Anakeesta Mountain Park in Gatlinburg – Review
Should You Visit Anakeesta Theme Park In The Smoky Mountains?
Did you know there is a new theme park in Gatlinburg? Anakeesta boasts beautiful mountain views, a long walk through the treetop canopies along rope bridges that have just the right amount of bounce, treehouses, and a Firefly Village full of fun shops and good food!. You can also visit the gardens and find countless butterflies enjoying all the vibrant blooms. It’s a beautiful park. Let me take you through the adventure with me and I’ll tell you whether I think it is worth the cost and what I loved and I what I didn’t.
The ride up is fun! You can take an open lift or wait for a cabin. The open lift is definitely not something I would take a small child on. The bar is really far from your body and it would be too easy for a child to slide out and fall. T has ADHD as most of you know so when he was smaller and very wiggly I would never put him on one of the open ones. That is my opinion though. Other parents didn’t hesitate to load their small children up on them and I even saw a few Moms comfortable enough to put small babies on there with them. Still, the drop gets really far in places. I can’t recommend putting small kids on the open lifts. However, they do offer an alternative, a closed cabin. We had originally decided to wait for a cabin but even though we were there on a Tuesday morning after school had started for the season, and only one other family was waiting for a cabin ahead of us, we still waited for twenty minutes before giving up and switching lines to go get on an open one.
Once on the lift, it takes about fifteen minutes to get to the top. On the way down, we did catch a cabin. Personally, I enjoyed the open one better. T preferred the closed one.
Firefly Village at Anakeesta
After you get off the lift, you find yourself in a charming little town called Firefly Village. The first stop on the right is a Bar and Grill offering yummy food and drinks. We did have a few problems at the Cliffside Bar and Grill but the views were spectacular!
A little further into the village you come across this charming little bridge. Pumpkins of every size and shape lined the creek below the bridge.
Everything was decorated for Fall and there were a lot of beautiful backdrops perfect for family pictures. Like this one of my sister and T!
Vista Gardens Botanical Walk
From the Village, we made our way to the Vista Gardens Botanical Walk and it was truly lovely. There were a lot of bright and beautiful wildflowers growing everywhere and T was intrigued by how many mushroom varieties were peering from the soil. Vista Gardens also offers this lovely little waterfall which I adored.
There were a lot of butterflies enjoying the flowers right alongside us too. I love butterflies so naturally, I found the Gardens to be among the highlights of our trip.
The Memorial Forest Walk
The south side of Anakeesta Mountain was hit hard by the wildfires that raged through the area on November 28, 2016. I remember watching in horror and praying all night long as I saw the fires surround Gatlinburg. The aquarium is right across the road from Anakeesta and I couldn’t help but remember how frightened I was while those fires were raging closer and closer to the aquarium on my tv screen. It was truly terrifying. The scars remain. The story is told through a series of signs as you walk through but providing an even more powerful impact are the charred trees that continue to grow along the mountainside.
The treehouse village is a really cute little area boasting truly adorable treehouses. Kids can play inside these and climb along the rope bridges connecting them. So cute!
Tree Canopy Walk
Finally, find yourself as high as sixty feet from the earth below as you travel from tree to tree or should I say canopy to canopy! A total of sixteen rope bridges connect to create this unique feature. This was T’s favorite part of the park. But we all loved it!
PROS and CONS at Anakeesta
- CON: My first con is that I do not think the open air lifts are safe for small children and they don’t have anywhere near enough of the closed cabin lifts to make the wait reasonable. They are new and only recently opened so I am hoping they will even out the ratio of cabins to open lifts.
- CON: The second con has to do with the Cliffside Bar and Grill. Again, before I begin please remember they have only recently opened so hopefully a lot of this will be dealt with very soon. Still, for the sake of honesty, our experience was subpar. We had to rely on a tv screen for our menu. When we ordered drinks they didn’t know how to ring them up and the whole check out process took about twenty minutes after we had already waited in line for at least that long. When they finally got them rung up they charged us $2 extra for each of them and couldn’t figure out how to fix it. Also, there were bees everywhere near the tables where you eat. I am allergic to bees so the mass amount of them made me very uncomfortable and I waited outside of the grill while everyone else was inside.
- CON: We were so teased to see the construction of a mountain roller coaster almost complete. We want to ride it. And we will go back once it is done and we can take advantage of it.
- PRO: The views are absolutely gorgeous. You truly feel at the top of the world.
- PRO: The Botanical walk is gorgeous and the way the story of the wildfires is told through pictures along the Memorial Walk is really moving. Very well done.
- PRO: We all loved the walk through the canopies and found the treehouses adorable.
Conclusion: Is it Worth the Price of the Tickets?
In conclusion, we all agreed that Anakeesta is a very cool place. We also all agreed that we would wait and give it some time before we went back. They are still working out a lot of things. Perhaps if we had given them a little more operating time we would have received better service at the grill and they would have figured out how to streamline the loading and unloading at the lifts. Still, all in all, we really enjoyed our day and it was time well spent. We do recommend Anakeesta Theme Park in Gatlinburg as a great family-friendly travel destination. The views, the food, the staff, and the attractions are all lovely. We are confident you will enjoy Anakeesta too!
All The Details About Anakeesta Theme Park In Gatlinburg
Location: 576 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Hours: Opens at 10 am daily
Cost of Tickets: