Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Family Review of Edmonton's Snow Valley Aerial Park

I have a giant list of  "super cool awesome places" across Alberta that I want to visit with my son - and the list just won't stop growing! Every time I turn on my computer, I'm faced with images of new parks, playgrounds, theme parks, and adventurous activities that beg to be done before my son gets too old to appreciate them.

A giant jungle gym for the whole family! Snow Valley Aerial Park, Edmonton

Fortunately, one of my newest discoveries, the Snow Valley Aerial Park in Edmonton, has no maximum age limit. My son won't turn ten, and suddenly think this playground is "lame." The reverse could actually be said because I can't wait to go back to Edmonton by myself so that I can fully enjoy this new aerial park as an adult!!

One of the intermediate elements at the Snow Valley Aerial Park (a good challenge for kids and adults alike!)

Not a "One-Time" Kind of Experience

I'd secretly kind of hoped that we'd make the trek north to Edmonton, try the aerial park for a couple of hours, check it off our giant list of cool things to do across Alberta, and then be done with it.That way, we could focus on other "big list items" and rest assured that we were happy with our one-time experience at Snow Valley.

Unfortunately (maybe fortunately) the Snow Valley Aerial Park is not a one-time kind of experience. It's a "buy a membership and return often" kind of experience. - which is bad news if you live in Calgary!

Seriously, Snow Valley, can you build us an aerial park too please?

Who wants to build us an aerial park in Calgary? Anybody??


Once is Definitely Not Enough with the Snow Valley Aerial Park

On our first visit, we learned how to clip on and off of the fixed lines, we gained some basic confidence, and we tried beginner and intermediate elements on the first two levels. We climbed and played for two hours (you pay for three) before we tired out and left to find lunch.

Were we to return, we'd love starting off with the advantage of already knowing how to work with the carabiners and cables. We'd head straight for the second level, and we'd definitely try to reach the third level! (I will return to cross the kayak!!)

My son was also starting to get more confident by the end of our second hour and I suspect would be willing to try harder elements on a future visit. On my own, I'd definitely try the more challenging activities without having to supervise a child at all times.

My son loved crawling through these wooden barrels on the second level of the aerial park

What to Expect from Your Visit to Snow Valley

This is the first "tower style" aerial park of its kind to be built in Canada (the third across North America.) - Hence, why I screamed when I saw photos of the park for the first time because I knew it was rather exceptional for a city aerial park.

"With a dedicated kids route on the ground level for kids 100 cm and up and over 100 games on the entire structure, there is something for everyone. The theme for the Snow Valley Aerial Park tower is Edmonton’s River Valley along with Snow Valley and Rainbow Valley with themed elements including a ski bridge, snowboard balance bridge, picnic table, bicycle, plus a few surprises. The games are graded like runs on a ski hill; green, blue and black."

Admission includes entrance to the park for up to three hours (including a short introduction on how to work with your carabiners, and an overview of the safety guidelines.)

Children can play on the aerial park if they are at least 3 years old and between 100 cm and 140 cm tall. They get exclusive access to all 19 Ground Level Elements.

Exploring the train, one of the ground level elements (first level climbing wall above)

Juniors under 11 years of age (minimum 125 cm tall) can play on the entire structure but must be accompanied by a harnessed adult and supervised at all times. And adults must pay to be on the structure (even if just supervising.)

Families can save money with a family adventure pass (which includes admission for at least one adult and two minors) or by visiting Sunday to Thursday after 6pm.

Please visit the Snow Valley Aerial Park website for full information on all adventure rates.

Our goal was to make it to the trailer on the second level of the park

Our Personal Experience

My 8 year old son liked the park and had a good time. His attention span lasted for about two hours before he became hungry, hot (it was getting quite warm and sunny by the time we left,) and needed a break. We decided to call it quits at this point, knowing we'd come back again. If you want to climb for the full three hours, make sure you bring water and snacks with you (you can leave them on a ground level platform to access while still wearing your harness.)

My son tried a few of the ground level elements but wanted to explore higher up, so we moved up to the first level. This is where we began to face a few fears, dealt with one bout of nervous tears, and I had to encourage him through a tricky move or two. We mostly stuck to green elements (or some of the easier blue ones,) and I was purely along to assist with clipping, un clipping, and motivation.  If you want to go and really challenge yourself as an adult, you should plan a girls night out, a date night, or grab some of your buddies for a fun couple of hours away from the kids.

