Anakeesta vs. SkyLift Park: Which attraction is better?

Anakeesta or SkyLift Park

Anakeesta and SkyLift Park are both located in Gatlinburg, Tenn., and both offer incredible views of the Smokies (photos by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

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Anakeesta vs. SkyLift Park: Which is better? While both attractions offer fun ways to soak in gorgeous views of the Great Smoky Mountains, it can be hard to choose just one.

So let’s compare some of the differences between Anakeesta and SkyLift Park to help you plan your next Gatlinburg vacation:

Anakeesta vs. SkyLift: The similarities

Why are these two attractions often compared to one another? They have a lot in common: They are both located in downtown Gatlinburg and offer breathtaking views of the mountains.

Both have a chairlift. Both offer food, snacks and drinks for guests to enjoy while soaking in mountain views. And let’s be honest, both could offer a solid challenge for a person with a fear of heights.

So how are they different?

Anakeesta Ridge Rambler
The Anakeesta Ridge Rambler boards at the base of the mountain near the parking lot and offers guests an alternative way to get up the mountain (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Anakeesta vs. SkyLift: The heights

Anakeesta may be a less scary option for those with a fear of heights for two main reasons:

a. Getting up the mountain

Let’s start with getting up the mountain. While you can ride a chairlift to get to either attraction, Anakeesta also offers a Ridge Rambler, which is basically a big truck you can ride in lieu of the chair lift.

SkyLift Park offers no such option, and the only way to get up to the park is to take the SkyLift.

b. The SkyBridge 

The Gatlinburg SkyBridge at SkyLift Park is famous, claiming the title for the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in all of North America.

The SkyBridge spans 680 feet with glass floor panels at the center. The midpoint is 140 feet high.

It’s both gorgeous and nerve-wracking, even for those who aren’t entirely fearful of heights.

Read Also: Opinion: Cracking the Gatlinburg SkyBridge glass floor isn’t the fastest way to win friends

Gatlinburg SkyBridge
The Gatlinburg SkyBridge spans 680 feet (Gatlinburg SkyLift Park media photo)

By contrast, Anakeesta offers what they call the longest “tree-based” skywalk in North America. But it’s not to be confused with the SkyBridge behemoth.

I consider the Anakeesta skywalk like a baby version of the SkyBridge. Anakeesta’s skywalk spans in total about 880 feet, but it’s only suspended 50-60 feet in the air.

The winner: It depends. If you want a thrill, you’ll enjoy the SkyBridge at SkyLift Park. If you want to ease into the heights, you may want to start with Anakeesta.

The Treetop Skywalk at Anakeesta in Gatlinburg, Tenn is the longest tree-based Skywalk in North America (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)
The Treetop Skywalk at Anakeesta in Gatlinburg, Tenn is the longest tree-based Skywalk in North America (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

Anakeesta vs. SkyLift: Which one is cheaper?

At the time of this writing, general admission tickets for Anakeesta are $28.99 for adults, $21.99 for seniors and $19.99 for kids (ages 4-11). But, discounts are available. For instance, you can usually save a couple of bucks when you book on Tripster.

General admission for the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park is $28.95 per adult, $18.95 per child (4-11) and $23.95 per senior.

Children under 3 are free at both locations. Both offer group discounts for groups of 20 or more.

SkyLift Park offers $2 military discounts for both military members and immediate family (with military ID). Local residents also receive a $4 discount with proof of residency.

Anakeesta also offers a military discount (10% off), and local discounts for Sevier County residences (20% off). But again, it’s normally cheaper just to book through Tripster. Plus, you’ll save yourself from a long queue at the ticket counter.

Prices may vary by season and are subject to change.

The winner: Anakeesta. We love a good discount.

TreeVenture
The new TreeVenture was part of Anakeesta’s recent multi-million dollar expansion (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

Anakeesta vs. SkyLift: Which has more things to do?

Anakeesta offers plenty of things to do for kids, including the Treehouse Village Adventure, BearVenture, the TreeVenture Challenge Course and even a splash pad for warmer months, all of which are included with the price of admission.

