BREAKING: Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies set to open Friday, May 22

Ripleys Aquarium
Photo by Alaina O'Neal/

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In an announcement on its website, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies has released its reopening date: Friday, May 22. 

Other Ripley’s Gatlinburg attractions, such as Ripley’s Believe It or Not, also plan on reopening Friday. However, Ripley’s Haunted Adventure and Guinness World Records Adventure will remain closed at this time.

“Our team is taking many strides to keep you safe, from strict sanitization routines to reduced contact,” Ripley’s says on in a statement on the website.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies has been closed since March 18 due to coronavirus concerns.

For the reopening, they are asking guests to do their part by adhering to the following guidelines: 

  • Wash hands frequently 
  • Follow social distancing guidelines
  • Do not backtrack and keep moving forward
  • Postpone your visit if anyone in your party is feeling unwell
  • Wear a mask or facial covering if you are safely able to do so  
  • Wear gloves, which will be required, at Ripley’s Mirror Mazes and Moving Theaters
  • Postpone your visit, or keep a distance from others, if you are 65 years and older, live in a nursing home, or have underlying medical conditions 

If a guest feels ill at any point during the visit, they are asked to go to First-Aid or let an employee know.

Ripley’s notes that each attraction is unique, but will maintain the same basic guidelines of crowd control, limited contact, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for employees, team member temperature checks and thorough sanitization.

Read more: Ripley’s in the Smokies – A breakdown of each attraction (with coupons!) 

Some attractions may be operating at a reduced capacity. Some masks or face coverings may not be permitted at the aquarium at certain attractions if they cannot be properly secured, based on the dynamics of the attraction.

Ripley’s is also helping guests visualize six feet of social distance, which equates to approximately the length of a sea lion, the width of moose antlers, or the height of a llama. 

About Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

The aquarium is nestled in the heart of Gatlinburg along the main strip and is conveniently located close to other popular attractions. Parking is available right beside the aquarium, and for $8 (which is the maximum daily fee), you can park all day and walk or ride the trolley.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies was voted Best Aquarium in North America by Readers’ Choice 2019 in USA Today and has many touch areas for kids (and big kids) to feel moon jellies, sting rays and horseshoe crabs.

The aquarium also has tunnels and “pop in” areas, including some inside the Penguin Playhouse, so guests can see some of the aquatic wildlife up close.

Upcoming Events at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

There are many educational opportunities at the aquarium as well, and with its reopening, Ripley’s will also be ramping up some of its events again soon.

Events at Ripley’s include campout activities, where guests and their families can spend the night inside the aquarium and have more time to learn about the creatures inside. These events include PJ Party with the Penguins, Sleep with the Sharks and Curious Campout. Curious Campout caters to younger children. The events range from $60-75 per person.

Sleepover events often include activities such as diving shows, scavenger hunts and other late night activities. Some family events require a minimum of 10 participants in order to be held.

For more information about upcoming events at the aquarium and other educational opportunities, visit the events page at

Learn more

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is open daily from 9 am to 9 pm and offers AAA, AARP and military discounts. 

Tickets purchased online are valid for one year from the date of purchase. To learn more about the safety measures at Ripley’s, visit their website at

Visit the CDC website and the Tennessee Department of Health website for the latest information about the coronavirus.

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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.


  1. My son bought season passes to all the Ripley attractions and has noe been able to go at all because of the closures is there going to be any compensation for this thank you

  2. Hi Debbie – for example if they were closed for 2 months, you would have a 2-month extension on your pass. If you have further questions, you may want to contact Ripley’s Guest Services but I hope you found this helpful! 🙂

  3. Yay, Gatlinburg is back baby back! Can’t wait for Dollywood to reopen…

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