Hey fellow parents! If you’re ever in the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area of Tennessee, you should consider a trip to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies! They have thousands of sea creatures plus adorable penguins!

One of the most impressive areas of Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is the glass underwater tunnel. This moving 340 foot long sidewalk glides you underneath the sharks, tarpons, sea turtles, giant stingrays, sawfish, and much more!.

We’re diving into all things Ripley’s. Ticket prices, the not-to-be-missed exhibits, and everything else!

When Is The Best Time To Visit The Aquarium of the Smokies

Timing is everything! Gatlinburg has grown so much in the past few years and it does get super busy at times. Weekdays are normally more relaxed compared to the weekends, making it an ideal time to explore. Try going midweek ( if possible ) to have plenty of time to see everything, take awesome pics and enjoy without feeling rushed or crowded. We visited on a Monday in January and it was really empty!.

If you can’t make it during the week, try planning your visit after dinner. Most people normally went home by then.

Spring and fall has better weather and normally fewer crowds. Summer, being the high season, attracts way more visitors, especially families with kiddos out of school on vacation.

Where Is The Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies Located?

88 River Rd, Gatlinburg, TN 37738

At What Time Does Gatlinburg Aquarium (Open & Close)?

These are just seasonal averages and times can change around.
(Colder months normally have less operating hours than warmer months)

Time PeriodOpen TimeClose Time
January – February10 AM8 PM
March – Memorial Day9 AM9 PM
Memorial Day – Labor Day9 AM11 PM
Labor Day – New Year’s Day9 AM9 PM

Always Check Their Website Before Your Visit.

How Much Does It Cost To Get Into The Gatlinburg Aquarium?

Ticket TypePrice
Adult (12+)$39.99
Child (6-11)$24.99
Toddler (2-5)$9.99
Under 2Free

Benefits Of Online Ticket Purchase

If you are planning ahead, Try to buy your tickets online. That way, you can skip the ticket line once you get there,  but you might also save some money!. Keep an eye out for online deals and bundled packages.

No printer? No problem! They Can Scan Your Tickets From Your Phone!

Does The Ripley’s Aquarium of the smokies Offer any Discounts?

Yes, They Do! If you want to go beyond the Aquarium experience, Ripley’s offers Combo Passes. The more attractions you buy at one time, the more you save. If you are only in the area for a few days and can’t visit all of the attractions – don’t worry, you can still use your tickets next time.

Tickets are valid for one year from date of purchase and Reservations are not required.

Take Advantage of Combo Passes To Maximize Your Savings!

Promotion TypePotential Combo Savings
Aquarium +2 other attractionsSAVE $25!
Aquarium +3 other attractionsSAVE $35!
Aquarium +4 other attractionsSAVE $45!
Aquarium +5 other attractionsSAVE $55!
Aquarium +6 other attractionsSAVE $65!
Aquarium +7 other attractionsSAVE $75!
Aquarium +10 other attractionsSAVE $115!

How Long Does It Take To Go Trough Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg

The Famous Question : How long does it take to navigate this underwater wonderland?

Google suggests an average visit of about 2.5 hours but it really depends on your family and pace. If you have toddlers, it will probably take you longer especially since they will not want to leave the indoor playground. There are really so many things to see, do and learn, that it might take you around 4 to 5 hours!.

Map Of The Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

quick Video of the underwater glass tunnel

How Many Exhibits Does Gatlinburg’s Aquarium Have?

 Upper Floor ExhibitsLower Floor Exhibits 
Ocean RealmCoral Reef
Shark LagoonDiscovery Center
Touch Ray BayGallery of Seas
Tropical RainforestStingray Bay
 Penguin Playhouse

You start your adventure on the upper floor with the “Ocean Realm.” The kids’ eyes light up as they spot colorful and funny looking fish and mysterious creatures.
Next up, the “Shark Lagoon” –  Sharks of all shapes and sizes swim gracefully, it’s a jaw-dropping spectacle for every age.

Now, let’s talk about the “Touch Ray Bay.” Here, your kids can dip their fingers into the water and feel the gentle glide of rays. It’s an interactive experience that brings giggles and amazement. And oh, the “Tropical Rainforest” – a burst of colors and exotic wonders. Poison dart frogs, giant catfish – it’s like a mini tropical expedition for your little explorers.

