Owners Gord Ross and Tom Benson created this park in March of 2006 to introduce outdoor adventure activities to more people. No previous experience or training necessary! If you can walk, climb, jump or swing and have an appetite for adventure, this park has something for you!
As a testament to their passion for the outdoors, Gord and Tom designed all the tree courses such that they do not harm the forest environment. Platforms in the tree course, for example, are held in place using a compression system to protect the living tree from damage. Cables are blocked off to prevent them from cutting into the tree trunks. The owners are proud to say that if "their products were to be disassembled today, very little evidence of their existence would be left behind."
I admit I was a little nervous coming to Wildplay Element Park because I have a fear of heights. But I saw this as an opportunity to grow out of my comfort zone. Wildplay’s mission is "to engage people in active adventure experiences, where they are challenged to evolve beyond their self-perceived limits. Engage - Experience - Evolve." Well said, as I was engaged in the outdoor jungle gym and evolved out of my self-perceived limits.
My guide, Chris gave me a demonstration of the zip line before I did the Canyon Zip. The first half of the zip line took me across the river canyon. Then I reached a platform on a tree where I continued to zip through the scenic canyon crossing the river and passing underneath the world-famous bungy bridge. I felt free and liberated soaring through the open air!
When I was heading over to the Monkido Aerial Tree Course, I thought, "I got this one in the bag, how hard can it be?" There are four levels, Green (Easy), Blue (Challenging), Red (Hard), and Black (Difficult). With each new color level, the height goes higher. I started on the green course which was a good warm up for me, and then I skipped the blue level and went straight to the red level. My fear of heights kicked in as I climbed the tree to get to the start of the red course. The course started with the most challenging obstacle, the moving logs. When I stepped on one, the other one would move away, making me want to do the splits. The obstacles were challenging but I was completely safe as I was roped in at all times. The cables attached to me can hold the weight of a bus. Now, that’s reassuring in case I slip. There were no ladder exits once I started the level, as Wildplay wants to challenge each guest to evolve beyond his limits. The 70 obstacles in this course gives your whole body a workout that tests your agility, flexibility, strength and confidence.
After I climbed to the top of the 150-foot bridge to do the King Swing, I noticed how windy it was at the top. I walked in the middle of the iron bridge, not wanting to be blown over. I met my tandem partner, Jonathan, who I would be strapped in with. If guests weigh under 170 lbs, they will need to buddy up with someone. I sat on the ledge of the bridge and I was strapped into a comfortable, secure paragliding harness. I was told that we would free fall for 90 ft before the G-Force will rock our very core and then go at the thrilling speed of 140 km/hr.
One of the staff, Steve, said that on the count of three they were going to push us off and I said “Noooooo….” as I looked over the edge into the canyon, feeling the wind, and my body slowly slipping over the edge. And then I dropped face first, free falling for 90 ft towards the river. Then the pendulum’s force rocked my very core, swinging me towards the sky and towering trees and then back towards the bridge. We slowly swung back and forth and I let out a scream after I was able to catch my breath again! It was exhilarating! This ride is definitely scarier than the Bungy Jump because you free fall a lot farther than the Bungy Jump. Don’t let the name “Swing” fool you. It’s AWESOME!!
I was impressed at how professional, caring and helpful the staffs were. They did everything to make me feel comfortable and safe. They take pride in themselves for providing fun while being safe. Thank you for the thrill of my life!
35 Nanaimo River Road
Nanaimo, British Columbia