Remember last summer when we were talking about a really cool new attraction in Panama City Beach, Panama Dunes? We were marveling the novelty of having a Dune Buggy track that was accompanied by other adventuresome attractions. Well, they’re opening this week.
Originally they had planned on opening last summer, then it got moved to Labor Day, then put off until this week. The setbacks were related to a variety of things that come up when building something that’s never been done before, and the winter hiatus was to ensure a strong start with the 2011 tourism season. But, with the winter months put aside for planning, the owners decided to launch their grand opening with a huge BANG with much more to offer then they had originally planned.
Here’s what they’re doing.
This is the pit and staging area. Under the green shelter will rest the sleeping Dune Buggies. You’ll receive your orientation and get strapped in for your adventure here. Just beyond the shelter is a platform that overlooks the track. You’ll receive training there. From start to finish, the Dune Buggy experience will be around 30 to 45 minutes, including training, etc.
When I first saw these, what I envisioned was crowds of people hanging from the railings cheering on their favorite buggy racer in a scene reminiscent of the pod races in Star Wars Episode I. Not so, but what WILL be there will be a challenging ropes obstacle course. This course will have varying levels of difficulty with the final stages only being open to those that are competent enough to navigate the toughest of routes. This course will wind around and over the racing dune buggies. Never fear, though, course challengers will be secured into a harness system that will keep them on their feet, or at least off the ground.
This picture was taken from the training and staging platform for the ropes course described in the previous picture. The pit you’re looking at is where the foundation for the 4 story zip-line tower will go. Beyond that, you can see the County Pier, giving you some indication of where this adventure park is. Can you imagine the views you’ll have from the zip line?
The dune buggy track will wind and turn around, traversing 5 acres. The thing that’s really cool about this is that you’re not stuck making only right-hand or left-hand turns all the time – this track varies giving you the feel that you’re not stuck with some amateur child’s playground. The owners expect about a two to three year maturation period for the landscaping. They’re planing vegetation that will grow up over the fencing and barrier walls that line the track giving you a feel of really being down in an offroad track. You’ll feel like your racing through the jungle, next to the beach.
This image shows you how many of these ropes obstacle course exchange points there will be – 11 total.
This is looking back over the track from the west side. The cluster you see in the middle is the ropes obstacle course and to the right is the staging/pit area and training platform.
This is the beginnings of the zip tower. There will be three legs of the zip line, taking you in a triangle across the Dune Buggy track. The starting point will be 40 feet in the air and will overlook the Gulf.