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Something Different - Bear Grylls Adventure

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by JoshC., Mar 3, 2019.

  1. JoshC.

    JoshC. Member

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    Opening autumn last year, The Bear Grylls Adventure already feels like a forgotten Merlin attraction in some sense. No real fanfare when the attraction opened, and still no advertising, it's a weird scenario. Apparently a big advertising push is coming this spring though, so maybe that will help get the word out there a bit more.

    What is it?

    This is one of the hardest questions to answer, but I'll try. BGA is split into several different activities, and you can pay to do basically any combination of these:
    -Basecamp. 4 activities in one: Survival maze, Escape room, Archery and Assault course
    -High Ropes Course. Outdoor free roam high ropes course
    -Climbing. Indoor rock climbing on several different types of wall
    -iFly. Indoor skydiving experience
    -Snorkelling. Self explanatory
    -Diving. Dive in a cage surrounding by animals, including sharks

    Basecamp is very much the standard go to option, with maybe one or two extra activities added on. To do all activities is an 8-9 hour day.

    I ended up doing this today, opting for Basecamp, the High Ropes Course and Climbing. You choose timeslots for the activities, and we went for Basecamp - 11am, High Ropes - 1pm, Climbing - 3pm.

    Bear Tags
    Bear Tags are the big piece of tech for BGA. It tells you where you need to be at what time, vibrates when it's nearly time, acts as a check in for each activity, your key to a locker (lockers are free, as you're not allowed anything with you on any activity), etc. It also acts as a ticket for scanning photos to you too. You can put your card details on there and use it to pay for stuff too.

    Ours proved to be temperamental during the day, with one dying half way through, sometimes not vibrating at the right time, not scanning, etc. The idea behind them is nice, so hopefully the technology can work out too.

    Basecamp
    Basecamp is the hardest thing to describe, as it's a very mish-mashed experience. You share this experience in groups of 16-20, and is advertised to take 90 minutes, as well as a Bear 'ranger' who guides you round the activities.

    You start off with a Survival Maze:
    upload_2019-3-3_22-17-47.gif
    This is basically like what I'm a Celebrity at Thorpe Park should have been. It's hard to describe it without giving spoilers, but in short it's a 20 minute guided tour through various challenges and activities, based on certain fears and survival elements. For those who have done it, imagine IAC maze, but amped up a level to actually try and test people.

    I'm not quite sure how I felt about it in the end. It's hard to tell whether it's "so bad it's good" or "bad". Our guide was very over-the-top cheesey at times, and again, hard to tell if it made it worse or better. So I finished the first element unconvinced.

    Escape Room
    After leaving the maze and having a photo opportunity (not forced, and you get digital copies included with the Basecamp ticket!), we were then guided around the building towards the escape room.

    The escape room is a 7 minute timed challenge, up to 10 people per team (there's two rooms so no waiting around), which simply requires finding one 4 digit code. The ranger guide gives you a clue at the start, and you have to decode messages, radio clues and writing on the wall to crack the code. Neither team in our group managed it, and it's one of the weirdest escape rooms I've done. I don't like the way it presents clues.

    Rather awkwardly, the escape room leads you to an unthemed, essentially staff area, to get back out.

    Archery
    Archery is archery - it's what you'd expect! You're given a very thorough briefing and demonstration, and then get to shoot 10 arrows. It's good fun, well presented and though it's always nice to have more arrows, this felt like a good fair number.
    [​IMG]

    Assault Course
    Up until now, the Basecamp experience had been linear and we were guided in a group. After Archery, we were told we were free to do the assault course at 'any time', and you get two goes for it. Basecamp is advertised as a 90 minute experience, we were an hour in and the assault course is 25 minutes, most of which is spent warming up and safety talks. With High Ropes booked for 1pm, we decided to have a lunch break, and then do the assault course later.

