(July 26, 2013) Ocean City thrill-seekers have a new to-do item to check off their lists now that Frontier Town, located off Route 611 in West Ocean City, opened its High Ropes Adventure Park.
The two ropes courses take visitors on a self-guided tour in the trees as they tackle 30 elements from swaying bridges to “hugging poles” and a trapeze, ending with a zip line ride back to the high ropes HQ. Guests must complete an easier course before taking on the more difficult ropes challenge.
“A lot of people do it for the sense of accomplishment,” Frontier Town’s High Ropes Manager Chris Richardson said. “They see it not only as a physical challenge, but a mental challenge.”
That’s because the course is designed in the European style, meaning climbers must decide how to complete obstacles for themselves, Frontier Town’s General Manager Harold “Deck” Decker said.
“Once people do it, they get a much better feeling of accomplishment” than if they were guided through the course, he said.
That’s not to say that help isn’t on hand, though. Around 10 staff members patrol the grounds under the ropes course, ready to make “rescues” at any time a climber feels uncomfortable finishing his or her run.
The ropes course begins with a safety lesson from course facilitators, who outfit guests with a tight-locked harness. The harness features a smart belay system, meaning only one of its two karabiners that hold climbers to safety ropes can be opened at the same time.
Guests then take a test run on a miniature, ground-level obstacle before climbing to the first course.
The easier Green Course takes about 30 minutes and takes visitors 15-30 feet in the air across 15 obstacles. The more challenging Blue Course is around a 45 minute run reaching 52 feet at its highest. It has harder elements that require some upper body strength, but an average, healthy person can complete both courses.
The loop ends with a series of zip lines — what Decker calls the “reward” after the ropes course work.
Many take on the ropes course to overcome a fear of heights, but some, like Decker, use it for exercise. Guests as old as 72 have completed the Frontier Town courses.
“A lot of people seem to enjoy it, young and old,” Richardson said.
“It was great,” said Danielle Marsh of Gardiner, N.Y., after completing the Green Course. “It’s pretty challenging because it’s all about balance.”
The ropes course is the newest in Frontier Town’s many expansions. The complex opened in 1960 with the Western Theme Park, adding a campground in 1963 and continuing expansion to include a water park, Wild West shows, a saloon, an ice cream parlor, a gift shop and an arcade.
With continued success, Decker hopes to add to the ropes course each year. The land has enough space to fit up to 10 courses, he said. Richardson said he also hopes to use the course for team building activities for summer camps, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, youth groups and other organizations.
The High Ropes Adventure Park is one of few high ropes courses in the area and can be coupled with other Frontier Town activities for a discount. A three-hour run of the course, with repeats allowed, costs $40. Frontier Town campers and those going to the Water Park or Wild West Show get a $10 discount, also available in some Ocean City coupon books and weekend newspapers.
The Frontier Town High Ropes Adventure Park is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through the camping season, late April to late November. Climbers must be at least 10 years old and those under 18 need a parent’s signature to climb. There is a minimum weight restriction of 80 pounds and a maximum of 265 pounds.
For $20, guests can wear a helmet cam that lets them shoot and take home a DVD of the adventure. Participants must wear closed toe shoes.
Visit www.frontiertown.com/high-ropes for more information and photos of the ropes courses.