TreeUmph: Checking Out Life in the Trees
Imagine a place with Tarzan-style ropes, zip lines, bungee swings, and hanging nets up in the trees—all of which you experience from the, er, comfort of a harness.
TreeUmph, which opened off of State Road 70 in Bradenton (but near Myakka City) in January, is doing a brisk business. During our visit on a recent weekday holiday, TreeUmph was absolutely packed with adventure-seekers of all ages.
When you visit TreeUmph, you sign in at base camp (reservations are strongly recommended), put on a harness (staff can help you if you’re not sure how), take a half-hour safety course so you learn how to use your harness and the ropes safely, and then you’re off. Adults can use up to five courses that escalate (literally) in difficulty—during our recent visit, we heard that only about 50% of visitors complete the final two and most difficult courses. Those who finish all the courses can celebrate with a 650-foot zip line. Children ages 7 to 11 can use the much smaller but still challenging kids’ course called Ape-Up, which is right beside the basecamp.
TreeUmph is the only “elevated adventure course” in Southwest Florida, according to its website. It is part of a chain of parks called TreeGo.
Admission cost is $49.95 for adults (age 12 and over), $34.95 for a junior ticket (we’ll explain in tip 3 below), and $25.95 for the kids’ course. There are discounts for early visits, veterans, and for seniors. If you see a TreeUmph promotional flier or brochure, it will probably have a 10% discount coupon.
And here’s an update, effective May 2013: Get out your flashlights as TreeUmph is now offering NIGHT tours–they’ll provide headlamps and adventure, you make advance reservations and be ready for some nighttime fun.
6 Ways to Prepare for TreeUmph
Considering a visit to TreeUmph? Then consider a few tips gathered on our recent visit.
1. Bring gloves and water. Gloves you might use for manual work or exercise will help keep your hands from getting sore while you hold on to the many overhead ropes. However, if you forget them, TreeUmph sells ‘em for a couple of bucks. The park also sells water but again, you can save some dough if you bring your own (just remember you’ll have to carry it with you).
2. Plan to be there a good part of the day. Completing all of the adult courses can take around four hours (the good news is it’s a real workout, so you can skip your treadmill time on the day you visit). By the time you check in and do the safety course, you’re talking about an all-morning or all-afternoon visit. If you have kids doing the Ape-Up course, they’ll likely make it through in 15 to 20 minutes. Considering they can complete the kids’ course twice, you’re talking 45 minutes or so. So, if half your group is doing the adult course and the other half will stick with the kiddos, make sure the kiddo group brings something else to entertain themselves like pizza or a picnic. There are some picnic tables.
3. Decide how adventurous you want your 9 to 11-year-olds to be. Children in this age group can complete three of the five adult courses if they are with an adult. Certainly, there are some who manage just fine. Still, keep in mind that there’s a higher cost with the adult course (you’ll buy the Junior Ticket instead of the children’s ticket), and some kids will find it scarier than the kids course. The kids’ course even sparked some fear in the 9-year-old in our group who is usually a risk taker. You could always have them try the children’s course and promise a visit to the bigger course for next time if they do well.
4. Time your visit to experience fewer crowds. We thought 11 a.m. on a weekday would be a reasonable hour—turns out, we didn’t think about it being a holiday, so we waited in line about a half hour to check in and another half hour to wait for the safety course. We actually stopped by for a quick look during a recent Saturday and it was less busy than our weekday holiday jaunt. Consider getting an early start (the park opens at 8 a.m. on the weekend and 10 a.m. on weekdays) or a regular (non-holiday) weekday visit.
5. Use the park’s website to help prep for your visit. Click here to find all the specifics on what you should and shouldn’t wear (leave the heels and open-toed shoes at home), the park’s weather policy, and how early to arrive before your reservation.
6. Enjoy! You are held in place by your harness. Yes, the course can be scary—but TreeUmph emphasizes safety, you learn how to properly use your harness and the ropes during your orientation course, and you can stop if you don’t want to go past a certain point in the course.