Here We Grow Again: Anakeesta in Gatlinburg Prepares for Biggest Expansion Yet
You may remember in 2020 when Anakeesta in Gatlinburg completed its largest expansion yet, including the opening of the AnaVista Tower! If you thought that was incredible, wait until you hear about their new expansion, which will be their biggest expansion yet! This $34 million expansion will double the size of the guest experience over the next 3 years. We’ve gathered all the details we know so far on the Anakeesta expansion.
About the Anakeesta Expansion
Anakeesta recently added a first-of-its-kind nighttime experience, Lumina Nights, that opened in late October in the park and will continue throughout the 2023 season. However, that’s not the only new addition coming to the popular Gatlinburg attraction. Anakeesta is gearing up for its biggest expansion yet — bigger than the $6.5 million expansion in 2020! This $34 million expansion will add provide more opportunities for visitors to enjoy the park. Here’s what to expect:
Birdventure will allow visitors to fly high with brand new adventures in the park. This new area of the park will feature 3 new birdhouses that are larger than life, adventure zones, and 7 slides that will wind more than 50 feet down the mountain. The new challenge course will be designed to be fun for thrill-seekers of all ages, and the slide paths are the first of their kind in the United States.
New Mountain Coaster
If you love the Rail Runner Mountain Coaster, then you’ll love this new part of the expansion! Anakeesta in Gatlinburg will be adding a brand new mountain coaster for double the thrill. The ride will be called Hellbender, and will be a double-railed coaster instead of single-railed like the Rail Runner. It’s themed to reflect the local Smoky Mountain salamander species and expected to debut in the spring of 2023.
New Retail Areas
As part of the expansion, Anakeesta announced two new retail areas, one of which just opened in March 2023! Anakeesta opened up Great Outdoors Trading Company on the Parkway, which will feature Anakeesta souvenirs, Smoky Mountain apparel, and more. A new shop, Bear Essentials, has opened in Great Outdoors Trading Company’s place on the top of the mountain. The second retail location will be called Elk Exchange and will be located alongside the new Hellbender mountain coaster.
A New Village
One of the parts we’re most excited about is the brand new village that’s coming. The previously mentioned additions will all be part of this European-themed village. Think Firefly Village — but bigger! It will feature the finest new shops and dining in the Smoky Mountain area. The first phase of the expansion will add a waterfall and cave system to the trails and gardens, allowing guests to explore behind falls and in caves. The rest of the village will open in phases throughout 2024 and include an event center, stage with indoor and outdoor seating, and a themed restaurant and brewery.
This is all we know about the Anakeesta expansion so far, but as soon as we get any more details, we will keep you updated.
The First Anakeesta Expansion
It was just two years ago when Anakeesta was working on its first big expansion. This expansion brought new shops, new dining options, and new adventures. Some of the main additions from the expansion include:
The AnaVista Tower: This observation tower is the highest point in downtown Gatlinburg and offers 360-degree views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the surrounding states. It makes for a great photo op too!
TreeVenture Challenge Course
This addition included whimsical treehouses connected by a net challenge course with areas to slide, climb and experience multiple levels of fun! Kids love putting their climbing skills to the test here!
Black Bear Village
Black Bear Village brought Cliff Top, a new restaurant for elevated dining, the Mercantile, a modern take on a general store, and Kephart Cafe, a quick-serve restaurant with flatbreads, gourmet hot dogs, and frozen yogurt. Black Bear Village is also home to a splash pad, a fire pit, and live entertainment!
About Anakeesta in Gatlinburg
Anakeesta has quickly become one of the most popular attractions in Gatlinburg, and it’s no surprise why! The mountaintop park is constantly adding new and exciting experiences for visitors. Plus, it’s fun for people of all ages. Kids love the BearVenture Challenge Course and the TreeVenture Challenge Course, teens love the mountain coaster and the ziplines, and adults love the AnaVista Tower and shops! There are plenty of opportunities for both fun and relaxation at Anakeesta in Gatlinburg.
Learn more about all the things you can do at Anakeesta in Gatlinburg, and keep checking back for updates on the Anakeesta expansion!