While adventure parks try to ‘out thrill’ the competition, best practices and safety certifications are continually being updated for the benefit of the industry as a whole, according to Kevin Shank, director of operations for Rainforest Adventures.
World wide there are hundreds of adventure parks which include outdoor ropes courses, canopy walks, mechanical rides, and zip lines and which can sometimes host up to 1000 people a day during a destination’s high season.
“The growth and popularity of outdoor adventure parks around the world has meant that companies are not only focused on innovation but also on increased safety,” says Shank. “As an industry, we all benefit if we all follow best practices and ensure our parks are fun, sustainable, accessible and above all safe.”
Rainforest Adventures is an example of this industry’s growth. Since 1994, the company has been combining unique rainforest adventures such as aerial trams, bobsleds and zip line rides, with exceptional, multi-lingual naturalist guides, giving each guest an educational, adventurous, sustainable and unforgettable rainforest experience. Today, with tour operations in Panama and award-winning, adrenaline-inducing adventure parks located in Costa Rica (both Pacific and Atlantic), Saint Lucia, Jamaica and Mexico, Rainforest Adventures locations serve as ecotourism attractions, nature reserves and wildlife refuges and on average welcome more than 270,000guests per park in a given year.
Therefore, safety, conservation and sustainability are priorities with every experience. Rainforest Adventures meets or exceeds several safety codes such as the American National Standard B 77.1, governing the use of aerial lifts and ACCT safety standards for zip lines and challenge courses. Each park undergoes a quarterly safety inspection from outside consultants as well as daily inspections from each parks maintenance and operations staff.
Rainforest Adventures also credits its reputation for award winning park experiences on the dedication of leaders like Shank, who are committed to ensuring the industry is sustainable, safe and exciting. After 35 years in the ski industry, Shank decided to move to a warmer climate and offer his expertise to Rainforest Adventures, which was one of the early pioneers in outdoor adventure parks and excursions.
Safety and operation innovations, some of which Shank helped to create, include:
- A tee-bar handle for zip liners to hang on to, which allows for better control of body movement and reduces the risk for guests gripping the line to slow down.
- A redundant line and double pulley system for all zip lines – meaning that adventurers are clipped onto two lines, in the event that one line breaks, and a second redundant pulley is also an added safety feature.
- A “monkey tale” or safety line that all guests keep attached during ropes courses and zip line adventures should also be an industry standard.
“When researching adventure parks, there are many ways consumers can determine if it is a well managed park,” says Shank. “Most parks list their safety certifications online as well as post them well in view at the parks. It also should be easy to find the park’s commitment to conservation and sustainability. How the park interacts with the local community is also important, and simply asking at the front desk of the hotel or asking a tour operator which park they prefer and why will provide invaluable insight into how well managed a local park is, and how seriously they take safety into consideration.”
About Rainforest Adventures
With tour operations in Panama and award winning, adrenaline-inducing adventure parks located in Costa Rica (both Pacific and Atlantic), Saint Lucia, Jamaica and Mexico, Rainforest Adventures locations serve as ecotourism attractions, nature reserves and wildlife refuges. Since 1994, the company has been combining unique rainforest adventures such as aerial trams, bobsleds and zip line rides, with exceptional, multi-lingual naturalist guides, giving each guest an educational, adventurous, sustainable and unforgettable rainforest experience. In 2013, every Rainforest Adventure experience received a certificate of excellence from Trip Advisor. For more information, visit www.rainforestadventure.com