Is Anakeesta worth the money? An honest review

Anakeesta in Gatlinburg

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

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Anakeesta is one of Gatlinburg’s new jewels.

It sits atop a mountain offering spectacular views of both the village and the mountains. Sunsets can be breathtaking and the ride down the chondola at night is especially cool.

But, the more I talk to people about Anakeesta, 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. It all depends on your point of view.

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

A food truck at Anakeesta
Anakeesta offers many tasty places to eat, including food trucks (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

How much does Anakeesta cost?

Your $25 ticket (prices vary for seniors or kids) to ride to the top of the mountain buys you access to spectacular views, the newly added AnaVista Tower and the truly cool Treetop Skywalk.

For the kids, a ticket offers access to 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.

Two years ago, Anakeesta featured a spectacular haunted walk around Halloween that just wasn’t possible last year due to all the 2020 in the air.

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.

BearVenture at Anakeesta
BearVenture is included in the admission price at Anakeesta (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

Which features cost extra at Anakeesta?

The Dueling Zipline experience runs around $55 and the Mountain Coaster is around $13.

When you buy a zipline ticket online, it does include the price of general admission, which makes the deal a little sweeter. Especially compared to other prices for ziplining in the Smokies.

But the tickets for the Rail Runner 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.

Anakeesta also offers great dining options from the sit-down options at Cliff Top, 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.

These, of course, add an additional cost to your trip, but 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 shopping, which is fine, but I can’t imagine anyone paying a $25 entrance fee just to shop up there.

And there lies the rub.

Anakeesta, in my opinion, is pretty great. But it suffers from a split personality complex.

Anakeesta adventure course
For the kids, a ticket offers access to 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 (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

What can you do at Anakeesta?

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.

Anakeesta’s operators have been very open from the beginning that the park is a work in progress.

Read Also: 4 Anakeesta secrets revealed at the AnaVista Tower grand opening

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 that.

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

I think eventually, Anakeesta would be served by two-tiered pricing at the start. One level for those who don’t want to ride the zip line and coaster and another price for those that do.

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 a very good business.

Music at Anakeesta
Anakeesta also occasionally offers live music (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

But is Anakeesta worth it?

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

For my wife and I, we’d pay $25 each 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 $50 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.

Once you pay for admission, a zip line each and a couple of rides on the coaster, we could have gotten into Dollywood and had access to unlimited age-appropriate rides.

I like Anakeesta. I think it’s really cool. But if I want a $100 theme park experience, I’m going elsewhere.

Read Also: Anakeesta vs. SkyLift Park: Which attraction is better? 

For more information on Anakeesta, visit anakeesta.com. Click here to book your tickets.

Do you agree with our review? Let us know in the comments!

To view the web story version of this article, click 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 info@thesmokies.com for questions or comments.

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20 thoughts on “Is Anakeesta worth the money? An honest review”

  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.

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