Choose Your Challenge at The Mainland’s New Adventure Park

Get the Adrenaline Flowing With Aerial Activities and Extreme Go Karting
By GINA G. SCALA | Aug 07, 2019

Stafford Township — If there’s a choice between speed and soaring to new heights, I am always going to opt for speed. So, it was natural for me to volunteer to check out The Mainland Adventure Park and its Extreme Go Kart Track in Manahawkin. I was less certain about the aerial course, zip lines and climbing wall, but that’s what friends are for, right?

Safe Speed. I spent a chunk of the summer working with the U.S. Coast Guard and was constantly reminded that boaters should operate at safe speed. The same applies for motorists; that’s why there are posted speed limits on roadways. But who doesn’t like to kick things into high gear and let loose, wind blowing in their hair, every once in a while? It’s almost a certainty that’s not going to happen on local roadways during the summer. It can happen on the Extreme Go Kart Track, though.

There are more than 1,000 feet of twists and turns along the go-kart track, which runs nearly parallel to Route 72 – not that it’s noticeable from the track thanks to the landscaping. That’s just one of the features that helps keep the track operating at a safe speed.

Sensors are embedded in certain sections of the track to either speed up the course or slow the karts down. Hint: don’t be startled when the kart goes from fast to almost not moving at the exit to the course; it’s designed that way so when coming off the track the sitting karts are not struck at a high rate of speed.

The ride out of the gate seems slow, but that first stretch of track when the speed picks up is just the beginning of the adrenaline rush that comes from outside racing with family or friends. As the track winds around, pick your speed and your adversary, but remember there is safety built in every step of the way. The track operators can slow down every kart on the track and even stop them completely, if necessary.

Ray Cerwiniski, a project manager for Mercer Management, which owns and operates The Mainland, selected state-of-the-art go-karts himself after doing extensive research. There are two varieties of karts. One is for an individual driver; the other for a party of two. Remember, the track is safe for young(ish) children so it might be fun to teach them defensive driving early (this is New Jersey, after all).

Every kart is thoroughly checked every morning prior to the track being opened to the public and there’s a mechanic room on-site, Cerwiniski said recently. Each kart has its own electrical panel, too.

Remember to wear closed-toed shoes, limit loose-fitting clothing, and pull back long hair. You don’t want to exclude yourself from the all the fun, do you? And don’t worry, the wind will still blow your hair.

Safety messages are routinely played over a loud-speaker system as a reminder to drivers.

High-Rise. In full disclosure, I have what I like to think of as an unnatural fear of heights. I don’t even like step stools. So, when a friend and co-worker stepped up to try out the aerial course, complete with rock climbing wall and zip lines, well, who was I to turn her down?

There are more than 50 activities over three levels of what can only be thought as of as an obstacle course. Each activity begins in the tower, but the safety begins before that. Helmet, check; harness, check; safety gloves, check; highly trained guides, check. That’s all before being allowed into the gated area and climbing the plank to the tower.

Those brave enough to take the aerial challenge are connected, via a harness, from the moment they step through the gate at the start of the plank. There are guides at every level of the tower, with extensive training, including rescues. That hasn’t happened often, but it has happened.

It takes over two hours to do every activity stemming from the tower, which include the 50-foot climbing wall with three separate climbing routes and four extended zip lines that take high-flyers over the go-kart track and almost as far as the Holiday Inn sign. The final zip line back to the tower is over 300 feet of soaring before coming back to the tower.

“It’s a lot more tiring than I expected. You can adjust the difficulty, so everyone has a chance to do it,” Jackie Brown, who lives in Idaho during the year but has roots in Ship Bottom and every year spends part of her summer there, said of the aerial course. “If you’re sick of working out at the gym, do this.”

Challenge By Choice. No adventure is limited by age, but rather by height; if you can reach it you can achieve it, generally speaking. Still, for children ages 4 to 10 there is a play fort at the lowest level of the tower complete with safety railings and obstacles that will get the heart pumping.

“It’s awesome,” said Colin Fury, 10, who did the full aerial course with his mother, Kathryn, and sister Lauren, 12, while on vacation from Westfield.

Lauren echoed her younger brother, saying it was fun because “it’s fun to have an experience that is exciting.”

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