Sometimes, trees are not required for a successful aerial park. Take Franklin, Tennessee-based SOAR Adventure Tower, which opened last August. SOAR’s 110 elements are housed entirely within a 10,000 square foot structure built out of galvanized steel. At 50 feet tall, it offers four levels of self-contained play for all ages and abilities.
The SOAR Adventure Tower is a modular unit made by KristallTurm. It’s KristallTurm’s first “full” U.S.-based tower, according to Kevin Vanderkolk, who owns and operates the park as a family business along with his wife Colleen, and brothers-in-law Bill and Eric Barth.
None of SOAR’s owners had prior experience with aerial parks or the outdoor industry. In fact, Kevin is a professional gymnast who most recently spent 15 years as the mascot “Bango” for the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks. The role required about 400 community appearances a year in addition to traveling the world as part of an acrobatic stunt team. Loving his job, but tired of the grueling schedule, Vanderkolk decided to look for something new.
“When I decided to retire, I wanted to do something that was fun for my family and kids,” says Vanderkolk. “I started looking at family entertainment centers and thought I’d go into the trampoline park industry. Then I realized there’s already a tramp park on every corner. More importantly, it’s not as engaging for parents.”
The family-activity component was vital for Vanderkolk. A family man himself—he and Colleen have five kids—he recognized that many families like theirs want options to recreate together.
When Vanderkolk headed to the IAAPA expo in 2014 looking for something engaging, he came across KristallTurm’s product and “fell in love with it.”
“The product caters to a large demographic. It physically challenges me as a thrill seeker, but I can also bring my ten-year-old and have just as much fun,” says Vanderkolk. “A lot of courses aren’t like that. This product allowed the entire family to come and enjoy the park together.”
After touring three KristallTurm parks in Germany, Vanderkolk returned, found a 7.5-acre property in Tennessee for the park, moved his family from Wisconsin, and moved forward. SOAR celebrated its grand opening on August 15.