Tag Archives: gatlinburg

Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze

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My husband and I wanted to window shop and visit some of the different stores in Downtown Gatlinburg, but we knew to do that with our kids, it would be best to break it up a bit with fun activities for them.

The first activity we chose was Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze.

We did receive complimentary admission to this attraction in exchange for a review, but all opinions are mine.

I had never experienced a mirror maze before this, so I wasn’t sure what to expect but hoped the kids would enjoy it. That they did! Lots of mirrors, LED lights, and fun music! One kiddo was not so sure about walking into the Infinity Room which features mirrors on the floor, but once we assured him he wasn’t going to fall through, he was good! Then a mini dance party ensued, and his daddy had us all laughing. 😀

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Overall, I wasn’t super impressed, but I wasn’t terribly disappointed either. Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze is a small attraction, but my kids had fun, and that was the whole reason we went into the maze in the first place.

My only regret with the Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze, is that I let my husband lead us through it. You see, he has a really crazy accurate sense of direction. For example, he drove from a small town in West Virginia that he’d never been in before renting his car there that morning, to our house in Arkansas, in less than 12 hours, taking a different route than the one he took to get to WV – no wrong turns, no GPS, and no map. Yeah. I’ve also seen him drive a Jeep into the woods on one side of a park he’s never been to, drive through the woods to the other side, and then take us straight back to the campsite where we started as if he lived there. Needless to say, a mirror maze is not exactly a challenge for him. He pretty much led us straight from the entrance to the exit. Party pooper, that’s what he is. However, had I been leading, we probably would have been lost in there for for a while. The dead ends and rotating mirrors definitely had me confused. And if I’m going to be totally honest, the rotating mirrors freaked me out a little because well, have you ever taken five kids 6 and under in a mirror maze? Haha! I felt like I was herding cats through there. And two of them were being carried! It was entertaining for sure! I’m betting the other families we ran into inside the maze got a good laugh out of watching us!

This is a smaller mirror maze, and to me that made it more suitable for my smaller kids. It’s certainly not a big attraction (the “marvelous” in the title may be a bit of a stretch 🙂 ), but it was a good place to take a break and have a few minutes of good, clean, family fun before supper.

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Though I don’t feel it’s worth the single ticket prices (Adults: $9.99 at the door or $8.99 online, Kids: $7.99), it could be worth including it in one of Ripley’s multi-attraction combo passes.

Located at:
623 Parkway

Gatlinburg, TN

OPEN 365 DAYS A YEAR
Sunday – Thursday 10:00am – 11:00pm
Friday & Saturday 10:00am – 12:00am

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Filed under entertainment, Experience Review, out and about, Reviews, travel

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies


Last month our family was blessed with a much-needed break from the real world as we traveled to Gatlinburg, TN for a week of family time and relaxation. It was wonderful. We truly didn’t want to leave.

While we were in Gatlinburg, we got the chance to visit Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, which happens to be right in the midst of Downtown Gatlinburg.
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We received complimentary admission in exchange of this review. However, all thoughts and opinions are mine.

Sidenote: Having never visited Gatlinburg before, I was surprised at how many shops and businesses were packed into one street. I’m not sure what I was expecting – maybe a bit more spread out across town like Branson, MO? Anyway, it was really cool to see a large Aquarium sticking up in the middle of all that!

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We were a bit worried about parking at first. There is ample parking spaces, but there’s no way our big van would fit in the parking garage. There’s a large parking lot just down the street though, so it wasn’t a big deal at all.

Anywho, back to our trip to the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies!
Lots of oceanlife, hands on learning areas, 2 play areas, a snackbar/restaurant, a Pearl Harbor exhibit, and more! Yes, you can see all that in one building, in Gatlinburg, TN. Yes, sharks and penguins in the mountains!

The main level exhibits start just a few feet from the front door, and they did not disappoint! Beautiful, exotic fish and amphibians, a waterfall, many types of jellyfish, seahorses, crabs, and other sea life. I really enjoyed moving from display to display as my boys told me things they already knew about many of the species and my oldest read some of the information provided about others we weren’t familiar with.
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I could have watched the jellyfish for hours. They are just amazing creatures – as long as they are in an aquarium that is. 😀

There are so many fun and interesting things to see an do at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, you will have to check it out for yourself. I’m certain with 5 kids in tow I missed some things. However, one exhibit I found to be very unique was the aquarium filtration and monitoring systems are visible to guests and explained through fun, interactive displays!

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The most impressive feature of Ripley’s Aquarium for our family is the Shark Lagoon exhibit. With a moving sidewalk, you can ride through the 340 feet long tunnel as sharks, giant stingrays, sawfish, tarpon, and other sea life swim around and above you. (Our crew had to go through multiple times.) We happened to reach this area just in time for the sharks’ lunchtime! That was awesome. My boys are still talking about it.

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Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies has two playground structures for the kids to climb and slide to their hearts’ content while parents can sit on benches nearby and rest their feet, feed babies, etc. Much to this mama-of-five’s joy, the two structures, which are beside one another, have entrances on separate levels of the building and are NOT connected. So don’t worry – your little one can’t enter on the ground level and escape on the second level. 😀 My kids had a great time playing though.

Throughout the aquarium, I was very impressed by the hands-on and interactivity elements of so many exhibits. From touching crabs, rays, and jellyfish, to being under and inside tanks and exhibits, my children loved every minute of the experience and learned a lot.

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The newest exhibit at Ripley’s Aquarium is the Pearl Harbor Exhibit, a one of a kind exhibit, combining both history and aquatic life!

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Again, more interactivity! I was pleasantly surprised at how much my boys really enjoyed the Pearl Harbor exhibit – playing, reading, learning, observing, and asking questions! The Pearl Harbor exhibit is brand new this year, and just like Ripley’s Aquarium’s other exhibits, this one has something for everyone. Visitors of all ages were enjoying it the day we were there.

As a homeschool family, I was also excited to learn that Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies offers special programs for homeschool students! Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to attend one on this trip, but if you would like to learn more, they have information on their web site HERE. They also offer several other unique experiences for all visitors. (Swimming with a stingray, anyone?)

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Overall, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies was one of the highlights of our vacation. I’m really glad we chose to visit at the beginning of the week, when our little kids were more well-rested and could enjoy the experience as much as the big kids. Definitely plan to spend at least 2-3 hours on your visit and have exhausted kiddos when you leave! We had a blast splash!

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To order tickets or for more info:
https://www.ripleyaquariums.com/gatlinburg

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is located at:
88 River Rd, Gatlinburg,TN 37738

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is open 365 days a year, but hours of operation vary by season. That info can be found HERE.

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Filed under entertainment, Experience Review, field trip, out and about, Reviews, travel