Williamsburg's new Go Ape Zip Line and Ropes Course is ideal for the excitement seeker as well as the action-impaired.
I once rode a roller coaster at age 12 and vowed that day to never do it again. The thought of bungee jumping makes me nauseous. And I can’t even look down from the top of a ladder. So as I stand on the wooden platform of the zip line course with the un-cushiony forest far below and a cable that extends 600 feet across, I really begin to wonder, "What am I thinking?"
Go Ape Treetop Adventure opened in Williamsburg’s Freedom Park in April 2012, and I recently volunteered to try it. My husband, Pat, agreed to come with me for moral support and because, “Wow, that sounds so awesome!” (Side note—he’s ridden every single roller coaster at Busch Gardens multiple times and actually likes the horrifying thrill of free falling, so his opinion doesn’t count.)
We arrive at Freedom Park on a Sunday afternoon and walk up to the building with the Go Ape logo outside. After signing safety waivers, our instructor leads us to the training area and gives us a 30-minute overview of the different color-coded parts attached to our harnesses and the function of each one. Then he makes sure to emphasize the most important rule of the zip line—always stay attached. After following the instructor’s demonstrations on a few sample courses, we’re on our own. Besides zip lines, the Go Ape course includes wooden crossings, rope ladders and Tarzan swings. There are five courses total, each getting a little higher and ending with a little more zip, and moderate or extreme options throughout.
The extreme path has more intense features such as a twisted ladder that I saw someone lose their balance on (don’t worry, she was following the number one rule) and a Tarzan swing that involves hooking an attachment on your harness to a pulley, then jumping off a high platform into a rope web. Even Pat looks a little squeamish before attempting this, and it turns out that it causes that “exciting” stomach-feels-likeit’s- going-to-drop-out-of-your-body effect that he so enjoys. I am happy to forgo this one.
Once completing our courses, we stand at the very last platform of course five— the one with the intense, 600-foot zip line. After triple checking all my harness attachments, giving a final tug on the carabiner that rests atop the trolley and taking a deep breath, I step off. I find the stepping off part the most frightening, and from there, it becomes a totally exhilarating journey through the air. Even though I ungracefully soared backwards for my grand descent, I stood with a great sense of triumph from completing the course and also from swinging right out of my comfort zone and learning that I can indeed be adventurous and go a little ape every now and then.
Go Ape Treetop Adventure is located at 5537 Centerville Rd., Williamsburg. To learn more, visit www.goape.com/sites/freedom-park.