Your Questions on the SkyBridge in Gatlinburg, Answered [2023]

The competition for your tourism dollar in Gatlinburg is fierce. 

Afterall, there are only so many tourists with so many dollars. The pie is large, but the pie is not infinite. 

And so there’s a mental calculus for budgeting a trip. 

Is X worth Y percentage of our budget?

The answer of course is subjective. For some, no price would be too high to enjoy the Ripley’s Museum or a trip up the mountain to Anakeesta. Others feel ripped off unless they have some discount coupons to do anything. 

Add in the bevy of new and growing attractions, and every destination in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge remains in some varying state of evaluation.

This brings us to Gatlinburg’s SkyLift Park – home of the famous Gatlinburg SkyBridge.

Gatlinburg SkyLift Park was founded in the 1950s, the famous yellow chairs of the SkyLift have been ferrying folks up to the top of Crockett Mountain for nearly 70 years.

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What is there to do at SkyLift Park in Gatlinburg?

There are a variety of attractions at SkyLift Park in Gatlinburg including:

  • The SkyLift chair lift
  • The famous SkyBridge (a pedestrian bridge)
  • Tulip Tower (an observation tower)
  • The SkyTrail (a walking path)
  • The SkyCenter (a restaurant and gift shop)
  • The SkyDeck (an outdoor amphitheater)

The SkyDeck features a large viewing deck, outdoor seating, firepits and thankfully zero scary/exciting glass floor panels – more on this later. The SkyDeck is an excellent place to chill out and soak in the view. 

The SkyCenter offers a place to get out of the elements and nosh on a light menu of pizza, wraps, hot dogs and more. There’s also a selection of frozen beverages and draft beer.

The SkyTrail is an elevated boardwalk where visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll alongside the mountain while interacting with informative signage about the area.

Tulip Tower is a 70-ft. steel observation tower that’s accessible by rope bridge from the SkyTrail.

And of course, the highlight of SkyLift Park is the Gatlinburg SkyBridge, the longest pedestrian cable bridge in North America.

The bridge stretches 680 feet across a deep valley. It is comfortable for walking with room for a leisurely stroll and for those who move at a brisker pace.

At its highest point, the bridge is 150 feet off the ground. The bridge offers breathtaking views – especially from the glass floor panels in the middle of the bridge.

Park owners recently doubled the glass panels from 15 feet to 30 feet in length, giving visitors a more exciting experience than ever before.

First person perspective on the glass bridge
The SkyBridge midpoint features 30 feet of glass panels (photo by Morgan Overholt/

Did the Gatlinburg SkyBridge crack?

Look, you can’t really go to the SkyBridge without hearing the tale of the great SkyBridge crack of 2020.

So are the rumors true? Did the glass really crack?

Unfortunately, the rumors are true. And the glass really did crack.

However, the tale has become somewhat exaggerated over time. Today, the story is mostly used as a tool to taunt families visiting from out of town and scared of heights as slowly make their way across the bridge 150 feet up in the air.

Because ya know, they needed another reason to be scared. Isn’t family great?

Here’s the real story.

Guests were way up in the air, minding their own business, taking in views of downtown Gatlinburg when a man attempted what was described as a “baseball-style slide” across one of the glass panels.

Upon impact, it is believed that the keys from his pocket cracked the glass. And also, I imagine, freaked a whole bunch of people out.

But it should be noted that no one was ever in any danger.

There were multiple levels of redundancies that prevented something bad from happening.

He cracked the upper layer of one of the glass-floor panels on the pedestrian bridge. There were several other layers remaining, and the bridge has been long since repaired.

glass panels on the skybridge
The highest point of the SkyBridge is 150 feet off the ground and 1,800 feet above sea level (photo by Morgan Overholt/

Is SkyLift Park safe?

In short, yes, the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park is safe. But there may be restrictions for certain individuals.

For example, it’s recommended that infants ride the chair lift in a baby harness or wrap attached to the parent. 

