Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies Review

I want to take you on a creation adventure. This adventure takes us to The Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, TN. I have been to this place several times. It has been a long while since I visited this attraction. I visited them on June 20, 2014. Gatlinburg is about an hour or so from my apartment in Jefferson City. I go the back roads to avoid the heavy tourist traffic.  As we enter the Aquarium, a couple behind us states, wow it does smell like an aquarium in here. I don’t think I ever thought about the scene of smell before in my past visits.  Since that person brought it up, I could smell it. Not only can you smell, touch and see, but I am sure if you listen close enough you can hear too. All 5 of the senses used.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies Review

Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

Taken from the Ripley’s Aquarium web site about the Smokies location.

Our 10,000 exotic sea creatures comprise more than 350 individual species. There are more fish in this aquarium than there are people living in the entire town of Gatlinburg, TN.

We arrived later in the afternoon, it was busy. I recommend going when they first open. Just like any other attraction. But, we couldn’t be there when they opened.  One interesting fact about them is they share with you the water process. How much water they use, how they filter it, and everything else you want to know about their process. They show you in an exhibit. While we were down in the tunnels, you can see sharks swimming above us. Another couple that was along our journey, pointed out, “Look at their teeth!”. Talking about a great white shark. Speaking of sharks a dad on the path, was pointing out to his family a sign on the glass that showed shark attacks. If you look at some of the glass you will noticed scratches on it. They say there are from the sharks. A quote on a wall inside the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is from Jules Verne as spoken by Captain Nemo. 

” The sea is a vast reservoir of nature. It was through the see that the Earth, so to speak, began …”

As we know the Bible shares the creation story in the book of Genesis. It show the seas were created on the 5th day by God. Plus we also know that got flooded the earth. So the earth was covered in water at one particular time. When you see that quotes you can talk about the creation and possibly the great flood. I believe the kids will love the activities center. It is full of stuff you can do. You can pet sting rays and horse shoe crabs and much more. It is wide open area for your children to play in and have fun.

Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies Steve Gives Penguins a Thumbs U
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies Steve Gives Penguins a Thumbs Up

One exhibit that I enjoyed was the Penguin. You can add on to your ticket for a Penguin encounter. I can see in the window of the room they had a Penguin inside and he was painting with his webbed feet. I liked the Penguin exhibit, because you can go outside and see them too. There is a tunnel you can go through and pop your head out and it looks like you are in the center of the Penguin domain. Just recently had baby Penguin born too. Derby and Butch. If you plan the timing right you can watch the Penguin being fed. The Ripley’s of Aquarium also offers home school visits and even special events for Scouting. They can help offer some of the requirements needed for the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts. There is even an overnight adventure of sleeping with the sharks. You can count sharks in the tunnel as you drift off to sleep. Plus live shows including scuba divers.

Like slime? Check out the current special exhibit of slime. These creatures give off slime or feel slimy. In the slime exhibit you can touch a jelly fish. It is a Moon Jelly. A little girl about 9 years old touched one and said “It feels weird”. I asked her what it felt like she just said weird. I got to touch it. It felt squishy. The worker operating the jelly fish area said that most humans cannot feel this type of jelly fish if they stung them. But to use caution and not touch the bottoms of them. If you want, the Aquarium offers a cafeteria for you to enjoy a meal. I haven’t ate here of all the times I have been to this attraction.

While I was peaking at the many items offered in the gift shop, I talked to a few people about their experience. Most peoples answers were short and brief that they enjoyed the visit like one family from Florida and another from Ohio. I saw a little girl about 3 years old or so enjoying this orange chair. She didn’t want to get up. My daughter and I spent about one and half hours here today. We have seen most of the things there. She has been here more times than I have. I think my last visit has been a few years or so. I am sure if you really took your time, you could spend all day there. Including eating at the cafeteria. If it’s a salt water, ocean, sea experience you are looking for, then I recommend The Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.

Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies - Activity Area
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies – Activity Area

The Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). I believe the Creation Story is a great story that can be told at this attraction to your children or even your youth group or the group you have with you. You can go to for story ideas and questions you may have. Enjoy your visit as you travel through different parts of the sea, even the coral reef. Maybe you can be cracked up by the clown fish or even get slimed by the slime exhibit. The Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies has something for everyone. The Ripley’s Aquarium has two other aquariums. One in South Carolina at Myrtle Beach and the other in Canada in Toronto, ON. Each location offering it’s own special exhibits and tours. The Canadian Aquarium opened in the Summer of 2013. The Creation story in in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. On the 5th Day He created the sea creatures and the fowls of the Earth, those that fly. The Seas are all the bodies of water. See Genesis 1:21-23. See my blog post God’s Creation, Ginormous Aquarium Style.

21 So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 So the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

I barely saw staff here. They only seemed to have them at special spots. I didn’t get to talk to much of any of the staff. The most of the staff was in the activity area and the gift shop. There hours vary based on the time of the year and such. So check with them for their current hours of operation. More information at and also If you go visit them, please be sure to tell them you heard about them from

Have you visited any of the Ripley’s Aquariums? If so share with me your experiences. Tell me which location you visited. Have a great Bible Story to share with at the Aquarium, share that too.

Special thanks to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies for comping me 2 tickets to do this review.

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About the Author

Author: Steve Patterson

A Christian Blogger that enjoys blogging about the Bible, Theology, God, Jesus Christ, Christian Music, Family, Cats, Odd Holidays, sewing and much more. I have been blogging since 2004, however, I have been blogging on Courageous Christian Father since 2012. I enjoy listening to Christian Music. I am married with 1 daughter, 2 step-sons and a step daughter.

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