Ober Gatlinburg

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 Ober Gatlinburg worth the price? An honest review

Ober Gatlinburg is a ski and amusement park area, and it also happens to be is the state’s only ski and snowboard destination.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Ober Gatlinburg in Tennessee is mostly known for its winter attractions.   

However, the theme park also offers a variety of additional activities that make it a year-round tourist destination.

The real question is, is Ober Gatlinburg worth the price? See if it’s right for you in this complete overview of Gatlinburg’s most iconic attraction.

What does Ober Gatlinburg mean?

Ober is a German word meaning “upper” or “top of”, so Ober Gatlinburg translates to “Upper Gatlinburg.”

Claude Anders brought the idea of the Aerial Tramway to the Smokies in 1973 as a way to make it easier for skiers to access the local ski resort.

Two years later, the Anders family purchased the resort, and the tram and resort were merged as one.

Today, Ober Gatlinburg has grown to include other attractions, rides and an enclosed mall. 

A carousel at Ober Gatlinburg in Tennessee
The inside of Ober Gatlinburg features as enclosed mall with carousel rides, ice skating and more (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Is Ober Gatlinburg worth the money?

As with most things, worth is in the eye of the beholder.

Growing up in East Tennessee, I have always thought of Ober Gatlinburg as a staple in the area.

I grew up taking field trips here as a kid. I had one of my first dates here as a teen.

But as an adult, I’d be lying if I said parts of it didn’t feel outdated.

If you compare it to its modern counterpart Anakeesta, its age shows. But if you have young kids, Ober may be the better deal for you. 

Read Also: Anakeesta vs. Ober Gatlinburg: Which attraction is better?

Here are a few pros and cons.

The pros of Ober Gatlinburg: 

  • Ober Gatlinburg is full of nostalgia and history 
  • The Aerial Tramway is unique and offers a wonderful view of the Smokies 
  • It is a great place to bring the entire family and is very kid-friendly 
  • There are a lot of activities, attractions and shops to experience 
  • It’s the only place in Tennessee to ski or snowboard

The cons of Ober Gatlinburg: 

  • Paying individual prices for everything can get expensive if you’re not careful
  • Parts of it feel a bit outdated. It is a resort from the 70s, and it shows

How much does it cost to ride the Ober Gatlinburg?

You may have noticed one of the attraction’s iconic features, the Aerial Tramway.

At the time of this writing, a ticket to ride the tramway is $19 for adults and $16 for children 5-11. Prices may increase during holiday periods.

You can save a couple of dollars when you buy in advance and book through Tripster.

If you prefer to drive up the mountain instead, you do not have to ride the tramway to get to Ober Gatlinburg, which is a key difference between Ober and Anakeesta.

A scenic chairlift at Ober Gatlinburg
A scenic chairlift also provides scenic views of the mountains (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

How long do you spend at Ober Gatlinburg?

It depends on what you want to do there. It also varies depending on crowd size and time of year.

If you’re riding the Aerial Tramway, it might take more than an hour to get up to the top of the mountain, depending on the crowds. Once you’re there, allow 3-4 hours or so if you want to try out a few activities.

If you only want to drive up, park and look around, you may not need much more than an hour or so. It completely depends on the activities you choose.

This brings us to the activities that Ober Gatlinburg offers. Note that prices listed here may vary by season and are subject to change.

How much does it cost to go to Ober Gatlinburg?

Most of Ober Gatlinburg’s tickets are purchased separately and on-site.

The main things you want to buy in advance are tickets for the Aerial Tramway as well as snow tubing, since snow tubing tickets may sell out.

Overall, if you have good self-control and wish to only sample a few of the hot spots, Ober can be relatively affordable.

But remember that these à la carte items can add up quickly, in my experience.

Activities that are offered year-round include:

  • The Aerial Tramway ($19-22 per adult, $16-19 per child)
  • Carousel ($4 per person)
  • Ice bumper cars ($10 per person)
  • Ice skating ($10 per person)
  • Scenic chairlift ($10 per person)
  • Wildlife encounter ($10 per adult, $7 per child)

There are also shopping and dining opportunities at Ober Gatlinburg.

The Aerial Tramway at Ober Gatlinburg
The Aerial Tramway at Ober Gatlinburg operates year-round (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Spring activities at Ober Gatlinburg

Open activities in the spring include:

  • Ski mountain coaster ($16 per adult, $12 per child)
  • Alpine slide ($10 per person)
  • Mini golf ($4 per person)
  • Kiddie rides ($4 for all day)
  • Rock wall ($4 per person)
  • Snow tubing (early spring only, $30-35 per person)
Raft ride at Ober Gatlinburg
Raft Rides like the Blue Cyclone open in the summer (photo by Marie Graichen/TheSmokies.com)

Summer activities at Ober Gatlinburg

One of the most exciting features of summer in Ober is summer tubing.

Guests can enjoy the thrill of tubing – without having to bundle up in a mountain of clothes.

A new feature in 2022 that Ober Gatlinburg is offering will be hiking the trails at Ober.

The goal, according to their website, is to provide an introduction to hiking for the whole family that is full of adventure.

The hike will be a 1.5-mile guided hike through the woods surrounding the 60-year-old ski slopes that border the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Open activities in the summer include:

  • Trails at Ober ($20 per person)
  • Amaze’N Maze ($4 per person)
  • Chair swing ($4 per person)
  • Summer tubing ($4 per person)
  • Water raft rides ($4 per person)

Many spring activities are still available in the summer as well.

Fall activities at Ober Gatlinburg

Fall in Tennessee is one of my favorite sights to behold. The fall colors are simply breathtaking.

It’s also a great time to ride the Aerial Tramway.

Best of all, most of Ober Gatlinburg’s attractions (listed above) are open during the fall but be sure to check the website for details as you plan your trip.

Lift at Ober Gatlinburg
The lift at Ober Gatlinburg (photo by Jaclyn Torrente/shutterstock.com)

Winter activities at Ober Gatlinburg

Last but certainly not least, winter is the peak season at Ober Gatlinburg.

Unfortunately, wait times may be at a peak as well, especially on holidays and weekends, so be sure to plan accordingly.

For ski and snowboard beginners, Ober has ski instructors and lessons available for purchase.

Snow tubing is, of course, offered throughout the winter. However, it is especially popular at Ober Gatlinburg, so be sure to reserve your spot online before you go.

Other open activities in the winter include:

  • Cubbies snow zone
  • Skiing and snowboarding
  • Terrain park

Does Ober Gatlinburg have real snow?

Ober Gatlinburg uses a snowmaking system that is one of the largest and most advanced in the world, according to their website.

And at its core, machine-made snow is not artificial snow. It’s frozen water droplets.

Read Also: Does Ober Gatlinburg have snow? A look at the Ober Gatlinburg snow cam

Visit their website to learn more about Ober Gatlinburg and view current operating hours.

Do you think Ober Gatlinburg offers a good deal? Let us know in the comments!