Enter the world’s first 18-hole adventure golf course in a cave… 500ft below the earth’s surface! Inspired by hundreds of years of slate mining history, this attraction is equally as unique in the sense that it can only be reached by Europe’s steepest cable railway – and is pioneered by industry disruptors, Zip World, and Greenspan Projects Ltd.
Set over four levels, the course features 18 unique holes in total, originating from creative concepts dreamt up by Greenspan’s design team. The course itself takes visitors on a journey through the cave’s history as they battle each other through a series of interactive challenges. Coupled with immersive special FX, bright atmospheric lighting displays, rope nets and a slide to eventually exit the attraction, the course is one of a kind and an extremely unique project for Greenspan Projects.
The Zip World caverns have been inaccessible for almost 200 years, so, naturally, Zip World saw an opportunity to change this – and create a unique attraction within the depths of these historical slate mines to draw upon the fascinating heritage and history of the site.
Since opening this attraction, Zip World welcomed over 600 visitors during its’ first weekend alone. Now a highly sought after adventure and a firm favourite addition to an already amazing portfolio, the sky is the limit with this adventure golf course… or shall we say… the cavern ceiling?
This entry is incredibly innovative and fits the bill for a themed environment award perfectly… because this is an environment that hasn’t been disturbed for many years!
Set inside a disused slate mine in Blaenau Ffestiniog, the environment is steeped in history, with the culture of slate mining. It’s literally the town that “roofed the world” and it’s such an iconic setting. Making the decision to “break the mould” and utilise this environment to house an adventure golf course like no other (in one of the wettest places in the world) was a challenging yet thrilling premise. Throughout the entire process, the priority to keep the theming historically accurate and to “pay homage” to the mine’s history was extremely high… and it has certainly been achieved.
There was, of course, a considerable amount of planning to ensure that the attraction itself was able to go ahead. The key from getting from “idea phase” to the next milestone was creating a fully detailed 3D model of the project. The cavern was then surveyed extensively and from this, an in-depth 3D model that showed exactly how the attraction would look was created. This allowed the Zip World team to fully immerse themselves in the design and make any changes required before construction began.
To make sure that we could fit the detailed design into space, a three-dimensional survey which was subsequently used with the three-dimensional design software, was used to insert a structural frame within the constraints of the rock chamber.
Greenspan were able to take the sketch concept and develop a design package, using the 3D computer software tools that the technical design team have at their fingertips to coordinate and develop the design and overcome the challenges of it, and really reimagine that rock chamber. In theory – the team were fully immersed in the environment digitally… before physically!
In this time, it was really all about the “drama” of the cavern – and the theme started to take shape in more ways than one. It was found that parts of the cave could really draw out, to make the experience even more exciting. It was all about knowing which bits to bring attention to for the visitor. For instance, creating spatial experiences, where you have tight tunnels and chambers… which suddenly open out into a huge lofty cave. Here, you’re conscious of the rock overhead, you know that there’s a mountain above you, and you’re climbing up through these gantry ways and these steel structures as you play Adventure Golf. It’s very much about drama and using lighting to exaggerate or highlight the setting. The use of darkness, shadow, and sudden directional lighting, as well as sound and echo, is all utilised to create a dramatic themed environment. It’s about creating that thrill experience and using the atmosphere to its full extent.
The timeframe was extremely short, as Zip World wanted to open in time for the summer holidays. This required a great deal of teamwork and a lot of “positive pressure” to produce results that would allow for the perfect seasonal opening… and it was delivered so, with an opening date of 27th July 2022.
Within the first weekend alone, Zip World welcomed over 600 visitors to the attraction and it continues to be an incredibly popular attraction…
Sean Taylor, CEO
Andrew Hudson, Commercial Director
Sion Roberts, Senior Project Manager
Richard Manchett, General Manager
Rod Morton, Managing Director
Richard Paget, Senior Architect
Gaius Holmes, Project Manager