By the time you second-guess the wisdom of being zipped inside a three-metre transparent plastic ball and rolled down a hill, it's already too late – you're screaming. You're also sloshing around in 25 litres of water, turning in all directions, limbs tangling with your co-rider. Twenty seconds later the ball stops moving (but for some reason I'm still screaming), the zipper opens, and I slip out the shoulder-width canal to – splash! – land on the grass as befuddled as a newborn.
"Mom, that was so awesome – we have to go again!" my 13-year-old says with a laugh, shedding her usual game face of thinly veiled boredom.
Taking a spin on Canada's only Aqua Ogo (outdoor gravity orb) isn't the only time that happens at Horseshoe Valley's Adventure Park. Sharing the adrenalin rush of a 632-metre-long zipline, working together to get out of a labyrinth maze, laughing at how stupid we all look in the rock-climbing harness – a day trip to this cottage-country thrill centre is the most fun we've had as a family in months.
The park is compact enough that, even if the kids head back for another go on the bungy trampoline, my husband and I can watch from a comfortable patio chair nearby. It's also small enough that the laid-back staff might drive you a little nuts – can't this line move any faster? More important, though, the park is surprisingly reasonable in price. Parking is free and there's no entry fee; guests pay per attraction or buy a $30 day pass ($35 on weekends) that gets them into six attractions. You can also bring your own picnic lunch. Try and do that at Canada's Wonderland.
The park also offers horseback riding, mountain biking, a three-hour treetop canopy trek and off-road Hummer tours for extra fees (though just $5 gets kids under 10 out for a pony ride). Tempted to stay overnight? The adjoining resort hotel offers Adventure Park packages starting at $199 a night.
For information, visit horseshoeresort.com/adventure-park.
The writer was a guest of Skyline Resorts. The company did not review or approve the story.