|The kids are planning to ESCAPE again.|
ESCAPE is Penang's new theme park, and I predict that it's destined to become quite popular with both tourists and locals. The first stage, AdventurePlay, opened a few weeks ago, and my kids were eager to try it out. We discovered a place where active types can get their thrills climbing around in the great outdoors. There's a ropes course, ziplining, inner tubing, leaping from towers and more. No giant costumed characters or fantasy lands here. At ESCAPE, Mother Nature takes center stage.
When you first enter the park, Monkey Business immediately beckons you to play. This ropes course has 80 challenges spread over 8 courses and three levels of difficulty. Test your agility and balance with each step. Crawl through the barrel or fly down the rope on the zip-line. I liked that all the courses started and ended on the same tower. That way, my kids could be on different courses and levels, but I could still keep track of them overhead. You clip your harness onto the safety rope at the beginning and stay on it until you're at the end. No worries about people remembering to properly switch carabiners at each station like other ropes courses we've done. Bringing gloves (or buying them at the gift shop) would have cut down on blisters forming after multiples times through the course.
|Are you ready for some Monkey Business?|
Have you ever wanted to release your inner Spider-Man? At Gecko Tower, race up the side of a building, using whatever footholds and handholds you can find. This isn't your typical rock climbing wall. Instead, you're grabbing on to plumbing, air-conditioning units, window grates, and wooden siding. Watch out for the boxing gloves coming out to hit you! Hubby easily trounced our eldest boy the first time up the most difficult side. But our boy had the endurance, and was able to return for more climbs long after Dad called it quits. He even had enough energy to scurry up a tree at Go Ape. An auto-belay system keeps you safe on both activities, and you have the fun of rappeling down from the top.
|On Gecko's Tower, my boy had the advantage of youth and no boxing gloves hitting him.|
If your thrill seeking personality still isn't satisfied, take a giant leap off Atan's Tower. Do you want to fall from 20 meters up in the air or merely 13 meters? After strapping on the harness and making the jump, there's a quick but controlled descent to the ground. You never feel like you're in a free fall or experience the snap and bounce of bungy jumping. My 7-year-old girl and teen boy gave it a try. When they were teasing their brother about not going, I said, "He seems to have inherited his mother's sense of self-preservation, unlike you two lunatics." Note that you'll have to pay an extra RM20 for this activity.
|Would you jump off Atan's Leap? Would you let your kids?|
Tubby Racers is another fun, family activity. Slide downhill, having faith that you won't slam into anything because you can't see the bottom from the top, and you're constantly spinning around to face backwards. There are two straight slides and a curvy one. If you want to ride together, grab the bigger inner tube. Keep in mind that you must first haul the inner tube up to the top of the hill. These are heavier than the ones at water parks. Even my very fit, personal trainer friend found that only a few times dragging both her own and her young daughter's tubes uphill was her limit. Note that children must be at least 6 years old to ride.
|Who's the fastest downhill Tubby Racer (a.k.a. Summer Tubing)?|
What about the younger kids?
While most of the activities are geared towards primary school-aged kids up through active adults, there are a few things to entertain the younger tots who are tagging along with the group. At ZoomBug, kids wiggle the handles of their go-kart back and forth to propel it around the race track.
|It's time to ZoomBug around the track.|
Don a helmet with a headlamp at Foxy Burrows and explore this cavelike tunnel. Parents aren't allowed inside, but you can keep watch on the closed circuit TV outside. My teen wanted to try both these activities but discovered that the downside to a growth spurt is that he's now too tall to do some kiddie fun.
The Tots Trail and Cubs Play make up a nice playground. It's in a shaded area and is ideal for kids ages 3 to 10 years old.
|Younger kids can have fun climbing and jumping at Tots Trail and Cubs Play.|
Everyone, even the grown ups, can try their hand at panning for "gold" at Discovery Dig. Although, I think my kids were expecting at least Fool's Gold (mica) and not gold painted pebbles.
|Gold rush time at Discovery Dig|
I bet that this place will become popular for parties and corporate events. Two party rooms are available that hold 20-50 people. Both are air-conditioned and have a climbing wall. I also saw another party tent set up outside by the hawker center. My friend had her child's birthday party here. She gives it thumbs up for service and fun but also said it was pricey. Treetop Cabanas set away from the hustle and bustle of the park are available for day rental.
|Your personal treehouse for RM150-300 per day.|
What makes ESCAPE an eco-park?
Obviously, all the park activities encourage folks to enjoy exercising in the great outdoors. But ESCAPE's commitment to the environment goes beyond this. They've taken steps to reduce the park's negative impact on its surroundings. I noticed that the buildings at the front had a layer of grass sod on the roofs. Why? It provides insulation so the buildings are cooler inside and reduces heat reflected off the building so that they won't become a heat island. Rain barrels collect water for re-use. Gravel paths instead of cement ones are water permeable so that rain soaks into the ground instead of merely running off. It's one of the best examples of environmentally aware development that I've seen in Malaysia.
Details and Tips:
What else do you need to know?
- ESCAPE is located past Batu Ferringhi in Teluk Bahang, just before the Butterfly Farm.
- Plan on spending 2-6 hours at the park. We actually hung out there for 6.5 hours, doing activities over and over again.
- Arrive dressed for an active day outdoors. Wear sports shoes -- no slip-ons or open-toed shoes. Tie back long hair, and secure headscarves. Leave the dangling jewelry at home. And ladies, remember that you'll be high in the air with people looking up at you, so skip the skirts and dresses.
- I think I saw a shoe rental in the gift shop if you wore the wrong footwear.
- MyKad holders and Malaysian residents (e.g. expats) receive a 20% discount on admission. You must have proof of residency. They accepted hubby's business card with a local address as proof. My Maybank card and school library card were rejected as proof.
- Everyone, ages 4 yrs and up, pays to enter, even if you plan on just watching.
- An ESCAPE cash card available at the entrance is the only form of payment accepted inside the park. You can top it up inside the park and are refunded the unused money at the exit.
- ESCAPE offers both typical hawker center fare and Western food as well as ice cream, cendol and beverages. Most entrees were RM8-15.
- Lockers are RM5 per day for multiple entry.
- You pay extra for temporary tatoos (RM5-20), face painting (RM15-30), the dunk tank, and Atan's Leap (RM20).
- If your zipline comes to a halt midway, don't panic. Someone will come and rescue you, pulling you back to the platform.
- A surua is located within the park near the entrance.
- One complaint: There are no good places to take shelter during one of Penang's frequent downpours. Time for an extended toilet visit or gift shop browsing, perhaps?
Flying Through the Trees at Phuket Tree Adventure
Penang Butterfly Farm
This post is part of Travel Photo Thursday on Budget Traveler's Sandbox. Check it out for more around-the-world travel inspiration.