Dogs are also allowed as long as they are leashed for the visit. Owners must also be able to securely hold their dog while riding the lift.

The chairs can fit up to three individuals, but guests are welcome to ride one or two per chair if preferred. Operators will make sure you get in the chair comfortably. 

skylift parks chair lift
A round-trip SkyLift chair lift lasts about 20 minutes, but we recommend breaking up the experience by taking a healthy break at the top to enjoy everything the park has to offer (photo by Morgan Overholt/

How long is the Gatlinburg SkyLift ride?

The round-trip ride lasts 20 minutes.

Most folks break up the experience by spending time at the top of the mountain and checking out everything the park has to offer.

Is the SkyLift and SkyBridge the same?

Not quite. Gatlinburg SkyLift Park is the name of the attraction which houses the SkyLift and SkyBridge. The SkyLift is the chair lift up to the top of the mountain. The SkyBridge is the famously long pedestrian walking bridge.

The SkyBridge is one of the most famous features of this attraction.

the skybridge at night
The main attraction at SkyLift Park is the famous SkyBridge, which lights up at night (photo by Morgan Overholt/

Do you have to take the SkyLift to get to the SkyBridge?

Yes. Guests at SkyLift Park need to take the chair lift to reach access to the attraction, including access to the famous SkyBridge.

Anakeesta, on the other hand, offers a truck to help guests get up to the attraction in addition to the chair lift. So, if you’re worried about the lift, this may play into your decision on which attraction is best for you.

Read Also: Anakeesta vs. SkyLift Park: Which Attraction Is Better?

How long does it take to walk across the SkyBridge in Gatlinburg?

Not very long, but of course, it depends on how much you stop and take photos along the way. On average, it takes about 3-5 minutes if you take a leisurely stroll across the bridge.

the skycenter
The Gatlinburg SkyCenter is a cool place to enjoy a snack or a beverage while enjoying the views from the top of the iconic SkyLift (photo by Morgan Overholt/

Is there a restaurant at SkyLift Park?

Yes, you can grab a bite to eat on the second floor of the SkyCenter at SkyLift Park.

Although, it’s less of a restaurant and more of a snack bar with incredible views and a spacious seating area.

The menu features basic staples like hot dogs, ice cream and beer. Hey, we all have our own definition of staples, no judging.

The SkyTrail
The Gatlinburg SkyTrail at SkyLift Park is one of the newer features, opening to the public in 2021 (photo by Alaina O’Neal/

Do you have to pay to walk the SkyBridge in Gatlinburg?

Yes. The SkyBridge is a part of the attraction, so you will need a ticket to walk across the iconic bridge.

How much does it cost to go on the SkyBridge in Gatlinburg?

Ok. So how much for an admission ticket? Honestly, it’s not bad.

Ticket pricing, at the time of this writing, is as follows:

AdultSeniors (65+)Juniors (4-11)Kids Under 3
SkyPass Same Day$36.95$29.95$22.95Free
Single Visit Ticket$32.95$25.95$18.95Free
Unlimited Visits Ticket$34.95$27.95$20.95Free

A SkyPass gets you unlimited visits for the day and allows you to skip the line. SkyPasses are cheaper if purchased at least one day in advance and are only available for purchase online.

SkyPasses are really the best way to go because they allow you to save a bit of money and skip the wait. They also give you the opportunity to visit the park in the morning, hit downtown Gatlinburg for lunch, and then head back up to the park to see the lights at dusk.

A Single Visit Ticket is valid for a single visit to the park.

The Unlimited Visits Ticket, like the SkyPass, also gets you unlimited park visits for the day but doesn’t allow you to skip the line. These tickets are only available for purchase at the SkyLift Park ticket window.

Remember, prices are subject to change and may vary by season.

photos at the skycenter tell the tale of the gatlinburg fires of 2015
Photos located inside the SkyCenter tell the tale of the Gatlinburg fires of 2016 and their major impact on SkyLift Park (photo by Morgan Overholt/

Did the SkyLift burn in Gatlinburg?

