We are big fans of Anakeesta in Gatlinburg and have covered the park extensively. So when we got the opportunity to go to the grand opening of the new AnaVista tower, we weren’t going to say no! So here’s what the new ‘crown jewel’ of Anakeesta looks like and how you can enjoy all the great adventures at this magical park.
Flying High at Anakeesta
Guests to Anakeesta, the outdoor family adventure park and mountaintop village in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, can now climb to the highest point in the city and enjoy 360 degree views of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Blue Ridge Mountains, and downtown Gatlinburg. The new structure is honestly incredible. In a world full of dull and boring buildings, the AnaVista Tower is an eye-catcher. Designed by one of the founders of Anakeesta, Bob Bentz, it is meant to resemble a flower – a lily is pictured in the signage – opening its petals to the sun.
The tower is in the middle of the stunning gardens atop the mountain, artfully strewn with lilies, colorful little flowers, roses, lilac, and all kinds of other beauties that I love but have no idea what they are called. The views from the garden are amazing. You get up there and look out over the Great Smoky Mountains and just want to take it all in, to breathe freely, and to never leave. It’s peaceful and serene. The founders of Anakeesta are both landscape architects and it shows.
The tower stands 50 feet high and has helpful plaques on every side about what you’re looking at, from Clingman’s Dome to Stone Mountain to Pigeon Forge. You can see for miles. There are also chairs set up on every level if you need to take a break on the way up to the top. It’s the highest point in Gatlinburg and is part of Anakeesta’s $6.5 million expansion plans.
By the way, Anakeesta is only three years old. More than two million people have made their way up to the mountain and already the mountaintop adventure park has earned an impressive number of travel awards.
You can read my full review of Anakeesta and all their attractions including the mountain coaster, the zip lines, the restaurants, and the treetop walk here.
The AnaVista Tower isn’t the only new addition gracing the top of the mountain. The new TreeVenture adventure course was recently unveiled. It easily fits into the landscape of the mountain with natural wood, nets, and fun obstacles for both kids and adults.
That’s right, adults can have just as much fun as the kids! I tried it out and definitely enjoyed the swinging bridges and wobbly structures and huge slide. TreeVenture is creatively designed so it’s a challenge for everyone but also lots of fun.
A new splash pad will open this summer and an indoor restaurant featuring Tennessee BBQ is slated to open in September. They are currently playing outdoor movies at night and are open for adventures with your family.
Be sure to stop at the ice cream parlor, which serves Blue Bell ice cream. I had the blueberry cobbler flavor and am still swooning over the delicious treat.
Health & Safety Policies
Anakeesta has taken several steps to keep their employees and guests safe. All employees have their temperatures checked daily, have been provided face masks, and practice social distancing.
Guests can follow really cute sasquatch signs indicating social distancing requirements. Masks are not required for guests at this point but they are sold for minimal cost if you’d like one.
Chondalas and cabins are cleaned often and sanitized. There are hand sanitizing stations throughout the park as well. You can read more about their policies here.
Admission is good for all day access and unlimited Chondala or Ridge Rambler rides up and down the mountain. Also included in the admission ticket is the AnaVista Tower, TreeVenture, Treetop Skywalk, Treehouse Village Adventure, Overlook Event Area, Vista Gardens Walk, Memorial Forest Walk with interpretive signs, shopping and dining opportunities at Firefly Village, and the most stunning scenic views in all of Gatlinburg.
An adult ticket is $21.99 and children ages 4-11 are $17.99. Kids three and under are free. New this year is the Express Pass, a timed entry ticket to the park.
The all-day access I think is one of the best perks of admission to Anakeesta. We stayed at the beautiful Greystone Lodge, right across the street from Anakeesta, maybe a five minute walk, and the ability to head down the mountain and take a break there and then come back in the evening is a great way to spend the day. The Greystone has a fun pool, perfect for kids and a nice way to relax for parents.
Anakeesta also offers seasonal passes, which are good for an entire year from the date of purchase. This is a great option for families if they know they are coming to Gatlinburg at least twice a year and want to make Anakeesta a part of their visit.
Season passes are $43.98 for adults and $35.98 for kids plus you get extra perks like unlimited access to the Chondola express lane, an extra guest pass, and discounts on food and beverage and entertainment.
Have you been to Anakeesta?