Park Spy- Spring/Summer 2018


The Question:

“My group and I would like to come to your park. Our religion dictates that we wear modest dress and therefore we wear long skirts and I am wondering if that is something you can accommodate.”

There are sects of every major religion on the planet that require various levels of modest dress. The safety equipment necessary for zip line and aerial adventure parks can pose challenges with certain dress codes, so we wanted to find out how prepared operators were to handle those challenges.

Have a question we should ask for Park Spy? Send Sarah Borodaeff ([email protected]) your question and, if we use it, you’re immune for one issue! We present seven of the Spy missions here. See them all online at

Park #1, AZ

First contact: Female.
Staff: Thank you for calling. May I put you on hold?
API: Of course.
(approximately two minutes later)
Staff: Thank you for holding, how may I help you?
API: Stated question.
Staff: We do ask participants to wear a full body harness, so we would ask that you wear a pant or a legging underneath that. I’m not 100 percent sure, but we might even be able to have an instructor show you how to put the harness on and then let you get geared up in a private space. You would put the harness on over your leggings and then put the skirt over the harness. I would recommend wearing a skirt that has a bit of stretch, if possible, because the harness does add a bit of girth to your waist, but that’s probably better than it bunching up underneath the harness. We’ll also need to make sure that whatever skirt you wear can be worn just below the belt line of the harness so we can see the attachment points, they are kinda like wearing a pair of shorts if you know what I mean.
API: Great, I will talk to my group and we’ll decide what we want to do.
Staff: Great, if you’d like to make a reservation you can either call us back or visit us online and there is a live calendar on there that shows our availability.
API: Thank you so much.
Staff: You bet.

Score: 8
Comment: She was incredibly friendly, I could almost hear her smile through the phone, and gave some good info. However, you should be completely certain about what accommodations you offer before offering them.

Park #2, NC

First contact: Female.
API: Stated question.
Staff: Usually with that situation what we try to do is ask you to wear pants or leggings underneath, and then we can bring you into a small private room where we can help you put your harness on. I’ll be honest, it’s not going to be super comfortable wearing a skirt like that with our harnesses, but it is doable.
API: Is there anything we can do to make it more comfortable?
Staff: Unfortunately, the only thing would be just not wearing the skirt at all, but I understand that that’s not really an option and, as I said, we’ve certainly had this situation before. Though what might be another option is our adventure park as opposed to the zip line tour. The adventure park has a more adjustable harness, so that might be an option for you as well.
API: Great, I will talk to our group and see if that is something they would prefer to do instead.
Staff: Fantastic.
API: Thank you so much.
Staff: Absolutely. Have a great day.

Score: 7
Comment: If you know abandoning my dress isn’t an option, why even suggest it? I give her credit, though, for offering the adventure park as an alternative activity.

Park #3, TN

First contact: Male.
API: Stated question.
Staff: We can certainly accommodate that for you. I know we have brought several groups through our course with the same dress code without any issue, though I am struggling to remember exactly how we did it at this moment (laughs), so sorry about that.
API: That’s OK.
Staff: What I can do is take your number down and once the guides that have worked with this situation before are in tomorrow, I can chat with them and call you back.
API: Not to worry, I can give you a call back tomorrow.
Staff: Certainly. We’re open X to X tomorrow and I will be sure to chat with them first thing so I have that answer for you. As I said, I know we can accommodate your group, I just can’t recall the exact logistics off the top of my head.
API: Great, I will give a call back tomorrow.

Note: I did actually call back the following day and the particular person was not available at that particular time. They offered to have him call me back directly, which I declined.

Score: 7
Comment: Even though I never got a clear answer, he was friendly and was clear that they can accommodate us, and offered to find out the details and call back. The person I spoke to the following day was equally as friendly and eager to get me the information.

Park #4, UT

First contact: Female.
API: Stated question.
Staff: (bored tone) Unfortunately, that is not something we are able to accommodate, as it’s a safety concern. The harness has leg loops, like shorts, and causes the skirt to ride up and bunch up underneath, which makes it so the harness does not fit properly.
API: OK, thank you. What about wearing the skirt over the harness?
Staff: While that is certainly an idea, I’m not sure we can accommodate that. We really cannot have the skirt flapping around while you are zipping in case it got caught in anything or impaired your vision.
API: I understand. Thank you so much.
Staff: Sorry about that, but have a great day.

Score: 5
Comment: Somehow, I felt like she gets this question a lot. It was like listening to someone reading a script. Scripting a few answers to FAQs as part of your training program is a good idea, but that doesn’t mean it should sound like they’re literally reading off a page. Points because whoever did write that answer was clear about the safety concerns involved in my request.