Heading downstairs, in the “Coral Reef” you can find angelfish, butterflyfish and so many others. Right after, don’t miss the “Discovery Center,” an area where you can touch jellies, and guests can interact with moon jellies – playing and learning with the help of Ripley’s Educators. Then comes the “Gallery of Seas” with seahorses and sea dragons which look so cool!.

But the adventure doesn’t end there. “Stingray Bay” offers an interactive experience, letting your little ones get up close and even feed them!  And finally, the “Penguin Playhouse” – a haven for kids. Crawling through acrylic tunnels where you can see the penguins!

These are just some of the things you will find at the Aquarium.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies Restaurants & Quick Bites.


Ripley’s Feeding Frenzy

The Aquarium’s only restaurant – “Feeding Frenzy,” is strategically positioned to give you a stunning view of Stingray Bay while you eat. You can find it towards the end of the aquarium journey on the lower floor.

You can order entrees, drinks or snacks. Some choices you can get are Cheeseburgers, Chicken Tenders, Pizza, Pretzels, Hot Dogs/Corn Dogs and more. Prices vary from $2 – $12 plus tax.

Ripley’s Mini Donuts

You can also find a small snack shop next to the Discovery Center which has Mini fresh donuts, candies, drinks, and other quick snacks. It’s the perfect pitstop to refuel as you continue exploring the wonders within Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.

Gatlinburg’s Ripley’s Aquarium Special Dining Options / Packages

– Pancakes and Penguins –

Ticket TypePrice
– Ages 4 and older$99.99
Note: Prices are per person. 

Indulge in stacks of pancakes, eggs, bacon, juices and more amidst the company of charming penguins.

Capture magical moments with a penguin photo op and chat with our animal experts. As an added bonus, each guest aged two and above takes home a cute penguin painting!. After the event, you get Aquarium admission.

– Mermaid Breakfast –

Ticket TypePrice
Ages 12 and older$79.99
Ages (2-11)$59.99
Ages 2 and under$4.99
Note: Prices are per person. 

For a truly enchanting experience, the Mermaid Breakfast offers an aquatic adventure with yummy food. Breakfast includes scrambled eggs, bacon, biscuits, potatoes, juices and coffee. After breakfast, you can meet and greet & snap a shell-fie with a mermaid!. You also get to watch a Mermaid dive show, you get a special gift for each child and Aquarium admission following the event.

 ( Remember you need to reserve these events in advance on their website. )

How Much Is Parking at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

Traffic Light #3 Parking Garage

At Ripley’s Aquarium, this parking facility has 364 spaces. The cost of parking is a flat rate of $10 per day. Digital signs outside the garage entrance keep you informed about real-time parking space availability. Payment can be made via credit card at the exit gate or at self-serve kiosks located on the bottom floor.

Free Park and Ride Lots

Gatlinburg provides an excellent cost-saving option with free Park and Ride lots available at the Gatlinburg Welcome Center and the City Hall Complex on Highway 321. Park your car at these locations and take advantage of the complimentary Gatlinburg Trolley to navigate the town, eliminating the need for additional parking fees.

Private Parking Options

Downtown Gatlinburg offers over 20 private parking lots. Prices for these private lots vary. ( usually $20 )

Is The Ripley’s Aquarium Of The Smokies Worth It?

Absolutely, You should visit Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies at least once! Here is Why.

Family-Friendly Experience

The aquarium provides a family-friendly atmosphere,  so that visitors of all ages, especially kiddos, will have a great time exploring!.

Engaging Exhibits

With nine extraordinary exhibits, like Interactive experiences and touch tanks featuring different marine habitats, families can have a blast together.

Affordable Admission

The ticket prices are reasonable and buying your tickets Online can offer potential savings.

Bundled Experiences

The option to combine the aquarium visit with other attractions through bundled passes is a great money saving option if you were thinking on going to other attractions anyways.

Discount Opportunities

Discounts are available for military personnel, local residents, first responders, educators, AAA members, and seniors.

I would recommend Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies to anyone who is visiting Gatlinburg.
Enjoy & Have fun.

Have you visited this Aquarium?
Share your experience with us!

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