Anakeesta

Anakeesta vs. Ober Gatlinburg: Which attraction is better?

Anakeesta vs. Ober Gatlinburg: Which is better? This is one of the most common questions we receive.

But as with most things in life, the answer is subjective, so it is not always simple.

Let’s take a look at the differences between Anakeesta and Ober Gatlinburg in Tennessee.

Anakeesta vs. Ober: The similarities

Let’s start with the basics. Why are these two attractions often compared to one another? Well, for starters they are both located on top of a mountain in the heart of the Smokies in downtown Gatlinburg TN.

Both Anakeesta and Ober are family attractions. Both of them offer mountain coasters, fun things to do for kids, aerial views of the city, as well as shopping and dining opportunities.

Okay, so how are they different?

The ride to Anakeesta vs Ober
At Anakeesta (left), you have to pay for admission to ride to the top of the mountain via either the chairs, the chondola (pictured) or the truck. At Ober, you can pay to ride the Aerial Tramway (pictured right) or drive up the mountain on your own (photos by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Anakeesta vs. Ober: Getting up the mountain

One of the noticeable differences between Anakeesta and Ober Gatlinburg is getting up the mountain.

It is required that you purchase admission ($32.99 for adults at the time of this writing) to get up the mountain to see Anakeesta. You can usually find discount tickets on Tripster that make the trip even more affordable.

Most guests will ride in an open chairlift, but an enclosed chondola is also available. Those who have a fear of heights typically prefer the Ridge Rambler (a big truck).

At Ober Gatlinburg, while you may purchase an Aerial Tramway ticket to get to your destination ($19 for adults at the time of this writing), it is possible to drive yourself up the mountain as well.

Parking costs about $10. (You can sometimes save a couple of extra bucks on the aerial tram using Tripster).

It’s also important to note that this drive might be dicey in bad weather conditions. In the winter, make sure you have a 4-wheel drive or chains on your tires. Don’t take any chances.

Both rides up the mountain will offer beautiful views of the mountains.

Of course, if you’re chasing views, you may want to take a look at the famous SkyBridge at Gatlinburg SkyLift Park as well.

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

TreeVenture at Anakeesta in Gatlinburg
TreeVenture is an adventure course for the little ones at Anakeesta (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

Anakeesta vs. Ober: Which one is more expensive?

At the time of this writing, general admission tickets for Anakeesta are $32.99 for adults, $25.99 for seniors and $19.99 for kids (ages 4-11). But again, you can usually save a couple of bucks per ticket when you book through Tripster. Children 3 and under are free.

Your admission includes unlimited access to:

  • Chondola (or Ridge Rambler) rides
  • Treetop Skywalk
  • Treehouse Village Adventure
  • BearVenture
  • TreeVenture
  • Vista Gardens
  • AnaVista Tower
  • Shopping and dining opportunities
Attractions at Ober Gatlinburg in TN
Ober Gatlinburg has many attractions for kids. Tickets for each attraction may be purchased individually (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Ober Gatlinburg is a bit more “à la carte”. Each ride has a cost associated with it. Prices per attraction may range from about $4 per person to about $16 per person.

Some of the offered attractions include:

  • Alpine slide
  • Amaze’N Maze
  • Carousel
  • Chair swings
  • Rock wall
  • Ice bumper cars
  • Ice skating
  • Mini golf
  • Scenic chairlift
  • Ski mountain coaster
  • Scenic chairlift
  • Tubing
  • Rock climbing wall
  • Wildlife encounter

To me, Anakeesta’s pricing system is a little clearer. You pay the admission, you gain access to most things in the park. If you want to ride the Rail Runner or try the Dueling Ziplines, you’ll pay a little more.

Ober Gatlinburg’s pricing system can be a bit more of a pick-your-own-adventure experience. Some people may prefer this, but it depends on what your preference is.

Anakeesta vs. Ober: Which one is better for kids?

I see this question a lot as well, but I’d say that it depends on your kids.

I’ve heard a lot of folks with young kids say they prefer taking their kids to Ober. Ober offers a wider range of activities.

Anakeesta, on the other hand, is a more modern park that has more to offer for the adults while the children can play.

At Anakeesta, kids can explore the treehouses, challenge courses and splash pads while the parents relax with an adult beverage and take in the views. As one friend (and parent) told me, the best way to enjoy Anakeesta is to just chill out.

The bottom line is, each individual will have their own preferences.

Music at Anakeesta in Gatlinburg
Anakeesta often features live music (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

The biggest differences between Anakeesta and Ober Gatlinburg

Anakeesta is a lot newer than Ober Gatlinburg. Anakeesta opened in 2017, and they continue to expand and build upon their mountain experience.

Ober Gatlinburg opened in 1962, and while they do roll out new features, it can feel a bit more outdated when compared to Anakeesta.

It may also depend on which season you’re planning your visit.

Another noticeable difference between the two is the winter activities. If you’re absolutely set on seeing snow, you may want to visit Ober. They offer snow tubing and ice skating in the winter months. Notably, they are the only destination where you can ski and snowboard in the whole state of Tennessee.

But, Anakeesta offers stunning winter decorations in the holiday season.

What’s YOUR opinion on the differences between Anakeesta vs Ober Gatlinburg? Let us know in the comments.

Which attraction do you prefer when you visit the Great Smoky Mountains? Let us know in the comments.

You can view the web story version of this article here.

Is Anakeesta worth the money? An honest review

Anakeesta is one of the new jewels in downtown Gatlinburg.

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. 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 $33 ticket (prices vary for seniors or kids) to ride to the summit of Anakeesta buys you access to spectacular views.

And in addition, the newly added AnaVista Tower and the truly cool Treetop Skywalk, the longest tree-based skywalk bridge in North America. In addition, guests can experience the Vista Gardens retreat.

You can usually find discounted tickets on the Tripster page.

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

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.

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

Which features cost extra at Anakeesta?

At the time of this writing, the Dueling Zipline adventure runs around $88 and the Mountain Coaster is around $13.

When guests 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 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.

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.

You can also relax by the firepit at Firefly Village.

The food, of course, adds 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 quaint shopping, which is fine, but I can’t imagine anyone paying a $32.99 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.

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 of mountain peaks and beautiful scenery.

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 zipline or the Rail Runner Mountain 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 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 $33 each (or $25.99 on Tripster) 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.

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.

I like Anakeesta. I think it’s really cool. But if I want a $100 theme park experience around the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, 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.