The TreeUmph! adventure course looks good to go, with a tantalizing array of ropes, cables and nets strung high between loblolly pines.
A Jan. 12 grand opening has been delayed, though, because of problems with the parking lot. This is fitting, considering the slogan for a high-flying new business.
“TreeUmph!, where the ground is overrated.”
Drivers on U.S. 70 east of Bradenton might get a glimpse of climbers hanging and swinging through the woods. A 650-foot ZIP line will send people careening toward the highway.
The 14-acre park will offer one rope course for kids and five for adults. Red-shirted guides will lead visitors to platforms and obstacles that rise 60 feet in the trees.
“Each course gets a little higher and more difficult,” says Aaron Corr, who is building the park. “The highest one, very few people, maybe 10 percent of our customers, will get up there. It’s just physically more challenging.”
That rope course is still safe, he quickly adds, but people tend to look down and freeze up.
“If we let everyone up there,” Corr says, “we’d be doing rescues all day.”
Treetop adventure parks are swinging open across the country. In Florida, there is a small course called ZOOm Air Adventure Park near Orlando.
TreeUmph! is a bigger park and a $1.6 million investment.
Corr is a consulting engineer. His wife, Kathy, is a physical therapist. Together, in Maine and Canada, they’ve run kayak outfitters and marine education businesses.
Now they live in Lakewood Ranch with their three children.
“They’ve broken all the rules,” Corr jokes. “My 6-year-old has done the ZIP line.”
TreeUmph! will offer regular park admission, along with group rates and party discounts. They expect visits from locals and tourists, from 7- and 70-year-olds, from timid newcomers to gung-ho thrill seekers.
Trips will start at a base camp for helmets, harnesses and training. There will be a snack bar where weary climbers can get food and drinks.
TreeUmph! rope courses wind through the shade of pines and live oaks in East Manatee County. There are some beautiful picnic spots. Summers will be humid and buggy, no doubt, but right now the park feels breezy and fresh.
Families and casual visitors may relax and try some of the beginner courses. More serious climbers will spend hours testing their strength and stamina on action elements with exotic names.
Jane’s Rope. The Barrel Game. Leap of Faith.
“These courses are exhausting,” Corr says. “You’ll leave these things whupped.”