Do you like soaring 75 feet above the surface of the Earth? How about at 30 mph while hanging from a steel cable? If your answer is yes, then you, dear reader, need to high tail it up to White River Zip Lines. Nestled in a magnificent pine and maple forest in Anderson, this adventure land is only a 45 minute drive from Indy. Officially open as of Saturday May 10th, White River Zip Lines offers adrenaline pumping thrills in a family friendly environment.
White River Zip Lines is located in the same complex as Indy Scream Park and White River Paintball. Additionally, it hosts various Mudathalons and Dirty Girl runs. This place is no stranger to high intensity thrill seekers, and those who find themselves in this category would feel more than at ease in this environment.
There’s no need to worry about parking when headed to this place. Several ample sized grass lots surround the registration and gear building. Registration for the zip line and the paintball were located at the same counter, and the owner’s helpful wife gave advice to leave any sort of valuables in the lockers provided around the building. However, be certain to bring your own lock, as there are none provided to the public! Following the registration, payment (over $100 per person), and waiver signing, it was time to wait to suit up and hit the lines.
Since this writer went on opening day, the waiting period took a little longer than expected, as the staff was still working out some of those big-day hiccups. After waiting with the group for about 45 minutes, the whole gang suited up into these hardcore zip lining suits. The staff was incredibly patient as they instructed everyone on how to wiggle into and strap on their bright yellow and orange harnesses. Once the gang was locked into their crotch strangling, butt pinching outfits, it was time to be loaded into the gators and carted off towards the zip line course.
As the cart approached the first tower, a wave of anxiety washed over the group. Some of the zippers, as they will be referred to from now on in this article, nervously joked with their family members, while others fidgeted in their seats. It must’ve felt a lot like how Jeff Goldblum and company felt when they departed on their tour of Jurassic Park. The group was sweaty, a tad nervous, and excited for what lie ahead. However, this tour would involve less dinosaurs, and a lot more fun.
The staff led the group on a ground-level practice run where you learned how to brake, save yourself from getting stuck on the line, and follow your “captain’s” signals. This was incredibly crucial and safety-related information, so if you ever decide to embark on the adventure that is White River Zip Lines, be certain to pay attention! After each person did a test run, it was time to climb up to the 75 foot high tower from which we would begin our zipping.
At the top, each person was hooked onto a line on the tower, while they waited for their turn to zoom to the next tower. Then the “captain” zipped across and signaled for the departures, while the “co-captain” waited behind and orchestrated the order in which the group left. The co-captain was the last guy to cross, and was also the last human face we saw before zooming through the air on nothing but a cable cord.
These two guides, did a fantastic job training us, and making us feel safe as we prepared for the first launch. Our captain and co-captain were totally affable, yet professional young men. As someone who was about to put their life into these two young guys’ hands, it was comforting to see how knowledgeable and secure they were in their position.
Zip lining is a lot like riding a roller coaster. If you’re scared of heights, and despise soaring through the air like a Peregrine Falcon stalking its prey, then this activity is not for you. However, if thrill is what you thirst for on this little blue dot we call our planet, then zip lining was crafted for you. Stepping off the tower and letting go of the solid surface below you is an incredibly unnerving act, but once you’re flying, you never want it to stop.
As the captain signaled for the brake, and the second platform rapidly approached, it became obvious that zip lining was, indeed, awesome. From that point on, the zipping itself became almost addictive. With one tower down, and nine more to go, the gang hooked in and prepared to do it again.
Scattered throughout the course were dual-racing zip lines, which were fabulous. You and another one of the zippers you’re with hooked into parallel lines and raced towards the next tower at break neck speed. Additionally, the flora of the course was beautiful. The enormous pines, towering maples, and shiny green underbrush of the forest really enhanced the entire experience. It was hard to not feel like an aerial woodland creature, as we shot over trees and bushes.
At about tower four, there was a switch in the rhythm of the course. The group had been up in the air for about an hour at this point in the scorching sun. Everyone was thirsty. The guides sympathized, and stated that there would be water on the course at sometime, but just not today. This was bad, because the zippers couldn’t have brought their own water. Also, standing in the sun for over two hours on an 80 degree day without water can be really hazardous. It was palpable that the lack of water on the two and a half hour course brought everyone’s spirits down a bit, but we trekked on and stayed positive. Although we were all a bit flustered, we made the most of the situation and cracked some jokes. It was pretty refreshing to observe how easily everyone interacted with our cellphones left in the lockers.
