Anakeesta is partnering with locally-based CLIMB Works to build the Dueling Ziplines and Tree Top Walk as well as assist with overall operations and management of the new attraction, and has hired Beanstalk Builders from Morgantown, N.C. to create a whimsical treehouse-themed children’s playground.
Anakeesta owners, Bob and Karen Bentz, traveled to several countries researching different mountain attractions they wanted to feature on the 70 acre Anakeesta property. After traveling throughout the US and Europe they realized much of what they were looking for was right in their own backyard.
“Throughout all of our travels we kept coming back to what we experienced at CLIMB Works,” said Bob Bentz. “That really says something about the level of quality visitors experience in Gatlinburg. It truly rivals anywhere else in the world. We loved CLIMB Works’ message of “Always CLIMB.” CLIMB stands for Challenge, Learn, Inspire, Master, Believe. Their passion to foster personal growth as well as a fun experience is what really hooked us. Partnering with them has been a perfect fit.”
CLIMB Works has an internal design and build team that has built ziplines and outdoor adventure courses throughout the US, including several in Hawaii. The Dueling Ziplines at Anakeesta are some of the highest they’ve ever built with platforms 90 feet up in the air and traveling over ravines that put riders more than 200 feet above ground. The two dual ziplines, each reaching over 1,000 feet, allow riders to zip next to friends or family. The experience also includes multiple rappel and jump activities for an additional adrenaline rush.
The Tree Top Walk will feature a series of bridges suspended in the trees. Each bridge will end at a new treetop observation platform where guests can take in the sights and serenity of the nature that surrounds them. This activity is designed to accommodate all nature-lovers on a non-strenuous, non-belayed stroll through the treetops.
“Anakeesta will offer a unique experience for people visiting Gatlinburg. Within minutes you go from being in the hustle of Downtown Gatlinburg to complete immersion in the beauty of the mountains. That’s what really attracted me to this project,” said Nick Thompson, owner of CLIMB Works. “We have loved being a part of the Gatlinburg community and sharing its beauty with people from all over the world. This is a great opportunity to continue to do just that.”
The treehouse-themed children’s playground is being built by Beanstalk Builders just up the road in Morgantown, N.C. Similar to what drew the Bentzes to CLIMB Works, it was Beanstalk’s mission to “foster an appreciation for the environment, provide on-going injections of self-esteem, development of physical and mental fitness, and revitalization of the human spirit” that captivated them.
Anakeesta’s Treehouse Village will feature whimsically themed treehouses interconnected by multiple bridges of varying challenge. Physical and educational elements designed to build strength and confidence will surprise guests at nearly every turn. Guests of all ages can trek along a log walk to an elevated bird nest where they’ll learn how an American Goldfinch cultivates its home, navigate a plank walk to a maze encapsulated by a house in the trees, and crawl through a tube net to a climbing adventure. This playground is designed for children of all ages.
“We realized early on the immense talent and creativity that exists in our region and community,” said Karen Bentz. “Tapping into that has brought a level of authenticity, craftsmanship, and knowledge of the area that is proving to be a winning combination.”