Is Anakeesta Worth It? Local Gives Honest Review (2024)

clifftop with fountain at anakeesta

We get many questions about Anakeesta in Gatlinburg, but one of the most important questions is: Is it worth it? (photo by Morgan Overholt/

Pros and cons of visiting Anakeesta in Gatlinburg TN

As a local, do you know my favorite part of Anakeesta? It’s leaving. But I don’t mean it as a slight. Anakeesta features fun attractions, quality dining, stupendous views and some diverting shopping. But the best part is the Chondola ride down the mountain at night, bouncing your way silently toward the lights of Gatlinburg and soaking in the night mountain air. I think it may be the best ride in the Smokies.

Anakeesta is one of the classiest, nicest and most modern attractions in Gatlinburg. It offers great food and activities for the whole family. However, it can also be expensive for a larger family. While it’s probably worth visiting at least once, here are pros and cons of the attraction to help you decide.

skywalk at anakeesta at night
The Treetop Skywalk at Anakeesta is suspended 50 to 60 feet in the air. This experience is included in the price of admission (photo by Marie Graichen/

What can you do at Anakeesta?

Mostly, you eat, play, soak in gorgeous views and shop at Anakeesta. Anakeesta has multiple food, snack and drink options as well as multiple stores selling varied items that are popular amongst the tourists who visit the Smokies annually. For add-on experiences, they have two mountain coasters – The Hellbender and the Rail Runner – the Dueling Zipline, gem mining and the Astra Lumina, an enchanted nighttime walk that uses a digital light show to create a unique immersive experience.

The play areas, observation tower, Treetop Skywalk and gardens are included in the price of admission. Anakeesta has recently added the BirdVenture play area, an aviary-inspired area where kids can imagine themselves as a bird in the Smokies. It has dozens of interactive adventure zones, seven giant slides and unique slide paths.

The Mountain View While Dining at Anakeesta
The views at Anakeesta are fantastic (photo by James Overholt/

What are the “pros” to doing Anakeesta?

Anakeesta is probably the classiest – for lack of a better word – and most modern tourism destination in Gatlinburg. There’s none of the “cheese” that other attractions seem to feel the tourists demand. Like a village above the village, Anakeesta just has a great vibe and is one of my favorite experiences in the Smokies. The views are fantastic. The food and dining ranges from good to great. The mountain coasters and ziplining are top-notch. There’s a lot to like in this mountain adventure park. That nighttime ride on the chondola back down the mountain is truly spectacular. Plus, there’s almost always something new given the park’s aggressive expansion plan.

Anakeesta's Hellbender Ride Vehicle
Coaster rides and some other attractions at Anakeesta require tickets in addition to admission (photo by Bill Burris/

What are the “cons” to doing Anakeesta?

There’s only one, but it’s a big one: The price. It’s not outrageous, but it’s not cheap, especially when you consider most of the best attractions are NOT included in the price of admission. The zipline is an additional $60 and coaster passes – which provide a total of two coaster rides – are another $17. Admission to Astra Lumina is $16. The tree-top skywalk, BirdVenture and the tower ARE included in the price of admission. But for our family of five – if we want to visit the park and do a couple of adventures – a day at Anakeesta can get pretty expensive before you start paying for food and drink and shopping. Plus, I can think of one other con – Anakeesta is frequently super packed. It can be a bit of a wait just to get up the mountain and spend more money.

a sign tells guests to explore at their own pace
Many experiences have add-on costs, like Astra Lumina (photo by Daniel Munson/

Is Anakeesta worth it?

I like Anakeesta. I think it’s great. But when I go, I do it knowing that I’m overpaying a bit for the experience. It’s worth visiting at least once. But for me, it’s not always worth a re-visit for my family of five. I’ve heard people say, “Well, you must spend money when you get inside Dollywood, too.” Yes, but not on the rides or most of the shows. A day at Anakeesta can be just as expensive as a day at Dollywood but with less to do, in my opinion.

Anakeesta Chairlift and Chondola
Guests can ride the chairlift, chondola or the Ridge Rambler truck from the parking area (photo by James Overholt/

Parking, admission costs and more

Since it’s in Gatlinburg, you’ll also likely have to pay for parking. The Anakeesta parking lot fills up pretty quickly, but it’s not a far walk from the municipal parking garage located at the intersection of Highways 441 and 321. There’s some other parking nearby, including over behind Ripley’s Aquarium. But generally, if you can’t get in that municipal parking garage, it’s probably too busy of a day to try and get into Anakeesta. Guests can either take the lift or ride in a truck to reach the attraction after paying for admission.

Currently, admission costs $35 for adults 12 to 59, $23 for kids ages 4 to 11 and $28 for seniors. Prices mentioned are subject to change and may vary by season. Booking your ticket with Tripster can usually save you both money and time.

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26 thoughts on “Is Anakeesta Worth It? Local Gives Honest Review (2024)”

  1. Thank you so much for this information as I had been wondering whether it would be worth the money to go or not so now I’ll know how to plan for going.

  2. One thing to note is your ticket is good for the whole day, so leave being able to leave and come back later is really cool

  3. Overpriced ride up. then even more over priced for the food and drink. not impressed. hit the ride up to sky bridge and then eat at favorite place in G.B. you will thank me.

