daily deals Goodbye Sunday: New CN Tower attraction to offer hands-free, outside pod walk
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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

New CN Tower attraction to offer hands-free, outside pod walk

Extreme junkies take note: you’ll soon be able to take a hands-free walk along the outside of the CN Tower’s main pod — 356 metres up in the air.

EdgeWalk is billed as the highest full circle walk on a 1.5-metre ledge in the world.

Similar to another attraction in Auckland, New Zealand, visitors will be attached to an overhead safety rail with a trolley and harness system and will travel in groups of six to eight.

“Trained EdgeWalk guides will encourage visitors to push their personal limits, allowing those who dare to lean back over Toronto, with nothing but air beneath them,” states a press release.

It is set to open August 1; tickets go on sale June 1. The tour costs $175, including keepsake video, photo and “certificate of achievement.” It lasts one-and-a-half hours, with about 20-to-30 minutes spent on the walk itself. It will open during what is the CN Tower’s 35th anniversary year.

“I’m trying to psych myself up slowly to try this. It will be on my bucket list,” said Mark Laroche, president and CEO of the Canada Lands Company, owner and operator of the CN Tower. He said the idea came from a mid-level manager of the CN Tower, and was relayed to Mr. Laroche by its chief operating officer Jack Robinson. “You may think I’m nuts, but we have this thing,” Mr. Laroche recalled him saying.

“There is a wow factor. It is exciting, it is something new, something we think will give another buzz to Toronto.

Mr. Laroche said staff spent about a year preparing a business plan, conducting market research, visiting similar attractions around the world and designing an attraction that isn’t for the faint of heart. “You’re walking on a grate that is kind of transparent and there are no hand rails at all so it’s for the thrill seekers,” agreed Mr. Laroche. CN Tower’s engineers supervised the design and build to make sure it is exciting and safe; Mr. Laroche noted that visitors will not be able to unlock themselves from the attraction once it is engaged.

Toronto’s tourism suffered during the recession, so that the number of visitors to the CN Tower is slightly down (at about 1.5-million a year) even though its share of the Toronto attraction market has gone up, said Mr. Laroche.

“If you don’t have new stuff once in a while, people will be like why go to Toronto?”

National Post

Not so long ago, it was enough of a thrill to ride the elevator to the top of the CN Tower, or to visit Las Vegas or Macau or the Grand Canyon. But apparently these attractions no longer produce enough adrenaline to keep a certain class of tourist happy. The CN Tower is attempting to address that need with EdgeWalk, but it is not the first.

The Macau Tower offers a range of thrill-seeking attractions, from a bungee jump, to scaling 100 metres of its mast, to its own Skywalk, in which visitors walk around the main outer rim of the tower, 233 metres above the ground, strapped to an overhead rail system and without handrails.
The Sky Tower in Auckland, N.Z., features a similar attraction: a 1.2-metre-wide walkway around its circumference, 192 metres above the ground. There aren’t any handrails here either. It is billed as “the ideal corporate team-building activity” and a “thrilling tourist adventure.”
Not nearly as daredevil as the the other attractions, the Grand Canyon Skywalk still isn’t for the faint of heart. The glass-bottomed observation deck spans 21 metres over the canyon’s rim, 1,220 metres high.
Since 1998, a company called BridgeClimb has been offering guided climbs of the famed Sydney Harbour Bridge. Climbers can take a three-and-a-half hour journey along catwalks and ladders on the inner or outer arch of the bridge to the summit, which is 134 metres above the harbour. An express version gets the climb done in just over two hours. A company called Recreational Safety sought permission to install a bungee jump off the bridge, which would have upped its wow factor. Australian authorities rejected the application last year, presumably deciding that tourists aren’t ready for that much excitement. Yet.
Las Vegas’ Sky Jump is a “controlled free fall,” similar to a vertical zip line, which drops people from a launching pad 260 metres above the Las Vegas Strip. Jumpers are harnessed in and attached to a cable that is connected to a “descender machine,” and which slows the fall as the person approaches the ground.
Natalie Alcoba, National Post

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