Yes, the Gatlinburg fire in 2016 temporarily destroyed SkyLift Park.

To make matters worse, just as the SkyLift Park was rising from the ashes, Anakeesta opened, offering a similar, and rather competitive, experience in an arguably more scenic and upscale location.

However, the folks at SkyLift answered both challenges admirably.

The SkyLift reopened in 2017 looking more beautiful than ever before with plans for expansion.

Today, the SkyLift is a lot more than just a ride to the top of Crockett Mountain and back down.

It offers panoramic views of the vistas of Gatlinburg and the mountains of the Smokies beyond. 

Read Also: Is Anakeesta Worth It? A Personal Review (With Discount) [2023]

tulip tower
The Tulip Tower observation tower also opened in 2021 (photo by Alaina O’Neal/

Is the Gatlinburg SkyLift worth it?

I think, unquestionably, SkyLift Park is worth it.

Anytime you can enjoy a Gatlinburg landmark, I think it’s worth it.

Plus, they’ve added a lot of value to the price of your admission. I suppose the question is whether you choose SkyLift or Anakeesta.

Personally, I prefer Anakeesta’s views of the Smokies. I like to be able to look out over the mountains without seeing the town.

However, I will say that your ticket up the mountain at Anakeesta is really just a starting point. I feel like you’re ultimately likely to spend a lot more money on a trip to Anakeesta than the SkyLift. 

The SkyLift does have the glass-bottomed bridge – a major selling point that Anakeesta can’t match. 

Honestly, I think you can’t go wrong with either one. You’re going to get amazing views and enjoy more of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park area.

The Gatlinburg SkyLift Park is located at 765 Parkway in downtown Gatlinburg. For tickets or more information about SkyLift, visit their website.

Have you visited the Gatlinburg SkyLift? Tell us what you think in the comments.

Earthquake the Ride in Gatlinburg Is Just As Bad as You Think It Is

I’ve lived in East Tennessee for most of my life.

I have fond memories of spending my weekends and summers roaming around Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, soaking in all the fun things these Smoky Mountain towns offer.

I’ve eaten at almost every restaurant and tried almost every attraction at least once.

Except that is, Earthquake the Ride.

But a couple of weeks ago, on a whim, I decided to finally check that box.

After all, I thought, how bad could it be?

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What is Earthquake the Ride in Gatlinburg, TN?

Earthquake the Ride is a tourist trap theme park style thrill ride located in downtown Gatlinburg, TN.

The attraction promises to offer a “sensory overload” of “gut-wrenching high-tech special effects” and simulate the feel of a real earthquake.

Why does every cheesy attraction in the Smokies feature nightmare-inducing creepy mannequins? (photo by Morgan Overholt/

What is it like to ride Earthquake the Ride?

Excited to try this Gatlinburg-strip staple for the first time, we purchased our tickets and got in line behind some creepy mismatched mannequins with missing appendages.

When it was our turn, a ride attendant motioned us onto a prop subway train. And we were greeted by a few rows of movie-theater-like chairs with seat belts.

We, alongside the other guests, took our seats, buckled in, and secured our belongings.

Bags are permitted on the ride, however, you have to hold them in your lap.

The ride began with an “oncoming train” on the tracks – represented by a bright light al la Dollywood’s Blazing Fury.

“Station control – we have a train on our track and it’s coming at us” you hear the pre-recorded conductor yell over the intercom.

That’s when the floor beneath our feet began to move back and forth along the track on a tilt as we, for some reason, lurched closer to the oncoming train.

Then, the strobe lights kick in and the ceiling “collapses”.

After that, I’m not entirely sure what happened to the train because the next thing I knew I was surrounded by a mind-bending random assortment of props including but not limited to, a flood of water, a giant animatronic gorilla, a gaggle of alligators and a handful of rats.

There were also some sirens involved at some point.

As far as the earthquake simulation is concerned, I must admit I’ve never personally experienced a quake in real life. But for obvious reasons, I’m fairly certain Earthquake the Ride’s simulation lacks authenticity.

