The Adventure Park at the Discovery Museum

 

Anthony Wellman

     I could swear I hear chimps swinging through the trees all around me as I wander the grounds of The Adventure Park, the exciting new attraction at the Discovery Museum. I’m half expecting Tarzan to appear next, but alas, it’s only a pack of enthusiastic kids who have just discovered their latest passion—high-flying zip-line adventures among the trees.
     The five-acre “aerial forest ropes park” was inspired by the rope-climbing parks so popular now in Europe, according to Bahman Azarm, president of Southport-based Outdoor Venture Group, which built the park. He was sold on the concept after experiencing the fun firsthand on a trip to Switzerland, and has made it his mission to build parks all over the United States.The first went up at Catamount Ski Area in New York in 2009, and his next project was built the following year in Sandy Springs, Md.
     The Bridgeport park’s eight aerial trails, which range in level of difficulty from beginner to expert (for ages 7 to adult), challenge adventurers to climb ladders, cross bridges and glide through the air on zip lines. More than 110 wooden platforms are perched at varying heights among the trees. The “trails” are all connected by cables, wooden ladders and ropes—nothing is motorized. Not for the faint of heart (or the physically frail), this park will give climbers a good workout no matter which path they choose. The courses are self-guided so it’s up to each person to plan out his/her next move. “This is mentally and physically challenging,” says park manager Bea Mesa Birt, “but it’s also confidence boosting, and kids love it!”
     But kids aren’t the only ones who love it, there are plenty of adults here, too. My turn comes, and I cautiously choose the yellow (lowest-to-the-ground) course. “Don’t worry, it’s very, very safe,” says Kyle Tisdale, a park supervisor. I fuss a bit with the safety clips—climbers are double-clipped to state-of-the-art harnesses attached to safety cords by two carabiners. “Only one clip at a time can be removed,” Tisdale says. “Remember, you’re always hooked on.” Having trained spotters on the ground ready to help is also a comfort. With the safety system in place, I step off the platform and—whee! I’m flying with the birds. For a moment, I’m Peter Pan! I even briefly consider a trip on the 63-foot-high double-black course. (“It’s a wonderful way to get over the fear of heights,” Birt says.) Nah, I’ll try that one next time.
     As I make a “perfect descent” back to terra firma, Indiana Jones zips by overhead, Batman and Robin whiz through and two acrobats pull off somersaults in mid-air. In the world of pretend, imaginations soar over the treetops in this enchanted forest.
    

     For schedule and admission, call 203/690-1717 or visit discoveryadventurepark.org.

The Adventure Park at the Discovery Museum

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