A few weeks ago I joined a group of lucky YVR Bloggers that were invited for a treetop adventure at Wild Play Element Parks in Maple Ridge. Never heard of Wild Play? Imagine a beautiful forested area with plenty of tall trees. Now imagine the trees as a maze, connected with games, obstacles and zip lines, with you be in this adventure! If you think this sounds like a thrill, you’re spot on.
Wild Play Element Parks are located in five different cities: Maple Ridge, Nanaimo, Victoria, Kelowna, Mt. Sima (in the Yukon), and Wood Buffalo. Each park is a little different in how they are set up and what they offer. At the Maple Ridge location, visitors are able to complete the Monkido (think of a jazzed up way of saying “monkey do”) tree top obstacle course and do the WTF (What’s To Fear) Jump. The Monkido course consists of zip lines, rope swings, wobbly bridges, tight ropes, and other obstacle I can’t even name!
When I first got to Wild Play, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was a bit nervous about the thought of not being able to have the strength to complete even one leg of the four-leg Monkido course. Memories of the rope in grade 5 gym class came back to me and I visualized standing at the bottom of this rope not sure quite what to do. Lucky for me, that is not really what Monkido is about. The first part of this adventure was getting outfitted with our “monkey pants” and some hands-on training where our helpful ground guide Isaac showed us what basic safety rules we needed to keep in mind at all times. It’s important to note that Wild Play has made this training visual (“monkey see, monkey do”), not verbal, so anyone can look and understand. This is great for those who are hard of hearing or ESL, as language is not a barrier. In order to pass the training and begin the Monkido course, all participants must complete a small training course that’s just a few feet off the ground.
Once done the training, we all headed to the start of the Monkido course. Much like ski slopes, the Monkido course is colour-coded (green, blue, red, and black) with difficulty increasing as you go on. I knew I wanted to complete the green and blue courses and hoped I’d complete red. As soon as you get out on the course, you get right into guiding yourself, walking on tight-ropes, and zip lining to the next section. There are first-aid certified guides on the ground, watching to make sure everyone is being safe and aware of their surroundings as well as to help people as needed.
Talk about an immediate adrenaline rush once you get up there! You don’t start off that high, but all the obstacles keep the course feeling like an amazing adventure and you slowly work your way higher into the trees. Also, the fact that the course is self-guided makes it feel riskier and more exciting. Take, for example, zip lining. I had zip-lined once previously, and that time we had numerous guides helping us and securing us. With the Monkido course, you are the one doing all the work, so you realize you need to be both cautious and aware while having this adventure.
While some parts of the course are physically challenging, others are a bit scary, and others are just fun. It’s a great mix of all three elements, which makes for an interesting course. At the end of each level you have an option to exit, but you must complete each leg that you are on. In other words, there’s no escape route halfway between levels, although there is always help available to those who feel stuck. And if you really get stuck, not to worry, because the staff is well-trained in performing rescues to those who need it! I got a bit stuck at one point and realized I didn’t know the best way to get across the obstacle. There I was, right in the middle of this series of swinging logs, realizing that I had started off on these logs in completely the wrong way, having started off with way too much momentum. The guides were awesome (thank you Wendy!), and the manager talked me through the best way to complete the obstacle and provided me with the encouragement I needed to finish that obstacle!
In the end, I was able to complete the green, blue, and red levels. I opted to exit at the end of red because I found that the first three levels were such a full-body workout that I was totally exhausted. I would definitely love to come back and attempt to complete the whole thing another time.
After you complete the course, you have the option to do the WTF (What’s To Fear) Jump. I didn’t do the jump, but some of my fellow YVR Bloggers did, and they said it was a fun thrill. The WTF Jump is a bungee jump from atop of a 12 metre high platform in a tree, and can be done at the end of the Monkido course or on its own, without completing the course.
My experience at Wild Play was definitely memorable. I had a great time, challenged myself, made some new friends, and had a whole lot of fun. I can’t wait until I can come back again. Hmmm, who knows? Perhaps I’ll set a new record time to complete the course!
The bottom line:
Where is it?: 23485 Fern Crescent, Maple Ridge, BC
How much is it?: Monkido: Classic – $42.99, Buddy – $35.99 each, and Kids – $22.99 WTF Jump: Single jump – $19.99, Add-on – $14.99
What are their hours?: Changes seasonally. For September they are open Thursday & Friday from 12 to 4 and Saturday & Sunday from 10 to 4. Wild Play Maple Ridge closes on November 2. Check the website for more detailed info.
What should I bring?: A water bottle, change for a locker, a small wallet, a snack for post-Monkido, and possibly a camera if you aren’t worried about the possibility of dropping it! Make sure to wear comfortable, weather-appropriate clothing, good shoes, and, if you can, a small fanny pack like this one. You won’t be able to wear a backpack or purse while doing the course, so don’t plan on taking a lot of stuff with you!
Who is this good for?: Anyone, 7 and older! Wild Play offers a kids course, a partnered course, and the adult Monkido course.