In the upper reaches of Mainplace Mall in Santa Ana, a space once occupied by four retail stores, there’s a new answer to the age-old question of summer: What are we doing today?
This is American Ninja Warrior Adventure Park, a shrunken version of the popular NBC show where contestants try to climb, swing, and jump toward the one-million-dollar grand prize.
Here, however, the main rewards are a good sweat and a sense of accomplishment. Just be careful: the park’s obstacle courses are tough. We learned just as much on a recent Monday morning, when my three daughters (ages 8, 13 and 16) visited the park a few days after it opened and tried new ways of slipping, stumbling, and face-planting. invented.
The grown-up in me wanted to know about the terrifying location of the park or its high level of difficulty, but my inner child walked out on the joint to complain. More importantly, our daughters too. With a total price tag of $102 for our party of four, I’d take that deal any day of the week.
To maximize your first ANWAP experience, consider these tips, in the order we tackled them:
1. Watch the show
14 Seasons of American Ninja Warrior is available on multiple streaming services. New episodes air Monday nights on NBC. Or just watch the show’s YouTube channel. However you watch it, fast forward through cutaways of the contestants’ sad backstories and their clapping loved ones. You just want to look at the odds and try some of the trading tricks. Like the experienced gait of running on unstable surfaces instead of slow walking; Or the way competitors patiently swing a few times on the trapeze bar to build momentum before moving themselves forward. The contestants on the show can take this stuff easy. This. There isn’t even a new park in Santa Ana.
For the more competitive spirits among you, I recommend working on your grip strength before you leave.
The biggest difference between the ninja warriors on TV and the ordinary people walking in the mall is not arm, leg, or core strength, but the ability to hang from bars and rings and perform one-inch finger-holds as long as someone doesn’t. is required.
You can have a good time in ANWAP with average grip strength. You will not complete all the challenges. Your elementary-schooler might not be able to conquer the easiest course without lending your hand.
Of our three daughters, only our gym-rat high school cheerleader completed the first two of the five obstacle courses, which get tougher as you progress.
Prepare yourself by hanging from the pullup bar for as long as you can, for a chance to complete all five. Thirty seconds is good. Sixty is better. Mix in some chin-ups and pullups, if possible. My more than thirty years of regular grip training was the most valuable component in my modest success during our journey.
3. Access Strategically
If you want, you can walk without reservation. But the ANWAP website allows guests to book a day and time in advance, which I recommend. The cost is Rs 20 per hour per guest. There is no minimum age, but attendees under the age of 13 must have a supervising adult nearby. Participants below 6 years of age a. should be with participants Adult.
You can also fill the required exemption online. The website encourages visitors to purchase specially made rubber-soled socks to help guests traverse the inflatable obstacle course (which is basically a 10,000-square-foot bounce house). I also recommend socks and ANWAP gloves. We were both there for less than half the time, but on tough gauntlets, where sweaty hands spell failure, gloves were a must.
Park recommends wearing long sleeves and pants to protect the forearms and lower legs from rough landings. The website doesn’t mention towels, but you should bring a towel for each member of your crew. Twenty minutes in, we were pink-faced and dripping.
4. Forget You’re Above JCPenney
The ceiling for the obstacle course at the mall is too low to reflect those obstacles on the massive NBC set. Good thing too. People on TV put months of training into their shot at a million dollars; You’re probably just looking for something to do on a random Tuesday.
The artists and engineers who built the park did an amazing job of recreating the beauty of the show, using black ceilings and walls to create depth and an impressive lighting system that casts a red and blue glow on everything beneath it. Is.
When you visit, park near JCPenney, one of Mainplace Mall’s anchor stores. American Ninja Warrior Adventure Park is right above it.
After checking in and putting your luggage in a locker, put on your gloves and socks and start anywhere you like. That is the beauty of that place. You can crawl throughout the inflatable course or take any of its five, more challenging tests. Try to do everything in any order. “We don’t want an individual driver to drive you,” chief executive Adrian Griffin told me in his warm Manchester accent. “We are an adventure park. We want people to have fun and explore.”
When our safety briefing ended, the girls and I were standing next to the inflatable course, so we (literally) jumped in.
5. Keep an eye on your little ones
The park is brand new, and it is still changing based on customer experience and staff observation. Each of the young employees we encountered was helpful and interested in what we liked and didn’t like, the challenges we overcame and the places we struggled.
Watch your youngest children (5 and under) while they are inside the inflatable course. Everything is soft and safe, but there are some areas where things can get hairy if there are older kids or grown-ups. The big swinging wrecking ball is padded, but a college kid trying to outsmart his roommate with it can accidentally send a kindergartener cartwheeling across the room, which is hilarious to imagine, unlike the real world. takes the result.
6. Know Your Body Limits
Each of the five obstacle courses is about 20 yards long and harder than the one before. They all start with a shaky path to walk. Then comes a smorgasbord of dangling from your hands, followed by tests of patience, critical thinking, and dynamic balance.
I learned about the first two courses. I needed a do-over at three to five, but I made it through this too – With the exception of the rolling log thing in the middle of course number four. It seemed soft enough under its black and red striped vinyl, but for me it was a vicious adversary. See yourself crossing a creek while walking on a log – but the moment you step on it, the log begins to spin.
The ANWAP is a must-have for all ages, but its 10-foot, cylindrical section wasn’t for 50-year-olds who had a stiff lower back. i could just See My legs are flying out from under me like one of three stooges and my lumbar spine is snapping in two on the spinning tube below me. I tried, but I sounded more like a kid testing pool temperatures than a grown man on an “adventure.”
Speaking of all ages, our active 8-year-old, the tallest kid in her class, couldn’t even reach the trapeze at first, even when she made her highest jump. Same with dangling rings on course two. I’d wager that some of the equipment has waned a bit since we were there.
Unfortunately, no adjustments and no exercise can help you with what fans of the show call “spider walls.” Picture two plexiglass walls facing each other, about four feet apart. The goal is to suspend yourself between them, pressing down with your hands and feet, while simultaneously moving forward. (You may have lost your rubber-soled socks in favor of tennies before you hit five courses.)
Our long pants proved useful on “distorted walls,” which slid to heights of between eight and 14 feet, up and away from the floor like a skateboard ramp. Our reward for running to the top of the tallest walls was the same as our punishment for coming short: a rapid slide at the knees or butt, back to floor level. I reached the top of all three walls – barely. Our oldest beat the first two. Our 8 and 13 year olds climbed eight feet with ease.
7. Look for more ways to rank up in the near future
American Ninja Warrior Adventure Park is a great way for families to exercise and laugh together. Or for teens to blow off steam instead of staring at their screens or driving people to their e-bikes. I can imagine my wife and I leaving our girls in the park while we roam the malls and sabotage the retail economy.
We were hungry when we worked. The mall also has a food court (Subway, Panda Express, California Pizza Kitchen, etc.) and an in-house snack bar that the ANWAP team promises to upgrade over the next eight to ten weeks. (For now it offers candy and chips.) Bring a bottle of water for each member of your party.
The next step in the development of the park, says English CEO Griffin, is the game-ification of the experience so that visitors can compete against each other, or against warriors in 14 parks across the UK, or in futuristic venues. State.
Our family is already looking forward to returning to Santa Ana to improve on our inaugural journey and wage a transatlantic ninja war against strangers. (This technology is 10 to 12 weeks away now.)
Personally, I look forward to going face-to-face with my oldest man again, who talked too much trash for my old man’s liking. Next time the wife is also coming. But it’s not allowed to laugh when I give that rolling log thing another shot.