Know as well that as an adult, you will be doing a LOT of your child's carabiner work. My son often wasn't tall enough (or coordinated enough) to un clip his carabiners and move them to the next section of fixed cable.

My son found these types of elements quite terrifying so we tried to steer clear of them

We made it up to the second level and realized that this was a great place to start with youth. My son was very comfortable on the climbing wall (being a rock climber,) easily made it across the bench, through the wooden tunnels, and then got into the trailer (or big goal.) From here we back-tracked through these easy elements rather than continue onto harder ones.

While my son was definitely challenged on the course, we found it easy enough to move around on each level if we chose our paths wisely. We stayed away from all black elements, chose our blue ones carefully, and always back-tracked as necessary to avoid getting into places we weren't comfortable with. And that is the brilliance of this park - you can always go back! There are multiple ways to move around every platform and it's like a giant "choose your own adventure" course.

Rest stop on the second level en route to the trailer

Tips for Getting the Most out of your Experience at Snow Valley 

  • Go early in the day before it gets too hot or too crowded. While there is a maximum amount of people allowed on the park at any one time, it will feel crowded if there are too many people on your level. We went on a Saturday (over summer vacation) so had to deal with occasional line ups at popular elements, and a few entertaining moments where we had to figure out how to untangle ourselves when passing people going the opposite direction.

  • Arrive 30 minutes early to get ready for your time slot.

  • Bring snacks and water to leave at the bottom. You can go down to the ground level at any time and rest. You just have to stay in your harness and can't leave the structure area (so make sure you go to the bathroom ahead of time!!!)

  • There are no cameras allowed in the park. I was given special permission for the purposes of this story. Make sure you have somebody on the ground with a good camera if you want photos.

  • Reserve online ahead of time and make sure your time slot isn't too crowded. I waited until the day before so I could see which time slot might be best. Pay attention to the time slot before/after you as well because those people will be up on the tower with you.

  • Bring sunglasses or a hat. The sun gets bright when you have to look up a lot to clip/un clip your carabiner constantly.

  • Wear closed toe running shoes or athletic footwear.

  • Know why you are here. Are you here to challenge yourself or are you here for the kids? If I am to be honest, I have to admit that I was hoping to get more of a challenge for myself but had to place my son's enjoyment ahead of mine. I couldn't go up to the third level and spent most of my time following him around the easier elements. If you want an epic experience mastering all of the elements, plan a date night or go with friends. Otherwise, be prepared for a fun casual family outing if you are supervising younger kids.

  • If possible, go as a family and take turns supervising the kids/playing solo. This would be win win for everybody. An adult can supervise two kids at the same time while the second adult tries out harder elements on the same level. This is what we'll do the next time! Can't wait to return!!!

Definitely my son's favourite element in the park!

Want to Visit the Snow Valley Aerial Park with your Family?

The park is open 10am to 9pm Monday to Sunday all summer long. It is located in South Edmonton off of White Mud Drive (and very easy to find if coming from Calgary.) We also discovered that it is very easy to find a last minute hotel room near the park if you want to head down for a night while the kids are on summer vacation.

The park will be open well into October which makes me think you could visit over Thanksgiving too!

For full information on the park, please visit the Snow Valley Aerial Park website. 

And, want to camp nearby? The Rainbow Valley Campground is located right beside the aerial park. You can walk out of your trailer or tent and right up to the tower! How perfect would that be?!!

Registered guests of the Rainbow Valley Campground can also take advantage of getting three aerial adventure visits for the price of two! (talk directly to the campground for full details and conditions.)

The Snow Valley Aerial Park, the first of its kind in Canada


Recommended Reading

Field Trippin' to Snow Valley's Aerial Park - Twirls and Travels - For professional photos I wish were mine and a great description of what to expect with younger kids on the lower elements

Snow Valley Aerial Park - Alberta Mamas - For another great family perspective on the park

Explore Edmonton - Official website for Tourism Edmonton 

Snow Valley, we will be back!

Disclaimer: We received free admission in exchange for writing this review. As always all opinions are my own.

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