Park Briefs — Fall 2019


On the Cutting Edge in Gatlinburg

Adventure Park Insider’s sister publication SAM (Ski Area Management) held its Summer Ops Camp in the aerial adventure hotbed of Gatlinburg, Tenn., Sept. 3-5. Campers experienced several cutting-edge attractions. Among them: Walltopia’s Rollglider at Rowdy Bear Mountain Adventure Park was most everyone’s first experience riding a curved rail zip ride. The world’s first Switchback rail-to-cable zip line rollercoaster ride at Lumberjack Feud—the product of a collaboration between CLIMB Works and Holmes Solutions—was a favorite. As was the new SkyBridge at Gatlinburg SkyPark, said to be the world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge. Plus, a variety of mountain coasters from ADG, Wiegand, and Brandauer by Sunkid showed what’s possible with those types of rides. Other technological advances, such as the new video tech from Revl, rounded out the experience.

Nick Thompson of CLIMB Works hosted Summer Ops Camp attendees at Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud, home to the new Switchback rail-to-cable rollercoaster ride, as well as an aerial adventure park and pro lumberjack show. Left to right: Erik Marter, Synergo; Cameron Annas, Granite Insurance; Nick Thompson, CLIMB Works.


Summer Ops Camp attendees checked out Anakeesta’s Treehouse Village Playground built by Beanstalk Builders. Left to right: Sharon Walsh and Olivia Rowan, Adventure Park Insider; Isaac Hoff, Beanstalk Builders; and Erik Marter, Synergo.


ERi’s new 680-foot-long pedestrian suspension bridge at Gatlinburg SkyPark was a crowd pleaser. Pictured here are Bahman Azarm of Outdoor Ventures and Mandy Stewart of ERi.


Attendees demoed a new video system from Revl at Rowdy Bear Mountain Adventure Park. We mounted compact wireless cameras on the Wiegand coaster, and after the ride, the cameras plugged into a small hub that automatically edited the video and emailed it to the participant in a matter of minutes.


The Holmes Solutions and CLIMB Works Switchback rail-to-cable ride system integrates curved rails and straight zip lines into a continuous ride, opening up a whole new world of installation possibilities for aerial attractions.



The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Expo takes place Nov. 18-22 in Orlando, Fla., and includes a significant representation from the aerial adventure industry. This presence is part of the more than 1,000 exhibiting companies and 38,000 attendees from more than 100 countries who make IAAPA the five-day epicenter of the outdoor entertainment and activities world. The Expo helps aerial park operators understand how and where they fit in the big picture.

IAAPA educational sessions cover a wide range of topics, from marketing, public relations and communications to information technology, food and beverage, and human resources. These, along with a range of special events, can provide an opportunity to share best practices, explore trends, and network with others in the amusement park and attractions world.

For additional information, visit


AOA Conference

The America Outdoors Association annual conference is set for Dec. 9-12, 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah. This year’s event focuses on connecting the outdoor industry and helping those operating in the outdoor arena tackle marketing, risk management, business operations, and leadership challenges.

The event offers three days of educational sessions that cover topics ranging from Google Analytics to Adaptive Recreation. “Media Meetups” provide operators an opportunity to speak one-on-one with key outdoor media members, to connect and pitch story ideas related to their outdoor business. Opportunities to network with other attendees and suppliers abound.

For more information and to register, visit


PRCA Conference

The 17th Annual Professional Ropes Course Association Conference will take place March 5-8, 2020, at the Holiday Inn Tampa Westshore in Tampa, Fla. The annual conference includes the organization’s annual public board meeting and public membership meeting followed by opportunities to meet and network with the board and other association members. A PRCA Qualified Instructor Certification training will be held concurrently with the conference, in addition to a variety of workshops. Previous topics have included Insurance 101; 4:1 Rescue Systems; Top 10 Group Initiatives, and more.

Members and non-members are invited to attend the conference. Special hotel rates are available for attendees. For more information on the conference and certification workshops, visit


ACCT Conference

The 30th annual International Association for Challenge Course Technology Conference and Expo takes place Feb. 6-9, 2020, at the Raleigh Convention Center in Raleigh, N.C. The conference serves up a mix of workshops, certification courses, trade show, and networking opportunities for the aerial adventure industry.

Six pre-conference training and certification courses Feb. 4-5 include In-House Inspector Certification; PPE Competent Person; ACCT Inspection Certification; Professional Inspector’s Forum, and more.

The conference officially opens on Thursday, Feb. 6 with the Opening Ceremony and Tech Talk Series. The speakers and topics for this year’s Tech Talks are:

•Chris Schuhmann, Dawson School in Colorado, “Adventure Psychology, A Paradigm for Growth”

• Jeremie Bacon, The Forge Adventure Parks and Imagineer Technology Group, “Augmenting Customer Experience with Mixed Reality”

• Rachel Maestri-Hailey, Zoar Outdoors, “Diversity in the Outdoor Industry: Not just black and white”

• Sarah Borodaeff, Adventure Park Insider, “Key Insights into Industry Data”

Each Tech Talk speaker will also present a 90-minute workshop on the same topic as part of the more than 120 general conference sessions taking place during the event. Workshops comprise five conference tracks: Facilitation and Programming; Industry and Business; Operations and Management; Technical Topics; and Product Demonstrations. Attendees looking to earn continuing education credits at the conference should review the workshop schedule ahead of time.

For more information and to register, visit


ACCT Publishes Revised ANSI/ACCT Standards

On Sept. 13, the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT) published the ANSI/ACCT 03-2019 Challenge Course and Canopy/Zip Line Tours Standards (revision of ANSI/ACCT 03-2016). As of that date, 03-2019 became the official standard for ACCT, and the organization is encouraging builders, inspectors, operators, and regulators to adopt this new benchmark.

Revised Operations Section

The ANSI/ACCT Standards address the design, installation, and performance of challenge courses, zip lines, and adventure parks, along with operations and staff training. ACCT policy director Scott Andrews told Adventure Park Insider that the 2019 edition incorporates significant changes to the operations section, making it more site-specific. Depending on whether an operation is guided, non-guided, or facilitated, certain requirements apply. The standard is more specific about the relationship between staff and the equipment, too, he adds.

The new standards also represent “a significant revision in the minimum required practices,” Andrews says, and “for some, it may be challenging to meet all of the minimums.” But by clarifying many of the requirements, the new standard makes it easier to discern what is required for individual sites.

For all that, “The standard may not change what people do, but how they talk about it and document it,” Andrews says. That’s because the documentation “has to be more specific to your equipment and safety equipment” and to whether the activity is guided, self-guided, or facilitated, he notes. In short: documents must detail how the pieces work together.

On the plus side, Andrews adds, the new requirements demonstrate that the industry is committed to keeping guest injuries to the lowest level possible.

Learn All About It

Industry members can purchase print and/or digital versions of the new standards through the ACCT website at or by calling the office at (303) 827-2432. ACCT members receive a complimentary digital edition, and a discounted member price on print editions.

To help industry members get up to speed on the changes in the standards, ACCT Academy—a new online learning center that, at press time, was set to launch in early October—will present a roughly 30-minute webinar on the standards, aimed primarily at operators.

For additional info, contact ACCT policy director Scott Andrews at [email protected].  —Rick Kahl


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