Park #5, CO

First contact: Female.
API: Stated question.
Staff: I’m sorry, I’m not understanding the question?
API: Can we wear long skirts with the safety equipment required to zip line?
Staff: You know, I am not sure, because the harness has two leg loops that need to be worn, it’s not like you can just zip without the harness.
API: Oh, of course not, just wondering if we can do something like wear the harness under our skirts.
Staff: Ummm, I would have to check with my manager. Can you hold please?
API: Sure.
(brief hold…)
Staff: OK, so while we couldn’t allow you to wear your skirt over the harness—the guides need to be able to visually assess the harness periodically as well as access some of the clips and gear loops—you could wear the skirt under the harness, and apparently we have had groups wear stretchy skirts over leggings and pull them down in such a way that they kind of look like harem pants, if that’s something you’re comfortable with.
API: I will talk It over with my group and give you a call back.
Staff: Great! Hope to see you here soon.

Score: 5
Comment: Once she checked with the manager she was clear and provided examples of how they have accommodated similar dress codes in the past. But find a less condescending way to remind people they can’t fly without the use of safety equipment.

Park #6, CA

First contact: Automated machine, chose operator.
Answering phone: Female.
API: Stated question.
Staff: Are you looking to make a reservation?
API: No, just trying to find more information to make sure it is something you can accommodate.
Staff: You know, I am not sure, let me check with my supervisor, please hold.
Staff: OK, she is unsure as well, so we’ll have to take your number down and have the guides call you back. We just take the reservations, they do the actual zip lining, so I don’t know too much about it. But, you see, you are sort of hanging and you are at a height and you kinda ride and I am not sure how a skirt would work with that.
API: That’s OK, I will call back later.
Staff: OK, sounds like a plan.

Score: 1
Comment: This place must not read Park Spy. Once again: whoever is answering your phones needs to at least understand the basics of how your course works.

Park #7, NH

First contact: Female.
API: Stated question.
Staff: Sure thing. We would just ask that you wear leggings or pants under your skirt, that will make it more comfortable for you. Then you can put your skirt on over your harness. The one thing is that we do have to have a guide check your harness both when you get geared up and when you arrive at the zip location since our welcome center is in a different spot and we shuttle you over to the zip. The other thing to be aware of is that we don’t have a private gear-up area. If you are comfortable with those two things then we would be happy to accommodate you.
API: I will have to talk to my group. Would it be possible to get female guides to do the checks?
Staff: We do have female guides on staff and we’d certainly do our best to accommodate you, though I wouldn’t be able to guarantee their availability until we talked about dates. Did you have a date in mind?
API: We have a couple dates we’re looking at. I’m just waiting on final schedule confirmations from my group and then we’ll be able to say more concretely what day we’re looking at.
Staff: Great, well then just give us a call back when you’re ready. I would say call instead of making your reservation online so that we can look into getting you a female guide for gear checks.
API: Great, thank you.
Staff: Sure thing, hope to see you soon.

Score: 10
Comment: Right out of the gate she was friendly and her tone, which is certainly hard to convey here, was excited to meet the challenge. She very clearly explained what accommodations could and couldn’t be made, and offered opportunities to make my group feel as comfortable as possible.
Identity Revealed: Alpine Adventures, N.H.

Park #8: OR

First Contact: Female.
API: Stated question.
Staff: Ummmm, sure, I mean, yes, we could do that, but it won’t be comfortable. See, the harness has a waist belt and leg loops that get tightened around your umm, upper legs, and so the skirt would ride up and get bunched up. It would also show your legs, which I suspect, kinda voids the point of wearing the skirt in the first place.
API: What about wearing the skirt over the harness?
Staff: Hmmmm, I don’t know about that, ummmm… (silence…)
API: Ok, is there anyone else I can ask?
Staff: Not really, it’s just me today since we’re on a reduced schedule until Memorial Day.
API: OK, thank you anyway. I will talk to my group and we’ll go from there.
Staff: Sorry we couldn’t accommodate your group. Good luck and I hope you find something fun to do while you’re in the area!

Score: 2
Comment: First she says they can accommodate us but it wouldn’t be ideal, and then ends by apologizing that they can’t? Seems like she just didn’t want to deal with it.


We had a wide range of responses to this question—a few great answers, a few not-so-great ones, and plenty in between.

Every major religion has sects that require some dress code, be it modest dress, head coverings—you name it. And there are plenty of folks out there who have strong personal dress codes that may not have a religious foundation. Sit down with your management team and your legal counsel and decide what you can and cannot safely accommodate.

Once you have done that, gather your entire team, especially anyone who answers your phones, and have a frank discussion about those accommodations. If there is something you cannot reasonably accommodate, explain the safety reasons behind it. Make sure that your entire staff understands why, and can clearly communicate those reasons to guests who may be impacted.


About Author

Sarah Borodaeff is the former research editor for Adventure Park Insider magazine and current freelance contributor. A professional ski bum and former zip guide, Sarah enjoys any excuse to talk about outdoor adventures.

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