Editor’s Note: If you’ve been involved in an Earthquake where a gorilla and a runaway train were involved, feel free to comment below.

The entire ride lasts roughly four minutes.

An angry gorilla – because there’s one in every earthquake? (photo by Morgan Overholt/

Is it really that bad?

Yes, it really is that bad.

Some might even call it a big waste of money.

But it’s the kind of bad that almost makes it good.

Like the kind of bad that maybe, if you pre-gamed at Ole Smoky or Tennessee Hemp Care beforehand you’d find the whole thing hilarious.

Honestly, I was stone-cold sober and I kind of found it to be hilarious. But not so hilarious that I was willing to forgive the $14.99 price of admission.

I mean, if I wanted something to laugh at, Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride is just a few miles away for a similar price tag. And it at least offers a full 4-minutes of dilapidated disappointment with dinosaurs.

Read Also: Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride Pigeon Forge: Tourist trap or beloved icon?

If you feel like throwing your money away, you can find Earthquake the Ride on the main strip in downtown Gatlinburg (photo by Morgan Overholt/

How much is Earthquake The Ride?

At the time of this writing, an admission ticket for Earthquake The Ride is $14.99 for adults and $10.99 for children.

For comparison, you could spend an entire day at Anakeesta for $22.99-$34.99 per person … just sayin’.

Read Also: Is Anakeesta worth it? An honest review

Where is Earthquake the Ride?

Earthquake the Ride currently takes up precious real estate along the Gatlinburg strip and is located at 653 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738 across from Fannie Farkles and Ole Smoky Moonshine.

Have you ridden Earthquake the Ride? Do you agree with our review? Let us know in the comments below.

A Walk Between Trees in Tennessee at Anakeesta, What You Should Know

Anakeesta’s world-renowned Treetop SkyWalk in Tennessee reminds me of one of my favorite moments in literature.

In J.R.R Tolkein’s “The Hobbit”, trudging under the dark canopy of a mighty forest, the Hobbit Bilbo and his Dwarven companions are sullen and angry and nearing despair.

Seemingly abandoned by the wizard who’d promised to lead them, they are trapped in a dark, seemingly endless forest that does not allow light to enter or air to move.

Finally, they send Bilbo, the lightest and most nimble of the traveling party, to climb through the canopy and see if he can get a bearing.

Bilbo pokes through and for a few moments is allowed to soak in the sun and enjoy the breeze. Butterflies flit around the treetops and all of the weight he had felt moments before is lifted. 

It’s a lesson in the importance of perspective, one that is driven home throughout popular culture. Perspective can be everything. 

It’s the difference between walking through a forest and walking above it. That’s the experience offered by the Treetop Skywalk at Anakeesta

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Where is a walk between trees in Tennessee?

The Skywalk, which is known as a walk between the trees, is located at the Anakeesta attraction in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Anakeesta bills itself as a mountain-top theme park.

The park offers a variety of Smoky Mountain-themed activities, but it’s the Treetop Skywalk that tends to be the real show-stopper.

Anakeesta’s Treetop Skywalk is the longest tree-based skywalk in North America.

treetop skywalk from a distance at night
The Skywalk is an 880-ft walkway (photo by Bill Burris/

How long is the Anakeesta tree canopy walk?

Being romantically predisposed to enjoying a Treetop Skywalk, I especially looked forward to experiencing the Skywalk despite my fear of heights. The 880-foot walkway is suspended 50 to 60 feet in the air.

I liked it immensely. It’s romantic in the idealistic sense of the word. 

But the truth is I think I would have preferred to have it to myself. 

Walking along the swinging ropes over the bright green canopy, my mind wanted to wander. Also, I wanted to find a spot along the course somewhere alone, where I could pull out a chair, sit and think. 

It would be a great place to ruminate, to loosen a few mental shackles and exercise the mind. But, that’s hard to do in the middle of Gatlinburg’s theme park. 

