We love going to the zoo. My son is an animal fanatic and his favorite thing in the world is “playing zoo”. Usually this entails him portraying the zoo keeper, the animals, or in most cases, both. Now we’ll have to add dare devil to his zoo repertoire thanks to the Philadelphia Zoo’s new WildWorks Ropes Course.
This new attraction, presented by Independence Blue Cross, is located in the area that previously housed the zoo balloon. Instead of expanding the adjacent parking into the already paved area, the zoo wisely decided to expand their attractions to draw in adults and kids alike by creating a ropes course that caters to both. Adults and kids over 48” can explore the 34-feet high course that offers a unique experience to every visitor as they pick their path to cross bridges, balance on ropes, climb through obstacles, and zip over or to the bottom of the course.
While it looked like something I would have thoroughly enjoyed, I was alone with my kids when I visited, so I wasn’t able to experience the adventure first-hand. However, when I asked others what they thought, “Fun!” and “Scarier that I thought.” were the common themes. Of course, everyone is hitched in with harnesses, so I’m pretty sure it’s what one might call “safe scary”.
The Tykes Course is a miniature version of the adult course offering little kids their own safe scare. While I don’t have the measurements, I’m going to say nothing is over 3 feet off the ground. The bridges get wobbly, the beams are narrow and the zip line is just long enough to ensure the little kids have plenty of time to feel the thrill of swinging through the air. My kids’ favorite two activities were the ropes, where they hung on the harness and pulled themselves to the other side said ropes, and the zip line where they jump from one platform to a padded ramp about 25-30 feet away (I could be way off because, again, I didn’t have a measuring tape). My favorite part of the course is that it’s in a small enough area that the parents’ helping their kids are running around like crazy trying to keep up with their kids. My kids had a blast and said they wanted to stay there all day (we didn’t).
I want to highlight the woman who was manning the Tykes Course. I wish I had gotten her name, because she was great with the kids. She was kind and clear with her instructions and was just all-around great with the kids. Working with little kids can be stressful especially when trying to make sure they are listening to new information that is necessary for them to hear. She did a great job engaging them while not talking down to them. Kudos to her.
There are a few drawbacks to the course that I experienced. The first being that it’s wide open on cement with no hint of shade. While it was gorgeous the day we went, I can see it getting a bit steamy and the metal poles and platforms the little kids climb on and grab getting hot to the touch. They may want to invest in some big shade sails I saw on top of the adult course to shield the Tykes course as well. Another drawback is that while the condensed size is a positive to adults who don’t feel like clocking in the steps going back and forth following their kids around, I can see elements getting crowded and back-ups occurring frequently. There weren’t many kids on the course when we went since it was a media preview, but even with the few that were there, back-ups occurred. Also, the mechanisms that allow the harnesses to move along the course tended to get stuck on a regular basis which hindered the kids’ movement from element to element.
I think the suitable ages for the Tykes course would be 3.5 to 7, depending on the child’s level of athleticism on the younger end and their level of risk anxiety on the older. My daughter just turned 7 but is not the biggest adventure seeker, so this was right up her alley. If you have a kid who likes hanging from the rafters but does not meet the 48” height requirement, the Tykes course would be a fun diversion but probably hold few thrills.
To learn more about the WildWorks Ropes course including availability and prices, visit https://www.philadelphiazoo.org/Explore/Attractions/WildWorks-Ropes-Course.htm.