Treetop adventure course opens in Delaware [video]

Hanging from a wire, visitors to Lums Pond can experience the state park from 50 feet up in the trees, now that Go Ape has officially opened in Delaware.

Go Ape is a treetop adventure course, the first of its kind in the First State. 

“We have ziplines; five of those, four that will take you over Lums Pond and about 40 obstacles consisting of bridges, ladders, tunnels, Tarzan swings,” said Dan D’Agostino, who brought Go Ape to the United States from the United Kingdom in 2009.

As thrillseekers make their way through the course, D’Agostino says they’ll gradually make their way up towards the tree canopy; but, before they go up visitors have to undergo a 30 minute training session.

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In addition to Delaware, Go Ape is in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Indiana and Missouri.

“We’ve been really excited about expanding the operation in the mid-Atlantic region, D’Agostino said. “It’s a good opportunity for us to attract people from… Delaware, the Wilmington area, Philadelphia or Baltimore.”

The Bear location is the result of a public/private partnershipo with Delaware State Parks, the first time Go Ape has teamed up with a statewide park system. Until now, the adventure course has only worked with towns and municipalities.

“It’s the first high ropes, aerial adventure course in the state of Delaware and, really, I think what makes it even more unique than that, it’s the first high ropes aerial adventure course in any state park in the entire country,” said Greg Abbott with Delaware State Parks.

“Delaware State Parks has a great reputation. Obviously everyone knows them for their beautiful beaches and that sort of thing, but coming to Lums Pond, they’ve got some amazing forest parks as well,” D’Agostino added.

The partnership guarantees a $15,000 minimum to the state park system or three percent of Go Ape’s revenues, whichever is more. Delaware State Parks also gets to keep the park entrance fees, which is $3 for cars registered in Delaware and $6 for out-of-state vehicles.

“Our division is 65 percent self-supporting, so for 65 cents of every dollar that we spend we generate ourselves, so these public-private partnerships are really, really important for us,” Abbott said.

Money, Delaware State Parks says, will pay for maintenance at Lums Pond and educational programming at the park.

“We’re hoping that people will come for Go Ape and maybe stick around and do a picnic, or come to Lums Pond State Park and go to the boat rental,” D’Agostino said. “It’s not just the two to three hours that you would come and experience the Go Ape treetop adventure course, it could be an all-day or more activity of sticking around the park.”

“Getting families outdoors, that’s a key initiative for us not only here in our state park, but around the country. And I think if we can get folks out, they can enjoy the opportunity they have to come to a state park, they’re more likely to come back,” Abbott said, adding other states have already contacted him about how to set up a similar partnership.

First visited Go Ape when it was still under construction. No large machinery was used to build the course, all of the obstacles were built by hand using pulleys and wrenches and, D’Agostino said, nothing was attached to the trees in an invasive way.

Go Ape works on a reservation system; admission is $55 for adults and $35 for children 10 to 17 years old.

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