Is Anakeesta Worth It? A Personal Review With Discounts [2023]

anakeesta chair lift at entrance

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

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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.

TheSmokies.com

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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/TheSmokies.com)

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/TheSmokies.com)

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/TheSmokies.com)

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/TheSmokies.com)

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/TheSmokies.com)

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 anakeesta.com. 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.

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.

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24 thoughts on “Is Anakeesta Worth It? A Personal Review With Discounts [2023]”

  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. Beautiful views, but definitely not worth the money! Wish I would have saw the reviews before going.

  12. 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

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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!

  20. 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.

  21. 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

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