Additionally, at tower four, instead of zipping to the next tower, each participant was required to walk across a shaky, wobbly wire bridge. This was honestly a pretty unwelcome to change to the fun, free flowing adventure that the course had been up to this point. Imagine crossing a bridge with only horizontal planks strung up to vertical wire supports. It looked like something Indiana Jones would have had to maneuver across to snag the Holy Grail. It took a very long time for each separate group to cross this rickety bridge, because it seriously scared most people. This writer included. Finally, everyone crossed, and it was time to get back to zipping, but a lot of the group had grown tired from that random obstacle.
Getting back to the zip line was invigorating, as the group zipped over a low-lying creek, and prepared to cross another bridge. The next two bridges weren’t nearly as annoying as the first, because they were way more stable, and a whole less wobbly. At the last tower of the course, we were faced with another dual-racing zip line that would send us on home. We strapped on to the line and shot down like like rockets. We were tired, but pleased. Thirsty, yet satisfied. Most of all, we were happy to have had an afternoon at White River Zip Lines.
As the gators rounded us up and took us back to the main complex, everyone said their good-byes to each other, and the staff. Over those almost 3 hours together an odd bond had formed between us. Without phones, and in the presence of nature, we all faced our fear of something big, fast, and new, and we wound up really having a fabulous time. The gear was discarded, and participants dashed to the water fountain for a much needed gulp. Our captain and co-captain handed out vouchers for which to redeem free opening-day pictures of us on the lines. Unfortunately, this writer’s redemption code linked her to a random picture of some other dude, but hey! It’s the thought that counts. Anyway, here’s a picture of the writer with her fantastic guides.
For an afternoon of speed, sun, and adrenaline pumping fun, be sure to check out White River Zip Lines. The prices are a tad steep, but if you’re in the market for something adventurous in our own Indianapolis backyard, then there’s hardly a better option. The staff is cordial, and the course itself is terrific. So don’t just sit there on the computer, you bum, get on up to Anderson and catch some air!
White River Zip Lines
5211 S.New Columbus Rd. Anderson, IN 46013
Indy Scream Park was one of our favorite haunted attractions last year, so we couldn’t wait to spend opening weekend of the 2013 season back in our neighboring city of Anderson. The 45-minute trip felt much shorter than it actually was with a car full of talkative haunted house enthusiasts anxious for their first scare of the year.
The Monster Midway ties together everything that is the Indy Scream Park experience and puts a pretty bow on the entire package. The commons area is a key factor that sets Indy Scream Park apart from other haunts and proved to be an endless source of frightening fun as the roaming monsters and villains crept behind unsuspecting patron after unsuspecting patron. Indy Mojo Spook Staffer Gwen Wilson caught the eye of a giant, decaying clown who chased her into a port-o-let. When friends told her the coast was clear, she mistakenly believed them and opened the door. (click the button in the upper left corner to un-mute the clip!)
Our group also found the concessions to be quite satisfying- most notably a freshly hand-dipped corn dog for a mere $3. Three large fire pits provide both warmth and ambiance that draw in out-of-breath victims seeking refuge before embarking on their next haunt.
IndyMojo.com Spook Staffer Kayleigh Dye agrees, “Indy Scream Park sets the bar extremely high when it comes to overall haunting experiences. One of my major annoyances with haunted houses is that the money required for the ticket is often not justified by the time spent at the venue, but in Indy Scream Park’s case this is simply not true. In addition to visiting five terrifying haunts, we also had the opportunity to play carnival games, sip on a beer or cider and pose for a gruesome reenactment photo with many iconic Halloween characters seen strolling around The Monster Midway.
She continues, “The layout of the venue was functional and the staff was engaging. In between houses we stopped for a few handmade treats at the food tent. Fair prices and high quality won me over as I snacked on a corn dog and elephant ear.”
Spook Staffer Eric Graul favored the indoor haunts over the outdoor excursions. He explains, “Brickmore Asylum has the look and feel of an old mental hospital gone terribly, frighteningly wrong in all the right ways. My personal favorite here was bumping into “Tiny” enjoying a meal and the impressive (and loud) tesla coil lighting up a sizable room and an unfortunate victim.
“The final indoor area, Nachtmahr, is dark and plenty gory. Here, I found myself bargaining with one its inhabitants for my girlfriend’s body parts- not what I was expecting and super freaking creepy!”
IndyMojo.com Promotions Director and fellow Spook Staffer Matt Ramsey cites Brickmore Asylum as his favorite of the five haunts and also gives a shout out to Tiny, “Not being a very small guy, it was quite intimidating as he moved slowly and watched us walk through the room around him.” Creative Director Marcus Poulin later told us that he and his partner watched the most recent season of American Horror Story (which took place in a 1960’s asylum), to get inspiration for the set. The Brickmore Asylum is Indy Scream Park’s newest addition and it’s apparent that they’ve invested much time and money into its development.
