Since it opened in 2017, the Anakeesta theme park has taken its place among Gatlinburg’s top tourist draws and earned no shortage of plaudits, including the 2018 Tennessee Hospitality and Tourism Association’s “Best Attraction of the Year” Award and the 2018 Sevier County Hospitality and Tourism Association’s “New Attraction of the Year” honor.
Young as it still is, Anakeesta’s evolving before our eyes. This year, the park’s undergoing some significant expansion, with some thrilling new facilities already open and more due for the fall. Here’s a quick look at what’s already premiered and what’s still on the horizon at Anakeesta!
Newly Opened Attractions at Anakeesta
Anakeesta’s freshly debuted AnaVista Tower, which rises above the verdure of Vista Gardens, now stands as the loftiest structure in downtown Gatlinburg and an incredible perch to take in the town and its magnificent mountain surrounds. Climb the 78 steps and bask in an unforgettable panorama with sightlines stretching into Kentucky. Interpretive signage helps you identify peaks on the horizon—an especially cool feature. Photo ops aplenty, to put it mildly!
Then there’s the TreeVenture Challenge Course, an absolute arboreal blast. Three treehouses come linked by net bridges to form a delightful up-in-the-air fun zone, with slides incorporated into the multilevel structure as well.
Anakeesta has also added a new entertainment hub in the form of a plaza and stage to host live music and show outdoor movies.
Anakeesta Coming Attractions
There’s more coming down the pike at Anakeesta, as well. In Fall 2020, the theme park will open the Smokehouse Brewery, sure to be an exciting new addition to Gatlinburg’s dining scene. The restaurant promises each seat will enjoy a prospect of Mount LeConte, the third-highest summit in the Great Smoky Mountains and one of the East’s most all-around impressive peaks. There’ll be indoor seating walled with glass and an outdoor patio as well. If you’re a craft-beer connoisseur, you’ll be happy to know Smokehouse Brewery will be pouring local brews at both its inside bar and a walk-up window: Get ready to wet your whistle!
Also slated to debut this fall will be a new water play zone anchored by a feature evoking a Southern Appalachian mountain creek, including a waterfall. This’ll be a fine place for the whole fam to cool off on a hot afternoon, needless to say.
Anakeesta is also in the process of expanding its handsome Vista Garden—a relaxing mosaic of garden beds, pergolas, a playground, and a walk-through gnome village—with such additions as an accessible ramp. The park is also setting up new fire pits and restrooms.
Finally, Anakeesta expects to complete repairs and upgrades to its popular Treetop Skywalk—at more than 800 feet, the longest canopy bridge in North America—by late summer. The Skywalk proved pretty darn resilient in the face of the powerful storm that hit Gatlinburg this past spring—we’re talking winds as high as 100 miles per hour—but a few trees fell across some sections of its sky-bridges and currently the complex is only partly open.
All the More to See & Do at Anakeesta
The observation tower, water play zone, Smokehouse Brewery, and other new additions to Anakeesta build on what’s already a heck of a Smoky Mountain experience. Getting to the summit of Anakeesta Mountain and its Firefly Village is itself a heck of a good time, whether you choose the Chondola lift or a ride in one of the park’s Ridge Ramblers. Anakeesta offers the only single-rail mountain coaster in the country—the Rail Runner, which lets solo or tandem riders reach up to 25 miles per hour on a twisting-and-turning downhill—as well as the high-paced fun of the Dueling Zipline Adventure. There’s also the Treehouse Village Adventure—not to be confused with the brand-new TreeVenture Challenge Course—and the Anakeesta Gem Mine to take in.
Anakeesta’s already made quite the name for itself, and its 2020 expansion seems likely to only cement its reputation as one of the Great Smoky Mountain area’s top-draw theme parks.