GATLINBURG, Tenn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--After a closure to battle the wildfire, the city of Gatlinburg will open early Friday morning, and Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies will be one of the first places open for business.
"It's the Aquarium you all know and love. Everything here is fine, and we are even decorated and ready for Christmas," said Ryan DeSear, General Manager of Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.
The Aquarium and surrounding businesses are eager for guests to start visiting, including the other Ripley’s Attractions: Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium, Ripley’s 5D Moving Theater, Ripley’s Haunted Adventure, Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze, Guinness World Records Attraction, Ripley’s Davy Crockett Mini-Golf, and Ripley’s Old MacDonald’s Farm Mini-Golf.
"If you came right now to downtown Gatlinburg, you wouldn’t know that anything happened. You can walk up and down the streets, and all your favorite places are still here and ready for business," DeSear said.
The Aquarium is considered by many to be the heart of the community. They have been feeding 200-300 people a day: emergency responders, personnel, state police, and firefighters. It was important for the Aquarium to use their resources to help the recovery efforts. DeSear also remarked on how fast the community banded together to help clean up and support the town.
The outpouring of support from around the world was overwhelming, and many people have asked how they can help.
"We need you to come back and show your love of Gatlinburg and be a visitor again. It's important for the people who live in this community to get everyone back to work. It gives them a sense of normalcy and pride in what they do," DeSear said.
For images from Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, visit this Dropbox.
About Ripley Entertainment
Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies is part of the Ripley Entertainment Inc. (www.ripleys.com) family of worldwide attractions, the global leader in location-based entertainment. More than 14 million people visit its 95-plus attractions in 12 countries each year. In addition to its 32 Believe It or Not! Odditoriums, the Orlando, Florida-based company has publishing, licensing and broadcast divisions that oversee projects including the syndicated Believe It or Not! television show, best-selling books and the popular syndicated cartoon strip, Ripley's Believe It or Not!, that still runs daily in many countries around the world. Ripley Entertainment is a Jim Pattison Company, the second-largest privately held company in Canada.