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Ripley’s Aquarium & More in Gatlinburg – Believe It!

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Ripley's Aquarium building in Gatlinburg

On my family’s recent getaway to Gatlinburg, there was one thing that we definitely wanted to do while we were there – visit Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.  We found a parking spot and walked over to the aquarium which sits just off of the main strip in Gatlinburg.

After picking up our tickets out front, we went inside and were amazed at all that was there. Upon entering the building there is an area where everyone can have their picture taken together – a memento of the trip, if you will.  From the vantage point of the entrance level, you can look below and see the “petting” area.  People are welcome to touch some creatures of the sea  if they’d like.  (We passed.)

Horseshoe Crab exhibit

Moving on, we saw some pretty interesting piranhas in the Tropical Rainforest section.  I am thankful that I was able to admire them from behind glass at the aquarium.  Another of the 350 species that we were able to admire were the jellyfish.  Look at how beautiful they look swimming in a pool of blue:

Jelly Fish at Ripley's Aquarium

Don’t worry – the water isn’t really “blue.”  Ripley’s has a state-of-the-art filtration system.   There are 1.4 million gallons of water in the exhibits.  The Shark Lagoon holds  750,000 gallons of water and has 11,664,000 gallons circulate through it every 24 hours.

Shark in aquarium

One of the highlights of our visit was going down to the lower level and exploring the fish while meandering through the underwater tunnel.  There is a “people mover” that winds 340 feet through the tunnel that allowed us to take our time and really get an up close view of  sharks, tarpons, and stingrays.    I was surprised that I was able to catch this shot of shark that swam over head.

Fish at bottom of aquarium

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is really unique and if you go be prepared to spend a couple of hours.  The aquarium is open 365 days a year.  (You can click here for hours.)


I snapped this shot of a stingray when it swam by us.  I love the look on its face. When we finished exploring the aquarium, we went to check out a couple of the other Ripley’s attractions.

Ripley’s Odditorium

To get to the Odditorium, we had to walk a couple of blocks up the strip and cross the street.  At the entrance we were greeted with life-sized statue of The Lizardman.  There was also this cool automaton:

Ripley's Odditorium

Once inside, we were able to explore some of the unique oddities that Robert Ripley was able to collect.  Those of us who were around before personal computer may recall the television show Ripley’s Believe It or Not! that aired in the ’80’s.  Visiting the Odditorium is sure to evoke memories of the show and the annuals showcasing the not-so-ordinary from around the world.

Two Headed Calf

The photo below is of a concealed gun in a pegleg.  I wonder who it belonged to – a man or a woman….

Pegleg Gun

Some of the other items that I found interesting were an antique chastity belt, a tramp chair, and an Ekoi human skin mask.  There was a trunk that people are allowed to open.  There was no description of what was in the box.  When opened, it would make a really loud sound.  We encouraged another visitor to open it and he jumped and we laughed.  The guy was such a good sport.

The spinning tunnel at the Odditorium really got me.  It is just a walkway that appears to be inside a tunnel.  Special effects created with the usage of mirrors makes it seem like the walkway is spinning.  Regardless of what I know about it, I got dizzy.  Every time I went through it.  And we went through there a lot.  (Am I a glutton for punishment, or what?!)

We enjoyed our time at the Odditorium and had one more Ripley’s attraction to visit.

Ripley’s Moving Theater

About one block up from the Odditorium is Ripley’s Moving Theater.

Ripley's 5-D

Have you ever experienced a film in 5D?  We hadn’t.  It was pretty neat.  I found this clip on YouTube to give you an idea of what it was like:

We watched Winter Wipeout The Ride, which reminded me of a cross between a Wii game and a Pixar movie, and Rats Race Xtreme.  During Winter Wipeout, it snowed on us inside the theater.  In June.  It’s a great way to beat the heat of summer.

5D posters

The line was pretty short and the attraction lasted less than 30 minutes.  I thought it was pretty fun.

We walked past another of the Ripley’s attractions in Gatlinburg – Ripley’s Haunted Adventure.
Ghostly exhibit in Gatlinburg

Tickets can be purchased either online or on site.  A combo ticket to see Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, Ripley’s Odditorium, and Ripley’s Moving Theater is $39.97.  There are 8 attractions in the Smokies that you can pick from:  Aquarium of the Smokies, Ripley’s Odditorium, Haunted Adventure, Mirror Maze, Moving Theater, Old Mac Mini Golf, Davy Crockett Mini Golf, and Guiness World Records.

Click here to see more of my pictures of Ripley’s Aquarium and the Odditorium.  I was provided with tickets to the Ripley’s attractions, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can connect with Ripley’s via their website | Facebook | and Twitter.

Have you visited any of the Ripley’s attractions in Gatlinburg?

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Friday 11th of July 2014

Okay. When are you going to teach me how to make your YouTube videos show up as a picture? I only know how to link to YouTube with my video. These pics are SO fun!


Wednesday 9th of July 2014

Makes me want to go to the Smokies!


Thursday 10th of July 2014

You should go. The Aquarium is REALLY neat and a great place to visit. If you go, try to stay in Gatlinburg on or near the strip.