There are couples taking the walk hand-in-hand, families and kids running ahead of their father briefly heeding admonishments to wait and slow down.

It was a place I really wanted to be alone, but that would be a poor business model. 

Not that I begrudged the others the experience. They paid for their ticket as well, after all. 

But there were places built to exercise the mind, and I felt like the Skywalk really could be one. 

Still, as walks through – or above – nature go, the Skywalk is a notch above. 

There is a sense of joy, of wonder, in the changed perspective. It’s a sense of adventure walking from treetop to treetop on rope bridges and wooden planks. And a sense of possibility.

And there are dozens of opportunities to take great pics for the ‘gram. 

anakeesta's bridge vs skylift park's bridge
A side-by-side comparison of Anakeesta’s Treetop Skywalk (left) and SkyLift Park’s SkyBridge (right) (left photo by Marie Graichen; right photo by Morgan Overholt/

Does Anakeesta have a SkyBridge?

Anakeesta’s Skywalk is sometimes confused with the SkyBridge at Gatlinburg SkyLift Park. A comparison is pictured above.

Anakeesta has the longest tree-based skywalk in North America. It’s a series of bridges where guests immerse themselves in the beauty of nature.

Located nearby, the SkyBridge is the longest pedestrian cable bridge in North America. It’s a singular long bridge that towers with a height of 500 feet above Gatlinburg.

Read Also: Is Anakeesta worth it? An honest review [2023]

a walk between trees in Tennessee during the day
We recommend guests take a walk on the Skywalk during the day and at night (photo by Morgan Overholt/

Is the Treetop Skywalk at Anakeesta wheelchair accessible?

Unfortunately, accessibility is an issue.

There are stairs down to the Skywalk and then a couple of flights back up and out. It isn’t arduous but if stairs present an issue for you, they are worse upon exit – which is nearer the Anakeesta Chondola – than they are upon entry near the rear of the park. 

At the time of this writing, while many parts of Anakeesta are wheelchair accessible, the Treetop Skywalk is not.

What if you’re scared of heights?

Of course, the Skywalk is plenty sturdy. I never felt remotely unsafe.

But it is a series of rope and netted bridges, it’s gonna jostle and sway. If you get a rowdy batch of teens, you might feel like Indiana Jones in the “Temple of Doom”.

But as long as no one is holding a giant scimitar and promising to help you meet an ancient god, you should be fine. On that note, jumping and running are not permitted.

With that said, guests who are very afraid of heights might want to skip attraction. 

chondola at anakeesta
Anakeesta is located on a mountain in Tennessee (photo by Morgan Overholt/

What is included at Anakeesta?

The famous Treetop Skywalk is included in the price of admission at Anakeesta.

Your visit to Anakeesta begins with a scenic ride on the Chondola, which is what Anakeesta calls its chair lift. Most guests ride in the 4-person chair, but there is an enclosed gondola cabin as well.

At the top, there are several fun things to do for guests.

The majority of which has to do with Anakeeesta’s majestic views of the Smokies. The included activities are the Chondola ride, the AnaVista observation tower, the Treeventure and Bear Venture challenge courses and the Vista Gardens.

The AnaVista tower now is the tallest point in downtown Gatlinburg.

Guests can also gain access to shopping and dining options. For example, one of the best places to grab a bite to eat is the Cliff Top Restaurant, which offers stunning views of the city.

blue lights on astra lumina night walk
The Astra Lumina experience is an immersive night walk that features lights and sound (photo by Daniel Munson/

What is not included at Anakeesta?

The park has a few add-on options as well for guests looking for some more outdoor adventures.

For example, the Rail Runner mountain coaster is an extra cost, as well as the Dueling Zipline.

The park also offers gem mining. Most recently, guests can purchase the Astra Lumina night walk experience, which is the first of its kind in the United States.

Read Also: Astra Lumina at Anakeesta is now open, what you need to know

ridge rambler truck at anakeesta
Guests can go up and down the mountain in a truck if they prefer (photo by Morgan Overholt/

Can you walk down Anakeesta?

