The opening marks Ripley’s second foray into the aquarium field. The company’s first aquarium opened 3 and a half years ago in Myrtle Beach and has become South Carolina’s most visited attraction, according to Bob Masterson, Ripley’s President. “I think we do a better job at building aquariums than anybody,” he continued. “You get more value per square foot, or per gallon of water-whichever way you want to look at it,” Masterson said Ripley’s officials are dedicated to providing the highest quality of care for the sea creatures. “We do everything we can to care for and feed the animals properly,” he said. “We also help in the effort to save the green sea turtles we have here,” he said. “We are very sensitive to environmental issues.”
Masterson said he expects the aquarium to attract about 1.5 million visitors annually and possibly more. “We should do great here.”
The aquarium is only the latest in a series of significant investments by Ripley Entertainment in Gatlinburg. “Ripley’s has more invested in Gatlinburg than in any other city”, said Steve Ellis, Ripley’s marketing consultant, estimating its total investment at up to $60 million.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum has been a part of the city’s scene for 30 years. Other properties are Ripley’s Moving Theater and Ripley’s Haunted Adventure.