We went to test out the new Leavenworth Adventure Park on opening weekend, and here’s what my kid-testers want other kids to know:
Cautious 12-year-old: “You can use the brakes to choose if you want to go fast or slow.”
Fearless 8-year-old: “It’s super fun! Going slow is boring.”
Before getting on the signature ride, the Tumwater Twister Alpine Coaster, I had to sign a waiver to not hold the place accountable in case of injury or DEATH. There are also signs posted all around warning of injury or DEATH. I was concerned.
Spoiler: I didn’t die!
Leavenworth Adventure Park opened June 1 in the Bavarian-themed mountain town, about 2.5 hours east of Seattle. In addition to the alpine coaster, there’s also a Bavarian Bungee Bounce Trampoline, the Alpine Ascent Climbing Wall and Gems of the Enchantments Mining Sluice.
The Tumwater Twister Alpine Coaster
When you pull into Leavenworth, head straight on Route 2, which runs through the middle of town, and you’ll see the alpine coaster ahead on the side of the mountain. No need to look up directions.
The 2,700-foot-long alpine coaster is like a ginormous slide, with twists and turns and a track that sometimes leans and drops. It can reach 27 miles per hour, but you control your speed. If you’re used to driving down East Roy Street in Capitol Hill, Madison Street in downtown Seattle, Queen Anne Avenue… heck, any hill in Seattle, you’ll do just fine. This, coming from a person who’s terrified of heights.
The alpine coaster will run year-round, rain, snow or shine. “I can’t wait to try it in the dark, in the snow,” says John Sutherland, general manager for Leavenworth Adventure Park.
Sutherland came up with the idea for the adventure park some 30 years ago. “It all started because I’m also a roller coaster fanatic,” he said. He has more than 20 years of experience in the ski industry and points out that ski resorts put in alpine coasters so there’s something for people to do in the off-season.
A single ride on the alpine coaster costs $19/adult ($16/youth and $5/child), and we recommend going ahead and buying the 3-pack ($45/adult, $39/youth, $15/child) because one ride will not be enough. The first time you’re figuring out your sea legs, then the subsequent rides are when you really enjoy it.
Wait times: Worth it!
Did we spend 30 minutes waiting in line for a 5-minute ride? Yes. Was it worth it? Absolutely.
It helps that the waiting area is mostly indoors, shaded, with cool fans blowing. Thirty minutes went by quickly reading (and re-reading) those foreboding warning signs and watching toboggans ahead of us load. There’s a whole platoon of friendly staff members in orange shirts showing passengers how the toboggans work.
Cell phones and cameras are not allowed on the ride, according to a posted sign. But you know it’s just a matter of time before someone sneaks a point-of-view video and posts it on YouTube.
Kids can ride with an adult, as long as their combined weight doesn’t exceed 375 pounds in dry weather, and 330 pounds in wet weather. Riders must be at least 38 inches tall, and 54 inches to ride alone.
Plan ahead: Avoid disappointment
How is the new attraction faring? Well, let the numbers speak for themselves. Thursday (opening day), Friday, Saturday and Sunday were all sold out. There are a very limited number of walk-in tickets available. We highly recommend making an online advance reservation so you don’t show up disappointed. We met a family who drove all the way from Kirkland… only to find that the alpine coaster was sold out. (Also, advance tickets save you a few bucks.)
Parking is free in the adjacent lot, but it’s tight. If you’re staying in town, consider walking over instead.
When you arrive, everyone needs to check in on the first floor of the building, even if you bought tickets online. There’s no gate admission; you pay for the attractions you want to do. You’ll get your wristband and they’ll make sure you signed your online waivers. A staff member with a Sharpie crosses off a box on your wristband at each attraction. It’s a low-tech system that works well.
Around the Adventure Park
The alpine coaster is the biggest draw and has the longest lines. It was our family’s unanimous favorite. Start there. The other three attractions are basically walk-up.
For the bungee trampoline jump, you’re strapped to bungee cords while bouncing up to 20 feet in the air on a trampoline. We watched the person in front of us do flips! The staff member helping me into the harness was incredibly professional, even though it could have gotten awkward fast. He instructed me on how to thread the harness through my crotch and clip it across my chest, then asked me how much I weighed. At least he didn’t have to ask me how old I was!
The attendant for the rock climbing wall was equally stand out. She was patient and encouraging and not the least bit judgey for climbers of all abilities, as this out-of-shape mom will attest. The custom-sculpted climbing wall was designed by a professional climber. There are four routes to choose from: green being the easiest, black being crazy hard.
The minimum age for the bungee jump is 6, and 3 for the alpine coaster and rock wall, though there are also height and weight requirements. A dad came up to Sutherland while we were chatting and explained that his son was too light to do the bungee jump. He got a refund.
For tots under 3, don’t worry. Mineral mining is fun for all ages. You buy a 3-pound bag of rough from guest services and sift it through running water to uncover your gems. There’s also a viewing area on the third floor of the building with an exciting view of the alpine coaster. Bonus: the third floor is air-conditioned, and my kids were grateful for a cooling-off break.
Dress for the (hot) summer weather and choose your adventure speed
When it’s 64 degrees in Seattle, it’s 81 in Leavenworth. Wear cool, comfortable clothes. Workout clothes are great, and bike shorts under skirts are helpful for stepping into harnesses.
We want to emphasize, across all the rides, you choose the level of difficulty. It can be super fast and thrilling, or slow and easy. It’s fun for everyone, timid or daring or somewhere in between.
Ground for Leavenworth Adventure Park broke in September 2021. Some of the local residents objected to the additional traffic and parking woes that the new attraction would bring. I asked Sutherland about the protests. Sutherland points out that the location had previously housed a rafting company. And besides, the Wiegand alpine coaster is a German product. There are more than a dozen alpine coasters in Bavaria. “This coaster was manufactured in Germany,” he said. “It makes (Leavenworth) more Bavarian.”
The bottom line:
Not too scary. Super fun. Must try more than once!
If you go:
Tickets and pricing
Child (3-6): $5; Youth (7-12): $16; Adult (13+): $19
Bungee Trampoline: All: $11
Climbing Wall: All: $11
Mining Sluice: $8/13-lb of rough that includes 15 gems and teach & learning activity card
See the website for details on Adventure combo packs.
Days and times of operation
June 1-June 30: Open Thursdays-Mondays Noon-5 p.m. (closed Tuesdays & Wednesdays)
July 1-September 4: Open 7 days/week 10 a.m.-7 p.m. (last reservation at 7 p.m.)
Park will operate year-round in rain, snow or shine.