The St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park celebrated the opening of the parkâ€™s newest attraction, a 40-foot controlled free fall adventure at 10 a.m. Friday, May 23.
The Python Challenge at Crocodile Crossing incorporates the newest technology in adventure recreation to offer thrill-seekers the adrenaline rush of a fast open-air descent from a custom-designed tower high above the canopy of the park.
To inaugurate the new attraction, St. Augustine Mayor Joe Boles took the first plunge.
Python Challenge is the latest addition to the Alligator Farmâ€™s popular Crocodile Crossing attraction, a 7-acre zip line course offering park visitors an aerial eco-adventure and a unique opportunity to view crocodiles, alligators, birds and other animals.
Visitors who accept the Python Challenge will scale a ladder to the top of the launch tower before strapping in to a coiled lanyard equipped with magnetic eddy current braking technology. Then, with a heart-stopping step off the edge of the platform, each visitor is plunged into a controlled free fall that ends with a safe, non-jarring return to the ground.
â€œThis is very new technology, and weâ€™re one of only a handful of parks around the country that have installed a free-fall of this kind,â€ said Scott Brown, Crocodile Crossing manager.
â€œI found out about it at a challenge course technology seminar, and we all agreed that Python Challenge would make a perfect addition to the thrills of Crocodile Crossing. Itâ€™s guaranteed to get your heart pumping.â€
The ornate carvings at the top of the Python Challenge launch towers were created by Tommy Oleson, a well-known wood artist whose works are visible throughout Northeast Florida and beyond. The free-jump harness and braking technology was provided by Head Rush Technologies, a Colorado-based designer and manufacturer of high-intensity thrill ride products and technologies.
The Python Challenge will kick off Memorial Day weekend. The attraction is open to the public daily at theÂ park, 999 Anastasia Blvd. Zoo hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Call 904-824-3337 or go toÂ alligatorfarm.com.