GALVESTON — Things look a lot different from the top of an 80-foot jungle gym.

It’s a bit windier at the top, too, said Terry Barnhill, after he got two feet back on the ground.

“You don’t think the height was going to bother you when you’re secure, but when you get up there it still bugs you,” Barnhill said as he stood looking up at the new Moody Gardens ropes course on Thursday. 

Barnhill and a group of friends from Conroe were among the first visitors to be able to try the new attraction, which will open officially on Saturday.

Construction of the green and purple-painted structure started about a month ago, and crews this week were still putting the final touches on the grounds around the structure.

The attraction is split into two different aspects: the ropes course and the zip line.

The ropes course consists of five levels, each with its own group of unique, bridge-like paths. At the lower levels, the bridges are sturdy and have conveniently placed ropes to grab on to. 

But at higher levels, the hand holds become more scarce, the paths more narrow and, in at least one diabolical instance, solid footing is thwarted by an intentionally wobbly beam.

“I think it’s good for a challenge, to get a little adventure in their life,” said Kelly Shassey, the ropes course manager for Moody Garden. 

“You can conquer a fear of heights. I think it’s a good thing. Once you do that, you want to do something harder and harder.”

The course is something that’s easy to break a sweat on, but behind the thrills are a number of safety measures.

Each climber is fitted into a harness which is then connected to a strap by a carabiner that can only be removed by a special key. 

The end of the strap is placed into a slotted metal rail that allows a person to walk the course, but not fall off it. (The strap also proves to be a reliable handhold when a step goes awry.) 

And if you get stuck, the course is attended to by as many as 12 Moody Gardens employees at one time. 

The zip line requires less physical endurance, but perhaps more intestinal fortitude.

The zip line starts at the top of the ropes course and sends riders on a brisk 500-foot ride over Moody Garden’s pool area and lazy river. At the other end, riders are sent up to the top of another tower and sent back to where they came from.

Depending on the wind direction, a ride could be stopped a few feet short of the platform or be given a generous boost of speed.

The course will open on weekends only starting Saturday, and will open daily later this summer.


 

IF YOU GO

Admission prices

Zip Line: $18

Ropes Course: $18

Both: $27

 

Contact reporter John Wayne Ferguson at 409-683-5226 or john.ferguson@galvnews.com.

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