Over the past several years, we have seen a memorable variety of elements in aerial adventure parks. Which got us thinking: what oddball and outlandish features have parks created to wow and challenge guests? We asked operators and builders to show and tell us about their coolest aerial adventure elements. Here’s a look at what we turned up.
FLYING DOLPHIN ZIP LINE
The Adventure Park at Virginia Beach Aquarium, Va.
Builder: Outdoor Ventures
The dolphin is iconic throughout Virginia Beach, home of The Adventure Park at Virginia Beach Aquarium, so naturally, it became the inspiration for the park’s popular Flying Dolphin Zip Line element. The Flying Dolphin never fails to bring a smile to guests’ faces, both young and old. Visitors to Virginia Beach can tell their friends at home, “Yup, I rode a dolphin.”
Mohican Adventures, Ohio
Builder: Challenge Design Innovations
The design team at CDI worked closely with river outfitter Mohican Adventures to create custom elements unique to the park’s environment. As a result, the Mohican Adventures course incorporates rafts, kayaks, and canoes as aerial obstacles. The Abandon Ship element has guests make their way across a bridge of suspended river rafts—which are all missing their floors.
Broadmoor Soaring Adventure, Colo.
Builder: Bonsai Design
The Broadmoor Soaring Adventure’s Fins Course came to life after Bonsai Design installed a suspension bridge across the steep, rock canyon terrain of Seven Falls. One of the greatest challenges was to install poles and platforms on the steep cliff faces connecting bridges and zip lines. The Fins course consists of these custom-built suspension bridges, zip lines through Seven Falls Canyon, and a 180-foot rappel to the canyon floor.
Ridgecrest Conference Center, N.C.
Builder: Signature Research
The DNA Bridge is designed to look like a single helix DNA strand. Guests must maneuver their way across the bridge, maintaining balance through the twist of the strand.
THE LOG ROLLER
Treetop Trekking, Ontario
The Log Roller, part of the extreme level course at Treetop Trekking’s Barrie, Ontario park, is a test for the most adventurous of guests. Participants must make their way across the log while it spins, testing participants’ balance and nerve.
Butter and Egg Adventures, Ala.
The bicycle element at Butter and Egg Adventures is one of the most unusual of the many features at the park. Guests hop on the bicycle at the start platform and pedal their way across a specially designed track. The bike is connected to the overhead cable by metal rods that are affixed to the wheel hubs for stability and a fun ride.
Epic Sky Trek Park, Colo.
This ninja-warrior inspired element is a mental game. Looking down through the gaps between beams to the ground below can be a scary challenge for some participants. In reality, the element is not physically strenuous; instead, it requires balance, rhythm, and most of all, commitment. At the outset, the element can look terrifying, but once you’ve made it to the other side, you realize that it’s much easier than it looks. A clever and ego-boosting feature.
Terrapin Adventures, Md.
Builder: Inner Quest
The Rainbow Serpent at Terrapin Adventures is as much a mental element as a physical one. Guests are belayed through the element as they dive headfirst down the rope tunnel, which expands and contracts as they make their way through to the ground below.
Trollhaugen Outdoor Recreation Area, Wis.
Builder: Absolutely Experiential/In-House
The Mix was a happy accident at Trollhaugen Outdoor Recreation Area. Originally designed as a zip line, builders realized that the original design would cause participants to come into the landing platform too fast. The solution was The Mix: a combination bridge and zip line element that tests guests’ balance as they make their way across the wobbly bridge before zipping across to the next platform.
TALLEY WINE BARREL BRIDGE
Vista Lago Adventure Park, Calif.
Builder: Absolutely Experiential
The Talley Wine Barrel Bridge is another clever example of incorporating a local element. Wine barrels donated by Talley Vineyards, a vineyard near the park, comprise the bridge. Participants must make their way across the barrels’ rounded surfaces to get to the next platform. We suggest guests navigate the course before sampling the vineyard’s wares.
Louisville MegaCavern, Ky.
MegaCavern is not lacking in uniqueness, considering that the entire course is underground. Even so, the Double-Basket Cross is especially noteworthy, as it is the only enclosed element on the course. Many of the obstacles at MegaCavern are free-hanging, wide open, and challenge strength and balance. The Double-Basket Cross constricts movement to a confined space, requiring participants to crawl on their hands and knees. It has been affectionately referred to as “The Panic Crate” because, rather than an obstacle for the body, it’s an obstacle for the mind.
Crocodile Crossing, Fla.
The zip lines at Crocodile Crossing at St. Augustine’s Alligator Farm Zoological Park certainly live up to their name. The Lagoon Zip, part of the Zoo’s Nile River course, zips guests directly over the Alligator Lagoon, home to 39 very large reptiles who hang out 60 feet below.
Rafting in the Smokies, Tenn.
Builder: Phoenix Experiential Design
Climbing walls may not be new, but this one has its own flair. The climbing wall at Rafting in the Smokies offers multiple routes and levels for beginners to more advanced climbers. Located next to the stairwell for the main zip line tower, it is a versatile addition to the 10-acre island.
Huimala FEC, Finland
Builder: Walltopia Adventure
The Rollglider is a rollercoaster zip line that combines the excitement of hang gliding and the thrill of flying. One of the most novel features is the superman harness that allows riders to fly down the course headfirst and give them the true hero experience.