Thursday, September 21, 2023

Tennessee adventure park Anakeesta to invest $34 million in future expansions

Anakeesta has announced a multimillion-dollar expansion, marking their most largest development to date. Overlooking Gatlinburg, Tennessee, the mountaintop adventure park is home to views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The expansion, an investment of $34 million, will take place over the next three years and double the size of the guest experience within the park.

New additions include:

  • an enchanted night walk with immersive lighting and audio guiding guests through a celestial story within the woods;
  • a second thrilling mountain coaster;
  • a European-themed village with shopping, dining and immersive plaza with an interactive waterfall;
  • and a brand-new whimsical birdhouse-themed play area with enormous adventure elements down the mountain and more.
Image courtesy of Anakeesta.

“As Gatlinburg’s iconic destination, we’re excited to continue offering Tennessee visitors incomparable adventures that elevate the Smoky Mountain guest experience,” said Bob Bentz, Founder and Managing Partner of Anakeesta. “This historic expansion will take our park to new heights with unparalleled moments of magic and extraordinary mountain thrills that only Anakeesta and the Great Smoky Mountains can deliver.”

The first phase of the expansion will open this November. In partnership with Moment Factory, an award-winning multimedia entertainment studio headquartered in Montreal, Canada, Anakeesta guests will take a nighttime journey through a Smoky Mountain Forest where they will experience illuminating encounters of lighting, projection and sound to connect with the mystery of the stars on a magical Astra Lumina Enchanted Night Walk. This will be Moment Factory’s 15th Lumina Night Walk experience and the first in the United States.

Image courtesy of Anakeesta.

In the spring of 2023, the first part of a European-themed village will open as Anakeesta further expands its adventure offerings with two new attractions for the young and young-at-heart. The first is BirdVenture: a birdhouse-inspired play zone where guests can imagine life as a bird in the Smokies. Kids of all ages will experience three larger-than-life birdhouses, a dozen adventure zones, and seven giant serpentine slides winding more than 50 feet down the mountain.

The second attraction is a thrilling new mountain coaster that boasts experiential tunnels, with twists and turns through the forest giving guests an exciting downhill adventure. The new double-rail mountain coaster will be themed to the native Smoky Mountain salamander species, giving it the name of Hellbender. With this new installation, Anakeesta will have both a single-rail and double-rail mountain coaster.

The first phase of this expansion project also includes a new interactive mountain waterfall and cave system surrounded by walking trails and Anakeesta’s lush gardens. Guests will be able to walk behind the falls and explore the caves within this water feature designed to evoke the natural beauty of waterfalls found throughout hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains.

As Anakeesta looks ahead, the rest of the park’s vast expansion will continue as the village opens in phases throughout 2024. Future elements will include a heavily themed restaurant and brewery, event center, and entertainment stage with indoor and outdoor seating.

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