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We review 3 adventure parks, antics included


Published:

FT Undercover

 Senior Editor Beth Ewen, left, puts her hops to the test at Altitude, while reporter Callie Evergreen gets the wind beneath her wings at iFly.


A posse of annoyed children glared after the attendant cleared them from the Altitude Trampoline Park kiddie pit so two oldsters could try it out. Their anger became disgust as myself and the CEO of Altitude, Mike Rotondo, tried to jump over the slowly moving foam arm, lamely in my case but with verve in Rotondo’s. Who knew the timing needed would be so difficult to judge? Who knew a half-dozen tweens could give such a ferocious evil eye? I scooted out as fast as possible, then spent the rest of my visit observing: Rotondo in the dodgeball pit, taking on all comers who were eager to pelt him; teenagers flipping off the high dive into a pile of foam balls; hands, so many, many hands, touching each and every surface and cranny during spring break in Dallas/Fort Worth. In March. Four days before the COVID shutdown. At $13 for 60 minutes and $17 for 90 and up, Altitude bills itself as entertainment for the whole family, and everybody else seemed to be having a ball. For me, I’d only go if there were a wine bar, preferably across the street.

The upshot: There’s plenty to do for all different ages at Altitude, some 58-year-old women excepted. —B.E.


Ever the adventurer, I’d planned on skydiving for my 18th birthday, but it never happened. This year, I got lucky enough to try out iFly, an indoor skydiving franchise with more than 80 locations worldwide. Upon arrival, my husband and I got fitted for jumpsuits and helmets. Our instructor, Megan, showed us a cheesy intro video and taught us hand signals, since the 150-mph wind made it a bit hard to hear. On my turn, I semi-confidently fell into the vertical wind chamber, where Megan was standing to grab onto my suit so I didn’t fly into the glass walls. After a bit of flailing, I struck a stable superwoman pose and Megan let go of me for a couple seconds during my first 60-second flight. It really felt like I was flying, just without the scenery. On my second turn, I pointed upwards to signal I wanted to pay the $20 extra for Megan to take me flying to the top of the tunnel. A professional skydiver and a teenage gymnast then watched as their iFly instructors showed off, doing incredible flips and tricks.

The upshot: $70 for two 60-second turns in a wind tunnel seemed steep, but the training from instructors and equipment was included, plus the incredible feeling of flying was worth it for us. —C.E.


What do you get when a bunch of 30-somethings take over a Sky Zone? Lots of laughs and some exceptionally sore shoulders. When a friend (name withheld to protect the silly) opted for a Sky Zone birthday party, it sounded potentially awkward. Would we be dodging children? Would we break the trampolines or ourselves? Would we even have fun? After a few cautious bounces, the awkwardness melted away and we had a wildly good time. The trampolines are extraordinarily taut, compared to two other entertainment concepts I’d been to. That means effortlessly flying all around the room and into the foam ball pit. It was also clean; this was by no means a snotty ball pit inside a fast-food joint. There were sanitizer stations everywhere and the staff had clearly cleaned just before our group. (And this was before COVID-19!) Sans birthday party pricing, $15.99 gets you 60 minutes.

The upshot: SkyZone has since added more attractions, but the facility we visited didn’t have the climbing or Ninja Warrior courses. That was probably a saving grace. Adult bouncers beware: your shoulders are going to be sore in the morning. —N.U.

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