Real Adventure Is Growing at IAAPA
The editors of Adventure Park Insider visited the 2015 International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Expo Nov. 17-20 in Orlando, Fla. Two key trends relevant to adventure park operators emerged: theming and zip coasters.
Everywhere we looked, vendors were selling the idea of an outdoor experience that offers immersive play. While amusement parks might have to fake that experience a bit, with faux wood surfaces and plastic trees, many adventure parks and zip tours can offer customers the real deal. What we can learn from amusement parks is how to tie it all into a themed experience that tells a story and makes an aerial adventure course or zip tour stand out from others.
A number of vendors are offering zip coasters—a type of zip line on a track, with all the curves and ups and downs of a gravity-fed roller coaster. We counted five suppliers, including Walltopia’s RollGlider and Zip-Flyer’s Zip-Coaster (see photos), plus Outdoor Ventures’ Fly-Line, Extreme Engineering’s Cloud Coaster, and Adventure Solutions’ AvatarOne. Some are freestanding; some are designed to soar through the trees. There are only a few zip coaster installations in North America at present, so it’s uncertain whether customers will embrace this new activity. But we tried a small demo at IAAPA, and enjoyed every second. We will report back after we try one out in the field.
An Adventure Park To Blossom in Branson
Plans for a new adventure park in the Ozarks entertainment haven known as Branson, Mo., are in the works. Mountain Adventure Resort will take advantage of an 80-acre plot located along highway 165 that has been empty for many years due to its 400-foot elevation change. Planned attractions include a zip coaster, zip lines, a ropes course, and a mountain coaster. The facility, pending final approvals, is scheduled to open in summer 2016.
Joel Hornickel, Branson planning and development director, says, “They’re really trying to embrace the extreme topography and all the wonderful vegetation on the property.” Hornickel expects the park to open the first season with one or two rides and then expand its options over the next three to five years.
In all this, Mountain Adventure Resort developers are capitalizing on a burgeoning experiential spirit in the Ozarks, building alongside other new attractions including Fritz’s Adventure, an indoor adventure park that has already broken ground in Branson, and Bigfoot, a 225-foot tower that is currently in planning stages.