Add some ‘zip’ to your bucket list

By MIKE CHAIKEN

EDITIONS EDITOR

Have you ever leapt off a 30-plus story tower?

Now’s your chance. Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket has launched its new HighFlyer zipline.

The attraction brings you to the top of the Fox Tower, and then you glide down to the Mashuntucket Pequot Museum and Research Center— 3,750 feet down and away.

For Foxwoods, senior vice president of resort operations Jason Guyot said the zipline boosts the resort’s visibility around the world.

The HighFlyer zipline becomes a “bucket list item” for tourists from all across the globe as well as Connecticut and New England, said Guyot.

The zipline will carry you down those 33 stories of the tower—or 350 feet up— and over the woods to the museum at a speed between 40 to 60 miles per mile- depending on the guest’s weight, said HighFlyer’s owner Brian Stewart. The trip itself takes about a one minute and 25 seconds. Stewart said they expect to carry up to 80 people an hour on the zipline.

“It’s one of a kind experience,” said Stewart.

Stewart said the zipline at Foxwoods is one of only two in the world that starts at the top of a hotel—and the only one in North America. The only other zipline that starts from on top of a hotel is in Dubai.

“It’s a phenomenal ride,” said Felix Rappaport, president and CEO of Foxwoods, who strapped on the zipline’s special safety flight suit and was one of the first people to leap off the tower on media day.

Standing on the roof of the 30-floor Fox Tower, plus another 20 to 30 feet higher on the metal platform where the zipline is launched, the view is intimidating. The museum is a good distance away. You’re also many, many, many feet above the trees that lay between the tower and the museum (some of the trees have been topped off for clearance.) Although the press day was held on a gray day, and the forest green had been stunted by the lingering cold weather, it’s easy to imagine the lush view when New England is at its greenest.

The quoted speed of the ride on HighFlyer, 40 to 60 miles per hour, seems daunting. But in reality, gliding down the line, the speed is not as crushing as one would think. There was a wind on the media day so there was a little buffeting side to side, but nothing stomach churning. And with all of the safety equipment strapping you in, you felt tight and secure. You probably would feel more ill at ease on a roller coaster than on the zip line.

Rappaport told the press that the zipline is all part of a plan to transform Foxwoods from primarily a gaming facility to a world class destination resort. Last year, he said Thrill Tower, which houses the Sky Drop and Sky Launch, opened (and is now open for the 2018 season). Next, he said, Foxwoods will be opening an indoor go-kart track.

The zipline also serves another purpose, said Rappaport. It helps tie the Fox Tower campus to the museum campus. Foxwoods is hoping the zipline raises the profile of the museum.

In an interview after the press conference, Rappaport said the idea for a zipline in southeastern Connecticut began when he was visiting Las Vegas, which has ziplines that run through some of the resorts. He liked the idea of bringing one to Connecticut. However, the zipline moved closer to fruition when he realized that it would be a good way to introduce guests to the museum.

Guyot then approached Stewart and HighFlyer about building a zipline for southeastern Connecticut.

Stewart said when planning began for the zipline, there were architectural and engineering hurdles to overcome. Firefighting equipment had to be moved around on the top floor of Fox Tower. Electrical equipment had to be moved. They also had to transport by hand and up a stairwell the 78,000 pounds of metal needed to construct the zipline tower. Then there was the engineering of laying the line itself. The cable weighs 105,000 pounds, about the equivalent of 26 Chevrolet Suburban SUVs. It had to constructed on both ends to handle the torque on the tower and the landing site.

“This isn’t like doing a zip line at a resort where there is a mattress at the end to stop you,” said Stewart.

The HighFlyer zipline at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket is open 12 to 6 p.m. until the summer when the hours will be extended to 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

For more information and for booking, go to www.foxwoodshighflyer.com

Guests ride down the HighFlyer zipline at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket. (FOXWOODS RESORT CASINO)

A ceremony was held to open the new HighFlyer zipline at Foxwoods Resort Casino (MIKE CHAIKEN PHOTO)

Jade Soto receives her flight jacket and safety instructions for the HighFlyer zipline at Foxwoods Resort Casino (MIKE CHAIKEN PHOTO)

The view from the HighFlyer zipline at Foxwoods Resort Casino (MIKE CHAIKEN PHOTO)

The Observer’s edition editor Mike Chaiken is strapped into his HighFlyer flight suit at Foxwoods Resort Casino. (JADE SOTO PHOTO)

The ribbon is cut for the new HighFlyer zipline at Foxwoods Resort Casino (MIKE CHAIKEN PHOTO)

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