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New Anakeesta Mountain Coaster Now Open

Anakeesta has recently announced the opening of their second mountain coaster, the Hellbender Smoky Mountain Coaster. This new Anakeesta mountain coaster is part of the second phase of their $34 million expansion plan. The Hellbender joins their single-rail mountain coaster, the Rail Runner, to add more thrill to Anakeesta’s mountaintop experience. Here’s what you need to know about the new Anakeesta mountain coaster and how you can ride it!


About the New Anakeesta Mountain Coaster

The Hellbender Smoky Mountain Coaster just opened this month as the second Anakeesta mountain coaster. This is a double-rail coaster that winds along a 3,350-foot track overlooking the Smoky Mountains. You’ll race through 7 turns and drop a total of 240 feet over the course of your ride. The Hellbender can reach speeds upward of 25 miles per hour, but you get to control your speed and choose to either zoom through the trees or take a leisure ride downhill as you enjoy the natural scenery. You can ride alone or tandem–just make sure the combined weight doesn’t exceed the 330-pound weight limit. 

Origin of the Name Hellbender

Hellbender salamander in riverThe name Hellbender pays tribute to one of the most unique residents of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the hellbender salamander. The hellbender, also known as a devil dog, mud puppy, water dog, lasagna lizard, or snot otter, makes its home in the fast-moving rivers and streams of the Smokies. These salamanders have flat bodies and loose, wrinkly skin through which they breathe. This species is the largest of the 30 species of salamander in the Smoky Mountains and can grow to nearly 30 inches long and 5 pounds in weight. Populations of this aquatic amphibian have been disappearing in the national park, making it important to learn about and protect them.

Difference Between the Two Anakeesta Mountain Coasters

The Hellbender is the second of two Anakeesta Mountain Coasters. The first coaster, the Rail Runner, is the first single-rail mountain coaster in the United States. That means the Hellbender is the first mountain coaster at Anakeesta with a double-rail track. The Hellbender’s 3,350-foot track makes for a longer ride than the Rail Runner, which travels along a 1,600-foot track. This makes the Hellbender over twice the length of the Rail Runner! However, the Rail Runner speeds down nearly twice the elevation change of that of the Hellbender, making it a more thrilling experience. Both mountain coasters use a self-braking system so you can enjoy the ride at your own pace, and both provide the opportunity for solo and tandem rides–though the maximum weights differ.

Brand New Anakeesta Coaster Pass

Top of Anakeesta with mountain view in backgroundIf you want to experience the new Hellbender Smoky Mountain Coaster, you can purchase Anakeesta’s brand new Coaster Pass. This pass allows you to enjoy two rides on either of the Hellbender or Rail Runner Mountain Coasters for one price. You can choose to ride your favorite Anakeesta mountain coaster twice, or take one ride on each to experience them both! This is an add-on price that you can purchase in addition to your admission ticket, which is also required to access the mountain coasters. Each rider must have a coaster ticket to ride unless riding tandem and the passenger is between 38 and 48 inches tall.

Visit Anakeesta in Gatlinburg, TN

The Hellbender Smoky Mountain Coaster is a thrilling new addition to Anakeesta in Gatlinburg, TN. You’ll love riding the new Anakeesta mountain coaster and exploring all the other fun things to do at this mountaintop theme park, such as the scenic Chondola, Dueling Ziplines, AnaVista Tower, Treetop Skywalk, Challenge Courses, and much more! Find out more about visiting Anakeesta and start planning your trip today!