Queen Elizabeth Park zipline takes off

High-flying attraction about conservation and creating memories

Brides and grooms fly for free on the Queen Elizabeth zipline. That’s a deal not only because the onsite price to take the 30-second trip across the quarry gardens is $20, but because harnessing up a dress made with enough material to make enough pillows to outfit every bridal suite in Niagara Falls is a lot of work.

“Yeah! It’s definitely a technique!” said Rob Hicks who was training two Greenheart International Development Corp. employees on the art of the braking system on the lower tower during Saturday’s grand opening. If there is a master’s degree equivalent of wedding dress tucking, the Fremont Street zipline would be the place to receive it and that’s where the Las Vegas-based Hicks got his experience.

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“Lots of experience with the wedding dresses, maybe 100 of them. I don’t know, I lost track. As soon as you hike up the harness, the dress goes right with it. You gotta take care, start from the bottom, tuck it in, work it out, tuck it in, work it out. It’s all about taking care of that person in the dress.”

The QE Park zipline is 600 feet long and, at its highest point, 100 feet up so brides — and others in dresses — need not worry about the thrill-seekers on the garden paths below.

“Flashing? They don’t after I get done with them. They’re all tucked in,” said Hicks. “You know, you just got married and you have a beautiful woman and you don’t want to be giving everybody else a peep show.”

It’s not just the newly wed who view the park’s temporary zipline as an added bonus of getting married in the 75-year-old gardens, said Randi Thomas, business development lead for the locally owned Greenheart. It’s people who’ve never tried riding a zipline, which has increased in popularity since its inception 20 years ago as an ecotourism adventure in Costa Rica.

“A lot of locals just have never been and they’ve told me they’re so happy it’s in their backyard. I’m surprised by the percentage of guests that have never been before,” she said. “This is not an adrenalin zipline where you’re traveling down at 60 miles an hour. This is mostly taking in the scenery and bringing families out. It’s more of a gasp as you leave the tower rather than a scream.”

Although some locals were concerned the park’s zipline is both destructive and disruptive, the only noise from the grand opening was a quiet buzzing that was as unobtrusive as your next door neighbour bringing in laundry from their outdoor line. Adventure seekers would get more of a thrill heading to Whistler for the terrifyingly fun Cougar Mountain ziplines, and that’s perfectly all right with Greenheart, said Geoff Bell, one of the partners.

“It’s interesting that we even get negative comments but we’re totally accepting of it,” he said while his eight-year-old son Jack launched down the steel cable from the top tower. “We’ve had people ask, ‘You guys are here temporary, right? OK, we’re going to buy a ticket.’ You’ll never see the park from this angle ever again.”

The Vancouver Park Board agreed to receive the revenue sharing from the zipline on a sliding scale. The board will receive a 10 per cent return on revenues between $75,001 and $250,000, 35 per cent between $250,001, and $400,000 and 40 per cent if more than $400,001.

Aside from pruning trees near the lower tower, Bell pointed out that the zipline causes no harm to the park. “This is not only to show that this is another way of generating an income without ripping up soil, tearing down trees, and having an impact on the park, but it’s about creating memories. Our role as a company is conservation-based attractions and conservation comes from education and awareness. If all this does is bring people up here, it’s a win already.”

The zipline is open every day from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. until Sept. 30 and tickets can be purchased online at ticketleader.ca/events/flightlinez-vancouver for a two-dollar discount that also provides a discount into the nearby Bloedel Conservatory.

rvblissett@gmail.com

@rebeccablissett

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