You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

#JOM! GO: Thrills, spills and high anxiety

New Straits Times logo New Straits Times 1/10/2020 Hanna Hussein
a man riding a surfboard in the water: Dare to go on the The Longest? © Provided by New Straits Times Dare to go on the The Longest?

There are theme parks and there's The Escape Penang, which oozes unconventional fun in a natural setting, writes

Hanna Hussein

IT'S only 9am but there are already a few vehicles parked at the compound. A long line of visitors are excitedly waiting for the theme park to open, we included.

But The Escape Penang, located in Teluk Bahang, is unlike other conventional amusement theme parks. There are no roller-coaster rides. Nothing like that at all.

There are two reasons for the hype. One, the park is owned by Sim Choo Kheng — counted among the who's who in the theme park business — who founded Sim Leisure Group, one of the world's leading theme park consultancies based in Dubai that has been designing and building theme parks worldwide for more than 20 years.

Some of his impressive projects that I have been to are Motiongate Dubai, Bollywood Dubai and Ski Dubai, all located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Bringing the experience and fun back to his roots, The Escape Penang draws from his childhood past. The park actually encourages physical wellness and reconnection with Nature.

Through fun activities, with an emphasis on self-directed and self-empowered play, Sim wants visitors to his park to experience "Low Tech, High Fun". And this is the number two reason.

Curious, my friends and I feel that we have to check it out ourselves. But first thing first — the tickets!

GREAT CONVENIENCE

There are a few options — one-day ticket, two-day ticket and even a one-week ticket.

You can purchase these at the counter but for more savings, it's better to purchase them online in advance as you can get up to 30 per cent discount.

As it didn't occur to us earlier to do just that, we have to queue for them.

Luckily, the line moves quickly as the staff are efficient, friendly and helpful. We not only walk away with our tickets but we also get a map of the park and some tips from the park employee.

Visitors are required to wear proper attire at all zones, namely Adventureplay, Gravityplay and Waterplay.

At the dry park, one is required to put on proper active wear and sport shoes. At the water park, we also need to suit up in swimwear.

Do bear in mind that jerseys, boxers, t-shirts, sweatpants, non-swim headscarves are among the clothing that are not allowed at the water park.

No worries if you have come unprepared, attire-wise. Visitors can rent sport shoes, rash guard and even burkinis (or Muslimah swimwear). Prices start from as low as RM10. You can also rent a towel for RM9. Fret not — all the items are regularly cleaned and sanitised.

Other equipment and facilities available at the park are tents, lockers, toilets, changing rooms and plenty of water dispenser stations for you to fill up your water bottles.

And, yes, you are allowed to bring your own flasks and tumblers. Convenient, right?

MORNING KICK-OFF

All geared up in suitable clothing and trainers, we head straight to the Adventureplay zone.

"The park is huge. Where should we start first?" asks one of my friends.

Looking at the map, I randomly suggest the Aerobat. Trying out the trapeze is on my bucket list and this is my chance!

The Aerobat offers two heights — seven metres and a slightly lower one for beginners.

Before we start, we have to watch a short safety video.

We are required to take off our shoes, tuck in our t-shirts and wear an acrobatic lunge belt.

The trainer guides us on what to do and we practise at the training base. After a short while, we proceed to try out the first trapeze set.

The trainer climbs first and I follow closely behind. When I reach the top, I look down and my heart skips a beat. It's high, even though it's the beginner set!

"You'll do fine. Just follow the instructions," he says assuringly while he secures the safety harness onto my belt.

My left hand holds the side beam. I bend my body a little to reach the swinging bar with my right hand.

Once I get a hold on the bar, I lift my left hand to hold the swing bar. At this point, I feel like I am bending 45 degrees away from the platform.

I am still firmly standing, though in a squat position, as the trainer is holding on to my belt. Somehow, he is still not letting it go just yet.

"Whenever you are ready," he urges.

I bend my knee, make the jump and depart the platform. As I swing (in terror, if I may add), I hear the instruction "legs up now", which means I have to quickly put my legs up, cling them on the bar and lock my knees.