    We did it at about half 2, and honestly, this is full on! Said to be based off a Royal Marine's assault course, you spend a lot of time before stretching, running on the spot, etc (which in itself was pretty tiring). You're part of a large group, but sent round in groups of 2-4. The assault course is fairly standard fodder - balancing, high/low beams, crawling under nets, climbing up nets, and included a jump over a 6ft wall and ascending/descending monkey bars. You can skip any element you can't do (I tried the monkey bars and failed miserably).

    Rather nicely, you're given an anklet which acts as a timer, so you can see your time. I managed it in about 2m40s, which was in the top third of everyone in the group. Fairly happy with that, but it left me proper exhausted!

    High Ropes Course
    The High Ropes Course takes place outside, in a stand alone structure which - at its highest - is about 60ft tall. To leave the building, you zipline from above the entrance (themed to a helicopter) towards the course - normally the finale of a high ropes course, but still fun nonetheless!

    The course has over 30 different features, spread over 4 levels (and the higher you go, the more challenging the features supposedly get). Despite the odd look, the course was very good fun, and extra challenges were had due to the rain and sometimes quite fast wind! Out of curiosity, I asked if they shut it down in windy conditions, and they said they have a limit, but haven't reached it yet. I managed all but one feature, a particularly tricky spinning log which I didn't fancy due to the weather conditions (and my shaky legs at 60ft!).

    You can either get down by walking back down, or doing a death drop - essentially just being harnessed up and jumping from the third level in a very mini bungee jump like situation. Again, that proved very fun.

    A nice feature of the high ropes course is you can effectively take as long as you want. 90 minutes is the recommended time (including zipline and safety briefings), but there's no one checking the clock on you. I imagine within reason, you can stay up there as long as you like.
    [​IMG]

    Climbing
    Climbing came directly after our go in the assault course. Already with achey arms, and me not having good upper body strength, I knew this wouldn't be great for me.

    The session starts off with 20 minutes of bouldering (low level rock climbing), then 40 minutes of climbing up 8m high walls, of varying difficulties and surfaces. You can pick and choose what you attempt. Despite all my best efforts, and help from the instructors, I simply never got the hang of it. Wasn't totally unexpected, but a shame nonetheless. Maybe it's just me, but I feel like maybe there could have been a couple more very basic / entry level walls? Couple of others in our group struggled too, but ah well.
    [​IMG]

    Food, Retail and Theming
    There's an onsite restaurant which serves hot and cold food, such as pizzas, nachos, sandwiches, etc. Standard Merlin fodder really, but at a reasonable price, with good value meal deals and AP discount still applicable to them! There's also a shop with BGA and standard Bear Grylls merch. Unlike other midway attractions, like Shrek, the prices are very much in line with theme park prices, and you can get AP discount on it all.

    The theming is a weird one. All of the activities are well presented, and within the area there's some very nice themed features and elements. There's good ambient music (the iFly area actually plays the old Air theme!!), and thematic lighting, though perhaps a bit too dim. However, the ceiling is not themed at all, and makes it clear you're in a warehouse. Given you look up quite a bit, it is a bit of an illusion breaker, but something that could be easily - and cheaply - remedied by just some cheap cargo netting! Also, as mentioned, the walkway after the escape room is terrible.

    Other Thoughts
    The Basecamp idea is weird. It is advertised very linearly on the website, but the activities are spread out through the attraction, making it feel a bit clunky. Given the space has been built from the ground up, I'd have thought they could have designed it so one activity leads directly to one another.

    It seemed fairly lively in there, and according to a member of staff we spoke to, about 200-300 people do the high ropes course over a weekend, and 150-200 do the climbing experience. Those numbers seem quite low, so it'll be interesting to see how it develops, especially once advertising kicks in.

    Cost

    Given all the different options available, the cost very much varies. The basecamp experience is £20, which isn't terrible, and add-ons vary and start from £15 (you have to Basecamp I believe). But there's bound to be offers floating around, and they're experimenting with different offers for Annual Passholders (at the moment, Basecamp by itself is £1 for example). So it can be quite an expensive day (all activities together cost £160), but it's not exactly bad for the variety you get. Even better if you get a special offer!

