OCEAN CITY — In a town where there are plenty of opportunities for thrill-ride entertainment, a business has to be willing to rethink everything they know about adventure rides in order to remain at the forefront of the experience-ride pack.
Which is why it’s no surprise that the folks at Jolly Roger Amusements have added one to Speed World of the few flatland zip line rides available in the country and the only one available on the Eastern Shore to Speed World.
Ziplines are apparatus most people know primarily from action movies. A cable connects two points and the person riding dons a harness, attaches himself or herself to the zip line and rides the length of the line from Point A to Point B.
When Steve Pastusak, Speed World’s general manager, saw the opportunity to increase the options for potential customers he also knew the wisest move was to make sure Speed World could do it at least as well if not better than anyone else.
“We’re always looking for something that nobody else has,” he said. “We started putting the idea together last December.”
Most parks that have ziplines, however, also have natural altitudes and significant amounts of open space over which to ride. Since Ocean City lacks both natural altitude and, accepting the Atlantic Ocean or the bays, no long stretches of open space to speak of, the production team had to find a creative way to address this problem.
They solved the problem by designing Extreme Ziplines in such a way as to make use both of the limited space and natural altitude.
The course is laid out in four trips plus the grand finale “Leap of Faith” so patrons can get the full zipline experience without having to travel into the jungle on a special ops mission.
Starting 60 feet above the Figure 8 Raceway, participants cruise along more than 1,100 feet of steel cable from start to finish. Each group of zipliners is accompanied by the park’s professionals, who make sure the lines are clear and properly attached. Since most people are not professional stunt-people, several fail-safes have been put in place to ensure that the trip is nothing but pleasurable.
The attendants were trained on how to handle the ziplines during an intensive course provided by the company that designed and installed the feature.
“We’ve taken something that everyone wants to do and made it so they can,” Pastusak said. “You don’t have to be a rock climber to be able to do this.”
Possibly the greatest upside to having the trip broken down into four sections is patrons can learn to ride the zipline in increments. At last weekend’s opening, HMRA Director Susan Jones, Councilwoman Mary Knight and Atlantic General Hospital CEO Michael Franklin were among the first zipline riders.
While each in their own way flailed a little awkwardly between station one and station two by the time they moved to the third station they were comfortable enough with the process to truly control their experience, even showing off a little bit as they improved along the ride.
At the final station, after having traveled the length of the course, participants take the “Leap of Faith,” falling Nestea Plunge-style backwards into the air before rappelling the final 20-or-so feet to the landing zone. It’s an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed given that it’s one of the safest ways to participate in the extreme sport without leaving town.