No. Once you are on the mountain, you have to take the Chondola to get to the top of Anakeesta as well as back down.

Alternatively, you can also ride the Ridge Rambler adventure vehicle, which is essentially a big truck.

How much does it cost to go to Anakeesta?

At the time of this writing, general admission tickets are $34.99 for adults, $27.99 for seniors and $22.99 for kids (ages 4-11).

Children 3 and under are free. However, you can usually find a better deal and save a couple of bucks per ticket when you book through Tripster.

Anakeesta is located in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg at 576 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN.

Have you taken a walk between the trees at Anakeesta’s Treetop Skywalk attraction on a Gatlinburg vacation? Let us know in the comments!

View the web story version of this article here.

Is Anakeesta worth It? A personal review (with discount) [2023]

Anakeesta is one of the newer jewels in downtown Gatlinburg, across from Ripley’s Aquarium.

It sits atop a mountain offering spectacular views of the village and the mountains, reportedly as far away as Kentucky.

Sunsets can be breathtaking and the scenic ride down the enclosed chondola cabin at night is especially cool.

But, the more I talk to people about the Anakeesta attraction, the same question arises: Is Anakeesta worth it?

The answer is both simple and complicated.

Yes, it’s worth it. But also, it might not be for everyone. It all depends on your point of view.

Anakeesta, which bills itself as an award-winning theme park, is still a work in progress.

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How long do you spend at Anakeesta?

How long people spend at Anakeesta will depend on whether or not they partake in extra activities. If you don’t partake in any extra activities, plan for about 2-4 hours.

You could spend the better part of the day there if you purchase a lot of the extra add-ons.

Is there a lot of walking at Anakeesta?

Sure. There’s walking involved, but it’s not necessarily the same amount of walking you would do at a theme park like Dollywood.

Anakeesta is built for relaxing. And there will be some walking in between.

chondola at anakeesta
Guests can ride the chair lift or the Ridge Rambler truck to gain access to Anakeesta (photo by Morgan Overholt/

Are Anakeesta tickets good all day?

Yes. The good news is, once you purchase a ticket, the ticket is good for the day. You can go up and down the mountain as much as your heart desires.

Tickets that are purchased at the ticket booth one hour before close grant you access to the following day for free.

How many feet up is Anakeesta?

Anakeesta is 600 feet above the city of Gatlinburg. Its AnaVista Tower offers the tallest point in the city. Anakeesta means “the place of the high ground” in the Cherokee language.

Guests who are not a fan of heights can ride the Ridge Rambler truck to get to the attraction instead of the chair lift.

anavista tower and watering can at anakeesta
The AnaVista Tower is the tallest point in Gatlinburg (photo by Morgan Overholt/

What is the best time to visit Anakeesta?

Winter is an exciting time to visit the park because it is illuminated with beautiful lights and decorations.

But remember, if you’re visiting in January or February, Anakeesta runs on a limited seasonal schedule. Check the operating calendar before planning your visit.

In general, the park says that the hours between noon-3 pm tend to have longer wait times.

And no matter when you’re visiting, if you’re visiting during the day, I think it’s worth it to come back at night and enjoy the views as they are illuminated after dark.

ziplines at anakeesta
Ziplining is an additional cost at Anakeesta (photo by Morgan Overholt/

How much does Anakeesta cost? Is there a discount?

Your adult general admission tickets are $34.99. The ticket to ride to the summit of Anakeesta buys you access to spectacular views and access to their included activities.

Remember, sometimes you can save a couple of dollars by booking with Tripster. Pricing for children and seniors is also available at a discounted rate.

The AnaVista Tower and the truly cool Treetop Skywalk, the longest tree-based skywalk bridge in North America, are included in your admission price. In addition, guests can experience the Vista Gardens retreat.

For the kids, a ticket includes access to the Treehouse Village playground, the TreeVenture Challenge Course, an interactive treehouse designed to entertain children of all ages and the BearVenture Challenge Course, a black bear-themed challenge course designed with young children in mind.

