall, Anakeesta is a fun half-day adventure. I’d recommend going early in the morning, then coming back to see it in the late evening because the area is lit up when it gets dark. You’ll also be able to see the city lit up, which is cool too.
For more views of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park click here.
P.S. The East Tennessee area loves and appreciates its military serviceman and woman. With that, they offer a ton of discounts at almost any location you go to. You just got to ask for it.