Walking through Backwoods last year felt like a light-hearted romp through the woods, but this year every hillbilly we met was even more demented than the last. Backwoods stood out for its constant sensual fluctuation between the expansive, unknown space of the woods and the restrictive confinement of homes inhabited by crazy people. I found myself in an endless loop of hysterical laughter and unanticipated scares, making it my favorite of the five attractions at Indy Scream Park.
Ramsey adds, “This section was the only one to scramble the order of our group. With the way we were twisted and turned (sometimes even chased), members of our group found themselves in a different walking order at various points. That was different than what I’m used to, and I liked that.”
The Indy Scream Park offers a world class haunting experience right here in our own Midwestern back yard. While the drive and ticket price may at first seem a bit steep, any patron will agree both are more than justified by the fun and excitement they’ll get in return.
5211 S. New Columbus Rd.
Anderson, IN 46013
Open from 7pm to Midnight on Fridays & Saturdays.
Open from 7pm to 10pm on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
Indy Scream Park begins upon passing the ticket booth and entering the Monster Midway, which acts as both a central resting hub for weary travelers and a dark carnival of horrors. Our group discovered fairly priced concession items such as beer, elephant ears and water, picnic tables, fire spinners, a zombie-infested paint ball shooting range, games and friendly staff conveniently located on the Monster Midway. Patrons gathered around several large fire pits in the center of it all while monsters like this gigantic clown inconspicuously roamed the grounds to catch distracted haunted-housers off guard.
Looming to the left was a dark, gigantic barn erupting with screams. To the right, a backcountry woods flanked a cornfield featuring the silhouette of an eerily placed farmhouse centerpiece surrounded by bellowing fire blasts.
Indoors: Bedlam, Kurayami & Nachtmahr
The VIP fast pass provided exactly what Indy Scream Park promises: front of the line access- at least it did for us on opening weekend. However, if you opt to wait in line between attractions (five total), you may be thankful for the opportunity to catch your breath and strategize with your party before entering the next haunt.
Except strategizing is a wasted effort when each consecutive portion of the park hinders a different sense and provokes a different fear. After a trippy, glowing romp with Bedlam’s cackling clowns, hold on tight to your buddy as you navigate Kurayami’s shockingly dark maze where you must utilize sound, smell and touch to find your way out. The newly redesigned Nachtmahr is a mixed bag of original scenes and effects where you’re certain to be separated from your group by butchers and besieged by psychopaths armed with authentic medical equipment- all in the same haunt.
Outdoors: Infected & Backwoods
Indy Scream Park’s showcase attraction is unquestionably Infected, a gruesome twist on the traditional corn maze. Surrounded by distant gunshots while passing through tent stations filled with wounded soldiers and diseased locals, it’s easy to believe you’re really in the middle of a violent battle. When the trail empties into the front yard of the ominous farm house towering over the cornfield, take a deep breath as you approach the porch because- yes- you are about go inside of it.
If you make it out of the farm house virus-free, you’ll enter the Backwoods next. Along what could be a peaceful hike on a beautifully moonlit trail, hillbillies taunt their unwanted visitors and harass their unfortunate captives. It’s a socially awkward frolic through the forest and an effective cool-down from Infected’s blood-pumping adrenaline rush.
Here’s what my partner-in-crime, IndyMojo.com intern Gwen Wilson, had to say about some of her favorite moments:
Provided with a pair of snazzy 3D glasses, we entered Bedlam to meet walls painted in multiple medias of neon and blacklight. With a few scares here and there, the greater purpose of the attraction was to present attendees with something visually innovative, creative, and unique. My favorite was the revolving room that threw off my balance completely. Walking across a metal grate as a cylindrical wall rotates around it is a new way to scare your brain by messing with your senses. Overall, I loved Bedlam the most, especially for the artistry and craft behind its development.
My next favored attraction, Kurayami, was also the most intense for me. Heading into a dark room, the IndyMojo Staff quickly and instinctively clenched our sweaty palms together. We entered the attraction waiting for our first scare, but quickly realized this haunt relied on feeling your way through instead. Without a light in sight, we repetitively found ourselves mingling in a corner- unsure of where to lead the group next- until a spurt of air interrupted our confusion and reminded us that someone could be right behind me whispering in my ear.
Grab a carload of people and head up to Anderson for one the best haunts in the Indianapolis area. It’s absolutely worth the short drive and the price is totally right for the quality of entertainment.
5211 S New Columbus Rd
Anderson, IN 46013
Open Fridays, Saturdays, and Halloween 7 pm-midnight (general admission $27)
Open Thursdays and Sundays 7-10 pm (general admission $22)
Special thanks to Indy Mojo mofo Brandon “Puck” Connolly for his contributions to this review.