Anakeesta Announces Largest Expansion since opening in 2017


Gatlinburg Adventure Theme Park Embarks on a $34 Million Multi-phased Expansion Project Today, Anakeesta announced a multimillion-dollar expansion. This marks their most ambitious and largest development to date. Overlooking Gatlinburg, the mountaintop adventure park is home to some of the most breathtaking views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The expansion will double the size of the guest experience within the park and solidifies Anakeesta as one of the top adventure theme parks in the country. The unprecedented $34 million investment will happen over the next three years. New additions include: an enchanted night walk with immersive lighting and audio guiding guests through a celestial story within the woods; a second thrilling mountain coaster; a European-themed village with shopping, dining and immersive plaza with an interactive waterfall; and a brand-new whimsical bird house themed play area with enormous adventure elements down the mountain and more.

“As Gatlinburg’s iconic destination, we’re excited to continue offering Tennessee visitors incomparable adventures that elevate the Smoky Mountain guest experience,” said Bob Bentz, Founder and Managing Partner of Anakeesta. “This historic expansion will take our park to new heights with unparalleled moments of magic and extraordinary mountain thrills that only Anakeesta and the Great Smoky Mountains can deliver.”

The first phase of the expansion will open this November. In partnership with Moment Factory, an award-winning multimedia entertainment studio headquartered in Montreal, Canada, Anakeesta guests will take a nighttime journey through a Smoky Mountain Forest where they will experience illuminating encounters of lighting, projection, and sound to connect with the mystery of the stars on a magical Astra Lumina Enchanted Night Walk. This will be Moment Factory’s 15th Lumina Night Walk experience and the first in the United States. Astra Lumina is a sensory experience like no other.

In the Spring of 2023, the first part of a European-Themed Village will open as Anakeesta further expands its adventure offerings with two new attractions for the young and young-at-heart. The first is BirdVenture: a birdhouse-inspired play zone where guests can imagine life as a bird in the Smokies. Kids of all ages will experience three larger-than-life birdhouses, a dozen adventure zones, and seven giant serpentine slides winding more than 50 feet down the mountain! This unique series of slide paths marks another first of its kind in the United States.

The second attraction is a thrilling new mountain coaster that boasts experiential tunnels, with twists and turns through the forest giving guests an exciting downhill adventure. The new double-rail mountain coaster will be themed to the native Smoky Mountain salamander species, giving it the perfect name of Hellbender. With this new installation, Anakeesta will have both a single-rail and double-rail mountain coaster for the entire family to enjoy.

The first phase of this expansion project also includes a new interactive mountain waterfall and cave system surrounded by walking trails and Anakeesta’s iconic lush gardens. Guests will be able to walk behind the falls and explore the caves within this water feature designed to evoke the natural beauty of waterfalls found throughout hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains. Every element highlights the beauty of the surrounding natural environment for an authentic Smoky Mountain experience.

All the adventure coming in Spring of 2023 means there also needs to be an opportunity to relax and recharge. Within the new village, guests will be able to do just that at Mimi’s Bakery. The new French-inspired bakery will serve sweet and savory delights. Along with the bakery, Anakeesta will be opening first phase of the largest themed retail area the park has ever built.

“Anakeesta’s continued investment into expanding its park will allow even more visitors the opportunity to experience the authentic wonder and beauty of the Gatlinburg area,” said Gatlinburg Mayor Mike Werner. “These planned developments at Anakeesta will continue to add to the many reasons visitors will have to choose Gatlinburg as their vacation destination.”

As Anakeesta looks ahead, the rest of the park’s vast expansion will continue as the village opens in phases throughout 2024. Once completed, Anakeesta will transport guests to a unique and iconic mountaintop village that has been designed with nature in mind and adorned with touches of aged copper, stone, and wood. Future elements will include a heavily themed restaurant and brewery, event center, and entertainment stage with indoor and outdoor seating.

“These expansions at Anakeesta provide even more compelling reasons for vacationers to choose a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, our country’s most visited national park,” said Mark Ezell, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. “The variety of authentic adventures offered in Tennessee is becoming even more elevated and unique with each of these new tourism mountain experiences.” Guests are invited to follow along on this exceptional construction journey on Anakeesta’s social media platforms for exclusive behind-the-scenes content and insider peeks!

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Anakeesta is Gatlinburg, Tennessee’s award-winning theme park surrounded by the majestic Smoky Mountains. Anakeesta is a place for adventure and relaxation, exploration and wonder. A place where people of all ages can discover nature and family entertainment. The exploration begins with a scenic chondola ride or Ridge Rambler adventure vehicle to the summit to enjoy all day, unlimited access. Guests can stroll along the nation’s longest Treetop Skywalk and climb Anavista Tower for 360⁰ views from downtown Gatlinburg’s highest point. Walk meandering pathways in Vista Gardens, a multi-sensory botanical garden featuring whimsical art installations, music, and scenic overlooks. TreeVenture and BearVenture challenge courses will delight all ages. Innovative culinary creations and mixology await throughout the park. Thrill seekers can add to the adventure with the Dueling Zipline Adventure course, soar on the Rail Runner Mountain coaster and find treasure at Anakeesta Gem Mining. Anakeesta