Ripley’s Attractions in Gatlinburg TN Review

In my third in my vacation article I take a look at the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not attractions in the Gatlinburg, Tennessee area. We bought a seven attraction combo package online that allowed the three of us to visit all of them. If you’re planning a week or so stay in the area I recommend doing this because it will save you a significant amount of money. In this review I’ll take a look at all seven Ripley’s locations there and give you an idea of what each of them were like.

Reviews Continued Below…

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies Review

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies was certainly one of the high points of our vacation. This is one of the better and up-to-date aquarium attractions that you’ll find in the US. The only one that was better was the Georgia Aquarium. If you’ve been there imagine it at about half the size in terms of tank size, exhibits and crowd size and you’ll have a good idea of what the Aquarium of the Smokies is like.

The exhibits were interesting and informative. I especially liked the new ‘lethal weapons’ exhibit that featured various dangerous aquatic life from an electric eel to cone snails to a blue ringed octopus. Also there were excellent underwater shows in the reef fish tank and sting ray tank. In these shows a diver fed the fish while a guide described the fish. As part of the ray exhibit you could also touch the rays in a shallow area of the pool. And, of course, there’s the underwater tunnel where you can view sharks and other fish swimming about over you. Since the sawtooth fish like to relax on top of the tunnel this gives you a great view of the underside of this unusual fish.

I highly recommend this attraction to just about anyone. Just watch out for the strong ‘fishy’ smell you get when you enter although you’ll get used to it quickly.

Ripley’s Mirror Maze Review

Ripley’s Mirror Maze is, as you might suspect, a maze made with mirrors. I found it on the small side as compared to other such mazes in the area. It’s a good deal when you get it with the combo ticket but if you aren’t using the combo I’d recommend trying a different maze attraction, there are better and bigger ones around in the area. The maze is attached to a candy shop so kids of all ages will be tempted to spend more on some treats. The price on them is about average for the area. (Hint, there are more or less public restrooms in this attraction down the left side from the candy store.)

Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum Review

Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum in Gatlinburg is the home of several interesting exhibits ranging from two headed animals to optical and sonic illusions to human oddities. My favorite parts were the prison exhibit and the horror section. The holographic version of Robert Ripley sitting at his desk was good too although the volume was a bit too low for me to hear it well. Being sort of a history buff and a weird stuff fan I enjoyed this visit but my wife and son got tired of it after a while. The museum is three stories so you’ll go up and down stairs and if you’re tired from walking about Gatlinburg this attraction will wear you out even more.

I recommend this exhibit for adults who’re interested in weird trivia and the like, such as myself, but beware of boredom by other members of your party, especially most kids and younger teens.

Ripley’s Moving Theater Review

Ripley’s Moving Theater uses motion simulator technology with seats that move in 8 directions along with a 70mm film format to create the illusion of motion. This kind of theater is quite common in tourist spots these days and can be quite fun. This year the theater is showing an Indiana Jones clone temple adventure and a glacier skiing adventure, no T-Rex in sight so don’t let the one on the exterior fool you. I found the features to be a lot of fun and entertaining although rather short in duration. Perhaps they have a need to empty out and refill the small theater quickly. At nearly $15 a pop, this attraction isn’t cheap for about 10 minutes of your time. It’s not a bad deal as part of the combo package but it’s rather expensive and may even be disappointing for the price.

Ripley’s Haunted Adventure Review

Ripley’s Haunted Adventure features a haunted casket company motif. The exterior of the attraction is well done and the actors out front do a good job of creating an atmosphere. You’re taken up to the start of the house in a wire trolley like contraption where you meet another actor who describes the rules to you. The guy who was doing this for our group was quite impressive in terms of accent and keeping in creepy character. The rest of the adventure you’re suppose to hold on to the person in front of you and grope your way in the dark from scare to scare. Given that it’s mostly in total to semi-total darkness the majority of it is simply stumbling along in the dark. If you have fear of the dark and/or enclosed spaces this will bother you. There are a few last minute scares that are good but I won’t spoil them for you.

I recommend this attraction more for older teens than younger ones. Adults, unless they’re horror or haunted house buffs, are likely to be more annoyed than entertained. Older teen guys on a date should really appreciate this attraction, just make sure you lead the way with your date’s hand on your shoulder.  

Ripley’s Davy Crocket Mini Golf and Arcade Review

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to try out Ripley’s Davy Crocket Mini Golf course. The afternoon we planned to go to it there was a thunderstorm and we ended up doing other stuff. The course did look interesting and we will have to give it a try when we return. I think there are better mini-golf courses in the area but this one is no slouch based on appearances. It should round out the combo ticket quite well.

