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Feature Article - April 2018

Adventure Awaits!

Adding Climbing Walls, Challenge Courses, Zip Lines and Other Exciting Options

By Dave Ramont


Zip Lines & Other Thrills

Zip lines seem to be ubiquitous these days. "The zip line is another fantastic offering because it allows people to experience soaring above the ground in places that could never be done before, like inside furniture stores!" Gunthorp said.

Hornick agreed: "Zip lines are going everywhere. We've added them to kids play places, gymnastic centers and parks. Many people open them as standalone businesses."

Climbing is absolutely possible for people who have challenges of all kinds. Take time to learn how to work with folks who might be missing a limb, are blind, working through the challenges of autism, or many other situations that just need a little adaptation.

Zip lines feature different braking and cable systems, which can determine speed and number of staff necessary. They can accommodate single or double passengers, in a vertical or horizontal position, and some mimic the twists, turns and dips of rollercoasters.

What about ecological concerns, when placing adventure elements among trees and pristine areas? "When building outdoors, there are many things we do to reduce the environmental impact to land and trees," Hornick said. "These include construction methods, site prep and material selection."

Different adventure attractions often complement each other, generating additional revenue. Gunthorp said that last year, 44 percent of the clients who purchased ropes courses also went with a zip line for added excitement. The seamless integration is possible because they're engineered alongside each other. "No additional safety equipment has to be purchased, and they require much less staff than the typical cable zip line demands," she said. The human mazes they offer work well underneath their ropes courses, and the ropes courses utilize the same safety equipment as their climbing panels, offering more elements to climb and explore.

Gunthorp said thrill-seekers love their free-fall component, and it's a fantastic revenue generator. "We generally suggest to our clients to offer the free-fall as an alternative exit to the ropes course experience and upcharge those tickets by $5 to $8."

She also said that souvenir photo systems can be good revenue generators, especially with clients in the cruise ship industry who often position the camera above the Walk the Plank adventure element. "People want to capture their experiences anywhere they go. As with any technology, it can become outdated quickly, so we're always looking for the latest and greatest in not only photography, but video and augmented reality as well."

As these adventure amenities gain popularity, Frain points out one more important factor for attracting visitors: promote inclusion. "Climbing is absolutely possible for people who have challenges of all kinds. Take time to learn how to work with folks who might be missing a limb, are blind, working through the challenges of autism, or many other situations that just need a little adaptation," she said. "This opens climbing and other adventure activities to people who might otherwise be overlooked."

Frain mentioned Paradox Sports as one organization specializing in teaching how to facilitate adaptive climbing.

While Avery thinks the increasing popularity of adventure amenities is great for the industry, he also feels that getting people out and active is an important mission all-around. "To step away from our ever-increasing virtual world of being constantly harassed by media, marketing and our virtual-handcuffed selves to step into an accessible adventure which allows us to be actively engaged in our experience. Stepping beyond our comfort zones allows us to stretch the limits of what we thought we were able to do or be—physically and mentally—promoting personal growth."

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