    Overall
    Overall, Bear Grylls Adventure is something complete different, and offers something for everyone. If you're a well-trodden high ropes goer / climber / whatever, those specific probably won't offer much for you, but if not, it's a really fun experience to be able to do a variety of different things. Definitely something worth trying out if it does sound up your street!

    (NB: As phones aren't allowed in the activities and the lighting was low-level, I've just stolen photos off the official website just to give an idea of what stuff looks like!)
     
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  2. Matt N

    Matt N Member

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    Great report! I haven't heard much about BGA, so thanks for the detailed summary of the experience! Sounds like you had fun, but I don't really think it would be my sort of thing.
     
  3. Hixee

    Hixee Flojector Staff Member Administrator Moderator

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    You keep using the term BGA and I'm taken back to my early CF days when Busch Gardens Tampa was called Busch Gardens Africa (and BGW was BGE). :p

    Sounds like an interesting day out, actually. Not one I've heard of at all, but with a good mix of different activities and a full day's worth of stuff, this could be a good contender to the Go Ape type attractions.
     
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  4. Benenen

    Benenen New Member

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    I visited a few months ago and had a lovely afternoon here. The basecamp feels padded out, you spend a lot of time being briefed and not a huge amount of time doing the actual activities but it's a fun two hours and really varied. Like you, I hadn't the foggiest of what to do in the escape rooms and neither did anyone else in my group, at least the slide was fun. Survival maze was a good laugh, my guide was hamming it up too but there was a good mix between silliness and scariness. Definitely more exciting and quicker paced than IaC. The assault course was fairly challenging but we spent at least 20 minutes watching the brief video, doing the warmup and waiting for groups ahead to start and then the course itself was over in 2 minutes.

    The only add on I did was the high ropes, I liked how once you were harnessed up and clipped on you could roam about freely without supervision. Oh, and that log was absolutely terrifying, I tried it no hands and slipped off instantly when it span.

    Overall I like this place, the theming and ambience along with the tags (which worked perfectly for me) gave it a high end feel compared to say a climbing centre or Go Ape and if you have the money you can spend all day doing loads of cool stuff. I managed to get a significant discount through my job but I wouldn't have bothered if that wasn't the case. As fun as the basecamp was it didn't have enough content for £20 and I can't remember how much the extra stuff was.
     
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  5. JoshC.

    JoshC. Member

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    We didn't have a slide!? That probably explains why we left through some unthemed area which looked like it was for staff only - slide must have been closed. That's a shame, as it must be a pretty decent sized slide! :(
     
  6. Benenen

    Benenen New Member

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    It was huge! There were two escape rooms back to back which were connected by a slide taking you back to the ground level. Both rooms made no sense so when our group got to the second one and realised the logic would be equally bizarre we only half arsed it. I was just watching the clock waiting for it to be over so I could have a go on the assault course. The slide itself was wild, you had to shuffle forward along a flat section (which was completely dark) and then the steepness started instantly so you had to sit on the edge then drop off a little ledge. The bottom of my shirt went up at this point and I got a nasty friction mark up my back which lasted for a few days after. I remember wondering at the time how long the slide would last because everyone in my group got some sort of bump or knock from it but equally it's a shame something like that would have to close at a so called adventure centre.
     
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  7. FistedColossus

    FistedColossus New Member

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    I worked at BGA through construction until early opening. The escape rooms are poorly designed to the point none of us could work it out even without a time limit, surprised they haven't changed it yet!

    Agree the High Ropes are brilliant and log is indeed terrifying.

    Not surprised they aren't using the slides at the moment. By Merlin standards they are a bloody death trap, as you can see from this pic I took they're very steep ...

    [​IMG]
     
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  8. Benenen

    Benenen New Member

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    Yikes, look at the size of those. Could easily have been marketed as a fifth base camp activity!
     
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