Ripley’s Old MacDonald’s Farm Mini Golf and Arcade Review

Lastly, Ripley’s Old MacDonald’s Farm Mini Golf isn’t in Gatlinburg but in nearby Pigeon Forge. The design here is based on Old MacDonald and features barnyard animals and a rather challenging mini-golf course. You have 3 courses to choose from of varying difficulty. We selected the mid-level course. It was a lot of fun and it wasn’t always clear where the ball would come out at. The attached arcade had a variety of video games and ticket redemption games. While the games weren’t all in the best of repair, the staff was helpful and friendly.

 


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19 Comments »

Comment by Mary Fellows
2009-06-07 21:34:39

I didn’t even realise that you could get coupons at ebay for things like the ripley attractions in gatlinburg TN. I remember being very under-whelmed by the ripley’s believe it or not museum at Niagara falls - I hadn’t realise that there were ripleys in Tennasse!

Comment by jfc
2009-06-07 22:19:21

Hi Mary,

There are coupon books all over the area and I suspect that some on the ones being sold online are either what’s available free when you get to the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area or timeshare bait. Of course, some people sell unused tickets online as well and you can often snag a vacation deal this way.

I’ve been to the Ripley’s Museums in Gatlinburg and St. Augustine, FL. The one in Gatlinburg is the better of the two. You do have to be into weird stuff to appreciate the museums though.

Comment by bobjones
2009-06-14 19:57:27

Thats useful to know Frank - the things people will do to get you into a timeshare deal - I remember getting some excellent meals in Mexico from time share companies - no problem about being sold to as I had no money! I will keep an eye out for coupons the next time I am in Gatlinburg TN

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
 
 
2009-06-07 23:52:24

Really a good read and good place also.

 
2009-06-08 01:31:18

Sounds super cool…would love to see the electric eels at the aquarium. Good idea getting coupons.

 
Comment by Best CSS Gallery
2009-06-08 04:36:53

I never had a clue you can buy coupons at ebay

 
Comment by JL Palmetto
2009-06-08 07:43:57

Wow, a blogger’s work is never done. Other people go on vacation, but u ‘cover vacation’ as an assignment. Very cool- thanks.

I have never been to Gatlinburg, but have always wanted to go. This gives me a good idea what’s there.

Thanks for the ebay discount coupon trick!

JL

 
Comment by gas rebate cards
2009-06-09 04:49:38

I’ve been to a Ripley’s Believe it or not down in Orlando, Florida, it was quite fun, and definitely an experience that I would say everyone should try out. It was weird before I first stepped into the Ripley’s place, because the building was shaped to look like it was sinking into the ground, lol.

 
Comment by Allyn
2009-06-09 06:52:10

I love Gatlingburg (a common misspelling) and when I was younger, I used to beg my folks to take me there to the Ripley’s museum. It is a great place to visit and really less expensive than other places you can go in that area like Cherokee, NC.
AL

 
Comment by Web Marketing
2009-06-10 07:34:39

Aquariums always do it for me. I never realized Ripley’s had so many different things going on in one area. Shows you what living on the other side of the world does for one’s general knowledge. This trip sounds wonderful, I would love to do the Ripley’s tour someday.

 
Comment by Lorecee
2009-06-10 22:18:06

I’ve been to New York, New Zealand, and New Buffalo, but I’ve never even heard of Gatlinburg as a tourist destination. Shows how much I know.

I did know that Dollywood is nearby, though. I take it you didn’t visit?

Comment by jfc
2009-06-10 23:13:17

Hi Lorecee,

We weren’t too far away from Dollywood but we decided not to visit it this time around. We may catch it another time around. I’m going to do a another post on the other attractions we visited in the area soon.

 
 
Comment by Used Tires
2009-06-16 04:43:28

WOW I never knew the cone snail was a dangerous animal, nor any species of octopus. I always loved mirror mazes, they are always a blast. I can imagine the Ripley’s version being a bit pricey though, it seems like you made a good deal though. Moving theaters are always a blast, although you are right they tend to be short, and pricey .. especially this one!

Till then,

Jean

 
2009-07-25 11:17:26

Ripley’s Believe it or Not is quite a site, I went to see it in San Francisco

 
Comment by James
2009-09-22 07:01:15

My kids love mazes, if the ripley one is no good can you suggest some ones that are better?
Thanks

 
Comment by Bratwurst Recipes
2009-10-31 10:11:51

Hello Mary,
This is really a very informative and interesting article! Thank you!
Wow!!! Have to tell you; what excitement! It looks like you had a lot of fun in your vacation in Gatlinburg TN. Thanks for the recommendations and for sharing all this info with us, I really appreciate it.
I will definitely check it out next time I am in TN.

 
2009-11-30 06:09:03

I would say its a great recommendation as it is going to save the significant amount of the money.

 
Comment by Berg
2009-12-02 04:09:10

Thanks for the review. How long did the tour take?

 
Comment by Boxing Bags
2009-12-26 16:52:08

Thanks for this review - I have only been to the Ripleys on Hollywood blvd in LA

 
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