BREAKING: Anakeesta announces $34 million expansion, the largest yet

a rendering of birdventure at anakeesta

This expansion marks the largest in the park's history. Pictured above: A rendering of the new BirdVenture (rendering courtesy of Anakeesta)

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Today, Anakeesta officials announced a multimillion-dollar expansion coming soon to the mountain theme park, located in Gatlinburg, Tenn.

This will be the largest development to date since the park’s opening in 2017.

Overlooking Gatlinburg, the mountaintop adventure park is home to some of the most beautiful views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The upcoming expansion will double the size of the guest experience. This $34 million investment will happen over the next three years.

“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.”

What is part of the new expansion?

The expansions will happen in phases through 2024, and the first new feature will open this fall. Here are some of the big items you can look forward to as part of Anakeetsa’s record-breaking expansion:

Read Also: Anakeesta vs. Ober Gatlinburg: Which attraction is better?

Anakeesta's new Astra Lumina night walk
Astra Lumina will feature lighting, projection and sound and will be the first attraction of its kind in the U.S. (media photo courtesy of Anakeesta)

1. Astra Lumina

This new enchanted night walk experience has immersive lighting and audio, guiding guests through a celestial story within the woods.

In partnership with Moment Factory, an award-winning multimedia entertainment studio in Montreal, Canada, Anakeesta guests will take a nighttime journey through a Smoky Mountain Forest.

They will experience “illuminating encounters” which feature lighting, projection and sound to connect with the mystery of the stars.

Anakeetsa’s Astra Lumina Enchanted Night Walk will be Moment Factory’s 15th Lumina Night Walk experience and the first of its kind in the United States.

Astra Lumina is sure to be a sensory experience like no other in the Smokies.

2. Hellbender mountain coaster

The second attraction will be a thrilling new mountain coaster that boasts experiential tunnels, with twists and turns through the forest.

The new ride is a double-rail mountain coaster that will be themed to the native Smoky Mountain salamander species, giving it the perfect name of Hellbender.

With this new installation, Anakeesta will have a single-rail and double-rail mountain coaster for the whole family.

rendering of stone village at anakeesta shows a waterfall, restaurants and shops
A rendering of the new Stone Village, which will have a phased opening beginning next spring (rendering courtesy of Anakeesta)

3. A new European-themed village

In the spring of 2023, the first part their new European-themed village will open as Anakeesta further expands its adventure offerings with two new attractions for the young and young-at-heart.

This new European-themed village will feature shopping, dining and an immersive plaza with an interactive waterfall.

One of the new eateries at the village will be Mimi’s Bakery.

This new French-inspired bakery will serve sweet and savory treats. Along with the bakery, Anakeesta will be opening its first phase of the largest themed retail area the park has ever built.

The first phase of Anakeesta’s new 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.

In fact, every element highlights the beauty of the surrounding natural environment for an authentic Smoky Mountain experience.

rendering of bird venture
BirdVenture will be a play zone for the young and young-at-heart (rendering courtesy of Anakeesta)

4. BirdVenture

Last but certainly not least, BirdVenture will be 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.

“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.”

night walk at anakeesta
The new enchanted night walk is opening this fall (media photo courtesy of Anakeesta)

When will the new expansions at Anakeeseta be open?

The Astra Lumina Enchanted Night Walk is opening Oct. 21, 2022. The rest of the massive expansion will continue in phases throughout 2024, with phased openings beginning as early as spring 2023.

Once completed, Anakeesta promises to 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.”

Read Also: What can you do at Anakeesta in Gatlinburg TN? A complete guide

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How much will it cost?

Today’s announcement did not include dollar signs, beyond the $34 million investment. However, tickets are currently on sale for the fall opening of Astra Lumina.

Currently, an admission ticket with the night walk experience costs $49.98 for an adult. Child admission is $32.98 and senior pricing is $40.98.

Of course, prices are subject to change.

If you’re planning a trip to Anakeesta, book in advance with Tripster for regular admission tickets. Note: This does not include the night walk experience.

What do you think about Anakeesta’s announcement? Let us know in the comments below.

Disclaimer: While we do our best to bring you the most up-to-date information, attractions or prices mentioned in this article may vary by season and are subject to change. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any mentioned business, and have not been reviewed or endorsed these entities. Contact us at [email protected] for questions or comments.

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3 thoughts on “BREAKING: Anakeesta announces $34 million expansion, the largest yet”

  1. It would be great if Anakeesta would provide a trolly ride up the mountain for folks afraid of heights and can’t ride the skylift.

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