The adults will enjoy the many shopping areas, restaurants, Treetop Skywalk, Memorial Forest Walk, Vista Gardens, and the all-new AnaVista observation tower.

Additionally, Anakeesta also offers a mountain coaster (the Rail Runner) and a dueling zipline for an extra fee. Anakeesta has so much to offer, and they continue to expand and add to the Anakeesta experience.

Read Also: Anakeesta debuts 7 new attractions at the Black Bear Village grand opening

By contrast, SkyLift Park is home of the SkyLift, SkyBridge, SkyDeck, SkyCenter and SkyTrail (coming fall 2021).

The most famous and most thrilling thing to experience at SkyLift is the SkyBridge. Once the guests have conquered that, they usually relax a bit at the SkyCenter and SkyDeck.

The SkyCenter building has a gift shop and snack bar that offers pizza, salads, ice cream and more, with a seating area that overlooks Gatlinburg.

The winner: It’s hard to compete with zip lines, mountain coasters and multiple shops and restaurants. Anakeesta wins in this category.

This brave pup belongs to SkyLift Park's Marketing Director Marcus Watson (photo courtesy of Gatlinburg's SkyLift Park)
This brave pup belongs to SkyLift Park’s Marketing Director Marcus Watson (photo courtesy of Gatlinburg’s SkyLift Park)

Are dogs allowed at Anakeesta or SkyLift Park?

Pets are not allowed at Anakeesta (with the exception of ADA service dogs), but dogs are allowed at SkyLift Park.

If you wish to bring your dog to SkyLift Park, dog owners must adhere to the dog policy, which includes guidelines such as:

  • Dogs must be leashed at all times
  • Dog owners must securely hold their dog on the SkyLift
  • Owners must always accompany the dog and are responsible for the dog’s behavior

Read Also: Top 11 dog-friendly destinations around Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge 

The winner: SkyLift Park

The new Cliff Top restaurant in Black Bear Village serves up elevated American Classics such as gourmet hamburgers (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)
The new Cliff Top restaurant in Black Bear Village serves up elevated American Classics such as gourmet hamburgers (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

Anakeesta vs. SkyLift: Which has better restaurants?

While you can get snacks and pizza at the Gatlinburg SkyCenter at SkyLift Park, Anakeesta has some restaurants that are simply hard to beat.

At Anakeesta, you have many choices, including:

  • Cliff Top (offers modern American cuisine)
  • Smokehouse (offers smoked meats)
  • Kephart Cafe (offers fast meals)
  • Tap House (offers craft beers)
  • Pearl’s Pie in the Sky (offers desserts)
  • Snack Shack (offers sweet treats)

Here’s the caveat: Reservations are usually not accepted, so be sure to plan ahead. Wait times can be long on top of the mountain.

Read Also: A look inside Anakeesta’s brand new restaurant: What’s on the menu?

The winner: Anakeesta wins this round!

Are Anakeesta and SkyLift Park wheelchair accessible?

Anakeesta offers wheelchair-accessible areas, which include the Firefly Village shops, dining pavilions and scenic viewing platforms. Visit their park policies page to learn more.

The Gatlinburg SkyLift Park staff also accommodates disabled individuals on the SkyLift, SkyDeck and lower levels of the SkyCenter. However, the SkyBridge is not wheelchair accessible. Visit their website for more information.

Read Also: Wheelchair accessible things to do in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge: Our top 7

Anakeesta vs SkyLift: Which is better?

In conclusion, if you want to eat your way through a relaxing vacation while gazing at incredible views, you could probably toggle between both attractions and be a very happy camper.

While it’s hard to compete with the variety of things to do at Anakeesta, the famous SkyBridge is just simply a one-of-a-kind experience.

If you have the opportunity to visit both, go for it! But if not, we hope this guide will help you choose between the two attractions.

What’s YOUR opinion on the differences between Anakeesta and SkyLift Park? Let us know in the comments!

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 info@thesmokies.com for questions or comments.

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