After nearly six months of anticipating the sight of yellow chairs again gliding up and down Crockett Mountain, the wait is now over for friends and fans of the Gatlinburg Sky Lift. The entirely new scenic chairlift opens at 9:00a.m. on Friday, May 26.
The Sky Lift team is honored to have Gatlinburg Mayor, Mike Werner and Sevier County Major, Larry Waters along with other special guests from the City of Gatlinburg, and Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce and CVB attending the opening. At 9:00am, Mayor Werner and Mayor Waters will depart in the celebratory ‘First Chair’.
Access to the new chairlift has changed in minor ways and visitors will recognize that little has changed at the attraction’s street-level facility. However, stepping into position to load, changes are very apparent. The new chairs are an upgrade as all 92 now accommodate up to three people in each. The lift’s eleven orange towers and cross arms are taller than those of the previous lift, therefore riders are eight to ten feet higher when in motion. The mountaintop overlook--Gatlinburg Sky Deck, remains closed and because the ongoing construction makes the area unsafe, riders are restricted from unloading at the top. Until completion in early fall, the Sky Lift experience allows riders to relax as the chair moves smoothly around the top wheel and without getting off, they are on their way back down with a wide-angle view of the majestic Smoky Mountains as well as an overhead view of Gatlinburg. The roundtrip ride is approximately 18 minutes.
The $2.6 million project began with removal of the Riblet chairlift that received significant damage during the November 2016 wildfires. Manufactured and installed by Doppelmayr, the advanced system introduces riders to a three-person chair, an upgrade from the double chairs on the previous lift. The yellow chairs were specially designed with wooden slats to resemble the chairs that are unmistakable in millions of treasured photos taken over the years. Orange towers were also selected to carry forward the iconic presence of this attraction among the Gatlinburg landscape.
The mountaintop Sky Deck is expected to open during the early fall season and will feature expansive umbrellas for shaded relaxation, comfortable seating, and elements that provide educational detail and facts about what’s in view and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Plans for a gift shop and restaurant are in process and currently forecasted to open in early 2018.
“We are both excited and proud that we’re able to invite riders back to the Sky Lift,” said General Manager of the Gatlinburg Sky Lift, Randy Watson. “It was never a question of whether we would be back. We’re back stronger than ever, have big expansion plans, and are truly grateful for the encouragement and support we continue to receive from the City of Gatlinburg and fans of the Sky Lift from all over the country.”
The attraction opened in 1954 and in recent years has welcomed more than 450,000 riders annually. The Sky Lift team and its operator, Boyne Resorts, regard the rebuild as an investment in the community and look forward to continued investment as the area rebounds to again be among the top destinations in America.
Hours of operation through June are 9:00am to 9:00pm and single-ride ticket prices are $12 for adults, $9 for children. Unlimited ride tickets are offered, plus military and group discounts are available.
For more information about Gatlinburg Sky Lift, please visit www.gatlinburgskylift.com.
### About Boyne Resorts – Boyne Resorts is the largest family owned four-season resort company in North America; founded in 1947 by Everett Kircher. A Michigan-based corporation, Boyne Resorts owns and/or operates award-winning mountain and golf resorts and attractions throughout the United States and Canada including Cypress Mountain near Vancouver, British Columbia, official freestyle skiing and snowboard venue of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, Sugarloaf and Sunday River Resort in Maine, Boyne Mountain, Boyne Highlands, Inn at Bay Harbor – Autograph Collection and Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark in Michigan, Big Sky Resort in Montana, Loon Mountain in New Hampshire, Gatlinburg Sky Lift in Tennessee, Brighton in Utah, and The Summit at Snoqualmie in Washington. For more information on Boyne Resorts, please visit www.boyneresorts.com.