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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
The winner: SkyLift Park
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.
The winner: Anakeesta wins this round!
Are Anakeesta and SkyLift Park wheelchair accessible?
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.
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!