  4. Thanks for your perspective. We’re considering a trip to Gatlinburg this summer and I stumbled across Anakeesta. I thought it looked like a nice alternative to Dollywood for our family. Cheaper, more my kids speed, etc. My kids are 7, 5, 3, and 9mo. Obviously, the baby won’t be doing much, and I think the middle 2 could be satisfied with one trip down the coaster (is the tandem price for both riders or each?), but now you’ve got me rethinking. Maybe ponying up for DW would give us more bang for our buck, regardless of the eventual meltdown(s).

  5. The best way to get the most value is with an annual pass, for essentially the cost of two visits, you can visit anytime for 12 months and get a bit of a discount on some of the attractions at the top.

  6. A tip is that they offer the next day free if you go after 6 pm. It is something to see at night then you can go the next day all day on the one day admission. This makes it worth it.

  7. My husband & I are seasonal owners in TN & agree completely with this review. Anakeesta is nice, but I doubt we’ll go often. For the views, variety, and value, we prefer Obergatlinburg all the way.

  8. We were in Gatlinburg on October and knew nothing about it.. We went up on the ski lift never saw a thing about Ankeesta!

  9. I do agree with your review. It is a very expensive chondola ride. When adding fees for other activities & food I feel it is definitely over priced. My kids would not be entertained for long. Hiking a trail is a better option. Or the favorite Dollywood!

  10. I brought my family in December 2020. We thought it was worth the money compared to other things. It was beautifully decorated for Christmas, the view was incredible. The ride up was fun. We saw two bears while going up. We took alot of great pictures, we rode the Rollercoaster and we did all of the activities. We look forward to going for the holidays again next year!

  11. Worst meal I’ve ever eaten. Cliff Top restaurant was overpriced and the bison short ribs and roasted Brussels sprouts were terrible. Don’t waste your money here unless you just want the view

  12. We just got home yesterday and loved the spectacular views from the top. The gardens were very creatively presented and the swinging bridges were amazing. It was so nice to see this area well presented, we will be back and the senior price of 21.99 and purchasing online to use the express lane was awesome. Sorry it’s not worth it to you, we loved it for something new and fresh in Gatlinburg.

  13. Don’t waste your money. It is a place to spend more money when you get up the mountain. When you get off the chair lift, you can see from one end of the park to the other. We went in July 2020. It started raining, the chair lifts closed down. We had to walk to the other end of park to get on bus. They had one bus taking people down, one small tent to get people under and we got soaked. Staff was not very nice. A BIG WASTE OF MONEY.

  14. It’s a waste of time and money paid hard earned money to go up there for maybe 20 mintues everything was being worked on all the coruses.No one said anything anything when we paid we basically paid for just a bumpy ride up the mountain I rather do the skylift it’s cheaper and much better.

  15. We totally loved it. Our daughter got engaged up on the ANAKEESTA by the heart it turned out awesome. She knew nothing about it and was totally surprised.

  16. We loved it!!! We walked the Walk between the trees 2 times. Rode the ski lift and the bus. Saw multiple bears and Cubs especially on the bus ride. We had a blast. The staff was awesome. Did not eat there. Went to a restaurant in town and then went back up. It was just grownups in our group. No small children.

  17. Very disappointed in our visit to Anakeesta on Monday, Aug 2, 2021.
    We purchased tickets prior to arrival and waited in line for a tram up. Confusion in lines and very mismanaged.
    The line for the Rail Runner was also poor. Waited in line to register, and another line to pay. We had a designated time to ride the Rail Runner and again over an hour wait for a 3 minute ride. Some folks were disgusted with waiting and requested a refund.
    Some food vendors were out of food. i.e the Walking Taco vendor had run out of meat & chips at 2:00pm.
    Waited in a line for close to 2 hours before we could get a bus down, the tram ride down was just as long. Tired children & heat made for a miserable wait.
    Oversold tickets to the park. Too crowded.

  18. I think Anakeesta is well worth the money! I’m a senior citizen and I don’t go for the “rides” but the beautiful views, especially the sunsets! I have to say this is my top “must see” when I visit. I’ll be back in Oct and hopefully see some beautiful colors as well!

  19. We were in Gatlinburg the last of Sept/first of Oct 2021 and we went to Anakeesta. Enjoyed it very much. Flower gardens and views were beautiful. We are in our seventies so we did not ride the zipline or coaster. I can see where it would get expensive with children because they would want to do that. We also ate mac and cheese with brisket (I think it was the Smokehouse) and I’ve had better brisket only one time before (from a friend) but when we go back, we will split an order. It was huge. This experience was well worth it for us.

  20. How can I receive info in the mail concerning senior citizen prices with what age you consider seniors and info about everything to do there…Thank you

  21. Not at all worth the money for our family. Not much of anything for young children ages 5, 4, and 18 months. We didn’t stay long. A total waste.

  22. Not worth the money , unless you want to only sit and drink the whole time . We are not drinkers ! The views were beautiful but I think you can see those in other places just as well. One time was enough for us , we can say been there done that.


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