That executed successfully, the trainer then asks me to "let go and arch back".

The next step is to put my hands back on the bar. I follow obediently, continuously swinging my legs front, back and front again before I end with a somersault.

Yay, I feel like a pro, ahem, if I may say so myself.

But let me add that in the midst of it all earlier were a bit of panic and some terrified screams.

Feeling confident, I ask the trainer for a second attempt. This time, I am more focused and surprisingly, it goes by

swiftly!

The trainer tells me that I am now qualified to go on the higher trapeze. This challenge involves swinging and holding another trapeze "artiste".

However, as this activity is only conducted at noon, my friends and I decide to give it a miss as we want to move on to the next zone.

Next on our list is the Jungle Swing, which is of course inspired by Tarzan.

Basically, you will be holding a long rope (with safety harness attached, of course) and swing from one tree to another — just like Tarzan.

It's exhilarating as the swing goes back and forth and you are surrounded by lush greenery.

The star of Adventureplay is definitely Monkey Business, a challenging rope course with over 100 challenges and ziplines all over the jungle.

There are three levels to try — easy, medium and hard — and each level has a few routes.

All these will take a lot of your time to complete. I highly recommend Level 3, especially for those looking for thrills!

There are at least 20 attractions alone in Adventureplay that you must try.

Oh, and there's also Gravityplay, which is a smaller zone offering two must-try activities — the Hill Rider and Tubby Racer — and both require to go on the first-ever chairlift in Malaysia.

MEAL BREAK

It's almost 2pm when we complete our Adventureplay activities (well, we did not actually manage to try everything due to time constraints)

After half a day of adventures, we are hungry and exhausted. With two food courts to choose from, we pick the one at the Waterplay zone where there's also an al-fresco eatery serving local and international fare.

As the park uses cashless transactions for its F&B outlets, we have to go to an electronic top-up counter to purchase an e-wallet code.

This code will allow you to buy food and drinks, as well as rent lockers.

It's super easy. Using the code, we can top-up and get refunds at the end of the day when we leave the park.

We order a meatballs rice set, some fried chicken, a chicken burger with fries and a rice set.

Prices are reasonable, with the cost averaging less than RM20 per person.

THE ULTIMATE FINISH

After our scrumptious lunch, we head to the changing rooms to put on our swimwear.

The first ride to kick off our Waterplay adventure is The Longest.

We grab a sharing tube and carry it all the way to the chairlift. Yes, you have to take the chairlift to enjoy this ride.

Well, there's a reason why it is called The Longest. At 1.111km in length, the ride holds the Guinness World Record as the world's longest tube water slide!

It's not scary at all. The slide is a fun, exhilarating ride that goes for almost four minutes that gives you a beautiful perspective of the rainforest.

If you're looking for some thrilling slides, there are two which deserve mention and definitely for the brave.

The Banana Flip provides a launch pad for you to soar into the air for you to show off your moves in mid-flight. However this is only open for those who can swim as they have to dive into a really deep pool.

Also at the same deep pool, there is Atan's Jump, suitable for those who love diving. Here there will also be diving and swimming shows conducted by a professional.

If scary rides aren't your cup of tea, there are family slides such as the Family Twister, Tubby Rapids and Tubby Tunnels.

There are also single slides to try out, such as Speed Racer, Super Looper and Mega Drop. The little ones can go for Tots Pool and Play House.

After trying out the adventurous slides, we cool down at a few spots such as

the Lazy River, AK Academy, Escape Club

as well as the Wave Ball before calling

it a day.

FAST FACTS

THE ESCAPE PENANG

828 Jalan Teluk Bahang, 11050 Teluk Bahang, Penang

TEL 04 881 1106

EMAIL info@escape.my

WEBSITE www.escape.my

PAY One-day all-park access RM142 (adult), RM94.40 (child) and free for Malaysians aged above 61 (on presentation of IC at the ticketing counter when accompanied by a paying guest). Get more discounts online.

HOUR 10am-6pm (Tuesdays-Sundays). Closed on Monday.

nhanna@nst.com.my

© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd

More From New Straits Times

New Straits Times
New Straits Times
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon