One of the great things about Panama City Beach is that in addition to having gorgeous beaches and emerald green waters, there are tons of fun things to do OFF the beach. We all know and love Pier Park, we have a blast racing go-carts and playing miniature golf, and now we have a whole new adventure on Panama City Beach, WonderWorks.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Isn’t WonderWorks that really awesome all inclusive entertainment-plex in Pigeon Forge, TN that has ‘over 120 interactive adventures that will challenge your mind and body?'” Yep, that’d be the one! And, it’s right across from Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
Managing owner, Mike Walsingham was gracious enough to host my inner child for an afternoon of thrills, flight simulations, “Far-Out Art”, and a towering ropes challenge course that brought me more than 30 feet in the air.
When you arrive at WonderWorks, you’re greeted with an unusual result of what is supposed to be a synthetic natural disaster gone bad, then turned good again. The story goes something like this:
“This once top-secret WonderWorks™ laboratory was located in the Bermuda Triangle, when it was ripped from its foundation by a horrific tornado and carried thousands of miles away to Panama City Beach, Florida, where it landed on a surf shop!
The tornado was created by scientists from around the world trying to find answers to the unexplainable. During their experiment, something went awry and the power of the tornado was unleashed throughout the laboratory. Remarkably, all of the experiments remained intact and functional – and that’s how it all began!”
When you arrive, you’re greeted with what looks like a whole upside down building. surely an architectural marvel, this new landmark is not something you can miss. When you walk in, the lobby has stair on the ceiling, shredded and ripped steel I-beams and a ceiling that looks like a floor.
Once you get your ticket and enter the attraction, you are “inverted” as you walk through a vertigo-inducing spinning chamber that’s enough to confuse your senses and prepare you for what lies ahead.
The first room you come to has all sorts of interesting facts about natural disasters. If you’ve ever wanted to see what it’s like to weather 75 mph winds, just step into the Hurricane Shack. Once the fan clicks on, hold onto your hat and close your mouth, hurricane force winds will tear right through the chamber.
The next room is the Physical Challenge room. With all sorts of physical challenges including a pull up system using pulley’s, a bed of nails you can actually lie on, a basketball and baseball challenge and the thrilling 360 Bike that spins you around and around in a vertical g-force inducing ride.
After climbing and touring all the rooms, you’re met with a grand finale in the challenging ropes course. This three story rope obstacle has everything from 20 foot spans of holding onto nothing but 1 inch ropes dangling from the above-brace to single 4 inch planks that you have to balance-walk across with nothing in between the beam you are walking on the the floor 25 feet below. Don’t feat though, a safety harness that is connected to the railing above you keeps you from a perilous fall. I had the great pleasure of putting my physical strength to the test and had a blast balancing, pulling and climbing my way through.
Other attractions in WonderWorks include:
- Lazer Tag – Each guest will be given a vest before entering the 3,000-square-foot, lighted Lazer Tag maze. It’s an exciting, heart-pounding adrenalin rush using the latest innovative laser technology.
- WonderWorks Wonder Coaster – Each guest will become the pilot and designer of this virtual roller coaster where they can choose coaster segments to suit personal preferences – loops, corkscrews, flips, barrels, spirals, drops, tunnels, travel backwards, or leave it up to the computer to create a mystery design.
- Mindball Mental Challenge – Mindball pits two participants in a unique mental contest. Participants square off at opposite ends of a table. Each participant is seated and wears a headband that measures the brain’s activity. The more calm the brainwave – the better. The round Mindball is placed in the center of the table – equal distance from each participant. Mindball relies on calmness to measure a participant’s success. The goal is to be more relaxed than your opponent, in order to move a physical ball away from you and into your opponent’s goal, ultimately winning by relaxing.
- Far Out Illusion Gallery – When you enter WonderWorks Far Out Gallery you’ve taken a step into a world of unique perception and perspective. You will marvel at the dimensional artwork where the top may appear to be the bottom and vice-versa. The Far Out Illusion Gallery offers a palette where the inexplicable will come to life and the unusual will become the norm.
If you’re looking for something to do other than go to the beach, WonderWorks is fun for the whole family and offers a whole day of thrills and entertainment. I spent two hours doing only a few things, a whole day is well worth the $22.99 adult admission price.
|The Works (includes ropes course and lazer tag)||$25.99||$21.99|
|X-treme Combo (includes WonderWorks, ropes course, lazer tag and Ripley’s and the 4D Moving Theater)||$40.99||$33.99|
|Ropes Course Only||$9.99|
|Lazer Tag Only (first game)||$7.99|
|Lazer Tag (replay game)||$2.99|
Hours of operation are 9 am until everyone leaves, but usually midnight.
WonderWorks is located at the intersection of Front Beach Road, Middle Beach Road and North Thomas Drive, same as Wal-Mart, Ripley’s Believe it or Not! and right down from Laketown Wharf. If you go, be sure you tell them that you read about it on PCBDaily.com!