Right before Anakeesta temporarily closed in March, the park was in the midst of planning for its largest-ever $6.5 million expansion.
Despite the setback, Anakeesta has officially opened the first phase of this expansion.
TreeVenture, a treehouse adventure course, is now open to the public. TreeVenture is for guests of all ages.
“Treehouses capture everyone’s imagination, and nestled in the trees at the top of a mountain, TreeVenture encompasses the whimsical feel you find throughout Anakeesta,” says Anakeesta partner and ClimbWorks owner Nick Thompson. “TreeVenture offers a family-friendly adventure for all ages. Each treehouse entrance features a different level of difficulty, so you pick your path and create your own adventure.”
TreeVenture is included in Anakeesta’s regular general admission price and is made up of three multi-level treehouses connected by nets, ropes, hanging logs and platforms. The course also has a winding slide, hanging stairs and a look-out platform that offers free-form play without a harness.
Visitors to Anakeesta may also notice that nearby, the AnaVista Tower is taking shape. This observation tower will soon be downtown Gatlinburg’s highest point and is on track to open next month.
“Everywhere at Anakeesta has fantastic views, but when you travel 600-plus feet up to the top of the mountain on our lift, and then go 60 feet higher in the air on the tower, you get a 360-degree view that’s indescribable,” says co-founder and Managing Partner Bob Bentz, who also designed the tower. “We went through a number of different design concepts, and decided upon the concept of it emulating a flower, a flower opening up to the sky.”
Anakeesta is also doubling its dining capacity with a new Smokehouse Barbeque and Brewery. It will be the only place to see the Great Smoky Mountains and Mt. LeConte while enjoying full-service dining in Gatlinburg.
“When you look out the windows of our Smokehouse Barbeque and Brewery, it really feels like you’re looking at a framed painting of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” says co-founder Karen Bentz. “There is no other place in Gatlinburg where you can sit, enjoy a glass of wine, a wonderful meal and be this close to the Smoky Mountains. It’s really going to add to the experience you have at Anakeesta.”
For the third phase of its expansion, Anakeesta is adding a new stage for live music, a mountaintop firepit with a walk-up bar for beer including local craft brews, walk-up windows for pizza and frozen yogurt and a water play area designed to resemble a Tennessee mountain creek.
“We want visitors to imagine being outside enjoying the national park. We designed an 8-foot cascading waterfall featuring a bear looking down from the top with a small stream flowing down,” says Development Manager Bryce Bentz. “If you want to cool off on a hot summer day, you can enjoy the cool river rocks, while whimsical animal sculptures and boulders that surround you shoot out streams of refreshing water.”
Anakeesta is located in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg at 576 Parkway in Gatlinburg at traffic light #5. Anakeesta has also implemented a new express pass online admission option. The express pass allows guests to choose the day and time that they would like to visit the park.
Visit www.anakeesta.com or call 865-325-2400 for tickets and more information.