Seasonal experiences can add value as well.

For Halloween, Anakeesta features a spectacular haunted walk around the park.

At Christmas, they decorate the place with lights that really add a little something to the value of your admission.

But after that? You’ll need to break out the wallet. Nearly everything else costs extra.

Read Also: A walk between the trees in Tennessee at Anakeesta

pink orbs light up night sky
The Astra Lumina night walk is an add-on experience at Anakeesta (photo by Daniel Munson/

Which features cost extra at Anakeesta?

At the time of this writing, the Dueling Zipline adventure is $49.99 (in addition to general admission) and the Rail Runner mountain coaster is around $12.99, or $14.99 for tandem rides.

You can buy a zipline and general admission combo online for $84.98 at the time of this writing.

But the tickets for the 25 mph Rail Runner coaster are only available for purchase at the park.

The prices can start to add up since most kids do not expect to only ride a single ride and call it a day. However, you can always ride again for half off. Mining for gems is also an add-on.

Anakeesta also offers a unique experience with the Astra Lumina night walk, which is the first of its kind in the entire United States. That feature alone makes the trip more worth it, even though it is also an add-on to your base price of admission.

Read Also: Astra Lumina at Anakeesta is now open, what you need to know

Additionally, Anakeesta offers great dining options from the sit-down options at Cliff Top Grill, Smokehouse, Tap House or the Bar at the Top of the World, to quicker options at the Kephart Café, Pearl’s Pie in the Sky or the Snack Shack. They offer items like salads, chicken, pizza and a wide selection of beverages.

You can also relax by the firepit at Firefly Village.

The food itself, of course, adds an additional cost to your trip. However, no theme park in the world offers dining options for free, so it seems ill-conceived to blame Anakeesta for that.

Same with Anakeesta’s quaint shopping, which is fine, but I can’t imagine anyone paying an entrance fee just to shop at Black Bear Village.

And there lies the rub. Anakeesta, in my opinion, is pretty great. But it suffers from a split personality complex.

the treetop skywalk at night at anakeesta
The Treetop Skywalk at Anakeesta is illuminated at night (photo by Marie Graichen/

Is Anakeesta worth it?

If you’re asking me is Anakeesta worth it? It depends on your point of view.

Anakeesta is a theme park that charges extra for the rides because many of its visitors aren’t coming for thrills. It’s also a dining and shopping destination that charges an admission fee because many of its visitors don’t come to dine or shop.

It is an enigma, wrapped in a riddle and placed inside a conundrum but with spectacular views of mountain peaks and beautiful scenery.

I think it suffers a self-inflicted wound by billing itself as a theme park – just a few miles from one of the world’s truly great theme parks.

It’s an unfair comparison, but an inevitable one when you call yourself a theme park.

To my mind, Anakeesta is a unique destination but it’s not a theme park. It’s all theme and very little park.

Now, in fairness to Anakeesta, they seem to be doing very well without my input. Most nights I’ve been by, especially when the weather is pleasant, they’ve done very good business.

For my wife and I, we’d pay admission to ride the chondola, soak up the mountain views, do a little shopping and grab some dinner and some drinks. Yeah. Sure. Totally worth it.

The extra charge off the top hurts, but I figure those views and the atmosphere are worth it.

For my family, with three kids who will be bored of the views in 30 minutes? Who had their fill of the tree walk and the playgrounds in another hour?

Nah. With kids, once you pay for admission, a zipline each and a couple of rides on the coaster, we could have gotten into Dollywood and had access to unlimited age-appropriate rides.

To be clear, I like Anakeesta. I think it’s genuinely really cool. But if I want a $100 theme park experience around the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, I might consider somewhere else.

For more information on Anakeesta in East Tennessee, visit Check for discounts on your regular admission ticket on Tripster and skip the ticket booth upon arrival.

Do you agree with our review? Let us know in the comments! View the web story version of this article here.