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Anakeesta announces expansion plans, including coaster ride, 'celestial' walk, village

The first phase opens in November. The work likely will go on throughout 2024.

Anakeesta announced Thursday a $34 million, three-year expansion plan.

The Gatlinburg "mountain adventure" attraction is expected to double the size of the guest experience, Thursday's news release states.

Among the additions: another mountain coaster, a night walk with special lighting and audio that promises to tell a "celestial story within the woods," and a bird-house-themed play area.

Visitors will also see a European-themed village with eating, shopping and an interactive waterfall.

Phase one opens in November and will feature the "Astra Lumina Enchanted Night Walk" through a forest. It's being installed in conjunction with Moment Factory, a Montreal-based entertainment studio.


Plans call for parts of the village to open next spring.

The double-rail mountain coaster will be named Hellbender in honor of the salamander found in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Expansion will continue throughout 2024.

Bob Bentz, founder and managing partner of Anakeesta, said the expansion is yet another addition to the experience visitors can enjoy in the Smoky Mountains..

Credit: Anakeesta
Rendering of the Astra Lumina Enchanted Night Walk planned at Anakeesta.

"Once completed, Anakeesta will transport guests to a unique and iconic mountaintop village that has been designed with nature in mind and adorned with touches of aged copper, stone, and wood. Future elements will include a heavily themed restaurant and brewery, event center, and entertainment stage with indoor and outdoor seating," the release states.

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