(Virginia Beach, VA) – Today the City of Virginia Beach City Council approved a joint project between the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation and the Outdoor Venture Group. This approval officially enables the opening of Virginia’s largest “aerial forest park” in early summer and, in fall 2014, a conservation garden. Appealing to outdoor fun-seekers ages 5 and up, the Adventure Park, located on the campus of the Virginia Aquarium, will feature multiple zip lines and aerial ropes challenge courses. Activities at the park are forest-friendly, requiring only human power—no motors or machines.
The Adventure Park is a joint venture between the Aquarium’s nonprofit Foundation and the Outdoor Venture Group, the designer, builder and operator of the park. In the year following the opening of the course, the City’s Parks and Recreation Department will create a Coastal Conservation Garden featuring native plants for those who like their adventure a little closer to the ground. “This is the perfect blend of fun and conservation education,” said Lynn Clements, the Aquarium’s Executive Director. “This allows us to offer our visitors a different, natural experience without disrupting the environment around Owls Creek.”
By partnering with the Outdoor Venture Group through its Foundation, the Aquarium not only eliminated any tax burden on citizens to build and maintain The Adventure Park, but added an additional sales and admissions tax revenue stream to the City. The Outdoor Venture Group and the Foundation have a profit-sharing arrangement that will provide funding for the Foundation’s care of the Aquarium’s exhibit animals as well as its Stranding Response Program and education programs. The Coastal Conservation Garden will be built with Capital Improvement Project funds already earmarked for Parks & Recreation use. A portion of the profits from The Adventure Park will be used to maintain the Coastal Conservation Garden, which will be open to the public.
Consisting of 12 different ropes courses containing 160 platforms in the trees, plus another 40 platforms in a unique separate outdoor facility called “The Labyrinth”, the Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium will boast a variety of challenge levels, from introductory through advanced. The self-guided courses do not require previous climbing experience. After receiving a safety briefing and harness, each climber selects a course at their comfort level and then proceeds to navigate its different “bridges” or “elements” moving from tree platform to tree platform. The courses include zip lines as well. Climbers proceed at their own pace and each course requires anywhere from approximately 15-30 minutes to complete. Upon completion of one course, the visitor may again ascend the starting platform and select another course, repeating the process as many times as they wish for the duration of their timed ticket.
All climbers wear safety harnesses that employ “double-clipped-on” technology to help keep the climber continuously connected to a safety cable throughout their time in the trees. Certified tree arborists will be consulted to ensure the long-term health of the trees in the park are managed in the most sustainable way. The courses are designed for ages five and older, with appropriate challenges suited for kids, teens and adults.
For more information call 757-385-0300 or visit VirginiaAquarium.com.
The Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium is designed, built and operated by the Outdoor Venture Group, the leading authority in the United States on aerial forest parks and largely responsible for bringing this increasingly popular activity to the United States from Europe, where it originated. The Group has designed and built nearly a dozen other Adventure Parks throughout the United States for its clients.
Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation provides for the recreational needs of the community through parkland, facilities and programs to enhance the quality of life in Virginia Beach. We are accredited by CAPRA, the certifying agency of the National Recreation and Park Association. For more information, call (757) 385-1100 (TTY: Dial 711 Virginia Relay), visit VBgov.com/parks or sign up our email newsletters at VBgov.com/eNews. Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/VBParksRec.
The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums whose mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research and sustainable practices. The Aquarium is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach. For more information on exhibits, movies, boat rides and special event, call (757) 385-FISH (3474).