Anakeesta Offers Sneak Peek on $34 Million Expansion [2023]

bird house as part of new anakeesta expansion

The new BirdVenture play area at Anakeesta will open this summer (photo by Bill Burris/

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

The latest expansion plan 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.

And 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.

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What is part of the new expansion?

The expansions will happen in phases through 2024. The first part of the expansion has already made its debut.

Here are some of the big items you can look forward to as part of Anakeetsa’s record-breaking expansion:

Read Also: 17 New Attractions in Pigeon Forge, Surrounding Areas [2023]

building under construction that will be new retail store
Above, the construction on the park’s largest retail store is underway (photo by Bill Burris/

4. A new European-themed village area

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

One of the new eateries in the village will be Mimi’s Bakery. The new French-inspired bakery will serve sweet and savory treats.

The plans also include 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 of the area highlights the beauty of the surrounding natural environment for an authentic Smoky Mountain experience.

hellbender mountain coaster cart
The new Hellbender mountain coaster is expected to open this fall (photo by Bill Burris/

3. Hellbender mountain coaster

This thrilling new mountain coaster boasts experiential tunnels with twists and turns through the forest in an exciting downhill adventure.

This new thrill of a ride is a double-railed coaster that will take guests to new heights, for the young or young-at-heart. It is themed to the native Smoky Mountain salamander species, giving it the perfect name of Hellbender.

With this new installation, Anakeesta will soon have a single-rail and double-rail mountain coaster for the whole family. The new ride is expected to open this fall.

large birdhouses part of the birdventure play area at anakeesta
The new BirdVenture-themed play area is expected to open this summer (photo by Bill Burris/

2. BirdVenture

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 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 new play area is expected to open this summer.

blue lights on astra lumina night walk
The Astra Lumina Night Walk sensory experience is now open as the first phase of the expansion (photo by Daniel Munson/

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 can take a nighttime journey through a Smoky Mountain Forest.

It offers unparalleled moments of magic for guests of all ages and “illuminating encounters” that feature lighting, projection and sound to connect with the mystery of the stars.

Anakeetsa’s Astra Lumina Enchanted Night Walk is the Moment Factory’s 15th Lumina Night Walk experience and the 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.”

bird houses part of the new birdventure play area
Above, construction progress on BirdVenture as of April 2023 (photo by Bill Burris/

When will the new expansions at Anakeeseta be open?

The Astra Lumina Enchanted Night Walk is already open. The rest of the massive expansion will continue in phases throughout 2024.

The BirdVenture play area is expected to open this summer and the new mountain coaster Hellbender will open in the fall.

Additional elements include a heavily themed restaurant and brewery, an event center and an entertainment stage with indoor and outdoor seating.

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. 

“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.

Read Also: What Can You Do at Anakeesta in Gatlinburg TN? A Complete Guide

astra lumina event venue
Anakeesta will also be offering a venue area for events and weddings as part of the expansion project (photo by Bill Burris/

How much does it cost to visit Anakeesta?

General admission for adults is $34.99, or $22.99 for children and $27.99 for seniors.

For general admission to Anakeesta, you can book in advance with Tripster for regular admission tickets. Note: This does not include the night walk experience.

General admission includes access to fan favorites for the entire family, including the Treetop Skywalk, AnaVista Tower – the highest point in Gatlinburg – and the BearVenture Challenge Course and the TreeVenture Challenge Course.

Adventure offerings such as the Rail Runner Mountain Coaster, gem mining or ziplining are add-on experiences.

Currently, an admission ticket with the night walk experience costs $34.99-37.99 for an adult. Child admission is $22.99-25.99 and senior pricing is $27.99-30.99.

Of course, prices are subject to change.

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


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Alaina O'Neal

Alaina is the owner and founder of Alaina Media LLC, a freelance graphic design agency, the owner and founder of, and the co-founder of LLC – a media company that specializes in regional travel sites.

3 thoughts on “Anakeesta Offers Sneak Peek on $34 Million Expansion [2023]”

  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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