03 Jan Anakeesta
Their slogan is “There is magic in the mountains.” After our one day visit in December 2020, my family and I would say we agree! Anakeesta is an outdoor amusement park situated literally on top of a mountain. It was just built in2017 and features dining, shopping, physical activities, nature sculptures, a massive, multi-level viewing deck, and multiple gift shops and other attractions, all amidst a glorious visual backdrop of the world-famous Tennessee mountainscape. We paid a little less than $100 for our family of four, and admission includes most attractions except for ziplining and a mountain coaster, but they were available for an extra charge. We started our visit by waiting in line to board a ski lift type ride that took us to the mountain’s summit, and the views were spectacular. On top of the mountain, we were pleased to find a well-laid out and beautifully scenic open village where we enjoyed wassail (hot spiced cider drinks), explored the many outdoor attractions, and took some breathtaking pictures. My kids especially loved the tree lodge anchored on several tall trees) and the various play areas designed for children to interact with nature while staying active. We enjoyed a casual lunch with unbelievable mountain views at the sit-down restaurant Clifftop Grill & Bar, where we all enjoyed delicious bison burgers. The souvenir shops had a good variety, and prices were reasonable for gift shop standards. I especially appreciated small touches like the nature-themed quotes placed randomly throughout the park, one of which spoke to me; “Jobs fill the pockets, adventure fills the soul.” We spent around six hours before heading back down on the ski lift, which took us back to our starting point of downtown Gatlinburg. Indeed a unique and magical day. Things to note: If it’s cold, make sure to dress plenty warm and in layers. We waited outside around an hour before getting on the ski lift ride up to the top, and it was in the 20’s so needless to say, we were pretty cold, but luckily, we had plenty of clothing on. Also, there is quite a bit of walking involved, which we love, but may not be for everyone. Overall, I highly recommend this experience and found it to be very memorable.