On October 18, I was forced to face my fear of heights… 400-450 feet off the ground. First, I was pampered by my husband with a mani-pedi, a Port of Subs lunch, a movie (Dracula Untold – “Look Back” coming very soon. Stay tuned.), a stroll around the new Downtown Summerlin shopping (“Hot Spot” coming soon as well.), and a pre-launch Midori Sour. He knows I’m terrified of heights, but a couple of months ago, we decided that if I’m going to face my acrophobia (fear of heights), I can’t just do it by simple means. “Go big or go home” motto… so, how was it? Let me just take you through the process.
Parking at the Rio Hotel & Casino turned out to be a near nightmare. Besides being an acrophobe, I’m also a claustrophobe (fear of small, tight spaces), and parking garages (and elevators) are a working progress for me. After going around nearly every floor of the parking garage, I thought I was going to be in the absolute clear and our Voodoo flight would be cancelled. Unfortunately, I had told my husband to go right instead of left to do one more round of the bottom level of the garage, and as we were about to say, “Screw it,” an SUV lit up its reverse lights.
My hands were clammy and shaky as we entered Rio Hotel & Casino. That much, I don’t mind admitting to. We went to the zip line store and handed over our Groupon voucher that was for 2 riders for 1 price with 2 for 1 photos, 2 for 1 drinks (I’ll talk about this later), and 50% off up to 2 clothing items from the store. Yes, we did have to sign a waiver, and kids under a certain age must have a guardian sign the waiver with them. There was a group of homecoming teens behind us, and they had one dad signing off for all of them. Poor guy.
Before heading up to the waiting area, my husband loosened me up with a Midori Sour at the bar. Okay, the 2 for 1 drinks that was part of the Groupon voucher turned out to be just for the soda and water that was in the zip line store’s cooler. Many of those who purchased the Groupon believed that it was for the Voodoo lounge & bar. We were corrected on this topic.
To head up to the Voodoo Zip Line launch pad, we went through the Voodoo lounge check-in stand (you get stamped at the zip line store to show that you’re clear to head up), and we went into the external glass elevator up to the 51st floor of the Rio Hotel. [side note: The last time I was in a glass elevator was in 2006 in Atlanta, GA, and I passed out. Security was called, and the in-house paramedic had to check on me.] I survived the elevator! I was clinging to my husband the whole time, but I survived it.
On the 51st floor, we walked through the lounge & bar and out into the evening air, where we got our pre-launch picture taken (still don’t know where that picture will be posted). We were then directed down to the launch patio to wait our turn, which wasn’t very long. They pretty much hustle you to the launch pad like scared cattle, but that’s okay. Why? Because their nudging you to the launch pad doesn’t give you time to back out, and I was partially tempted to.
We had to take off our flip flops when we entered the launch pad, and the guy who strapped me in joked that they haven’t had an accident since the zip line opened. I would’ve sucker punched him if I wasn’t shaking so bad. The gate that’s closed during the switching of riders is about 1 foot from the tandem seat. There’s a double strap, lap belt that is latched and locked in behind the seat and is checked by two different launch pad personnel, which I appreciate the two-person checks they do. Then, comes the heart racing moment.
They opened the gate, and we got the perfect view of the 450-foot drop down to the Rio’s pool and courtyard. They eased the seat with us strapped in it out about 3 feet to get us off of the docking/launching pad. You can barely hear the launch pad guys do a count down, but I could’ve sworn I heard a soft “3…2…1” countdown under my “I can’t believe I’m doing this. What the heck am I doing this?” mutterings. My husband put his arm around me, and I was holding on to what I could… the handlebar on my right and my husband’s shorts on my left.
The initial drop was the worse for me. Fear factor level: 10. You’re dropped into open air in a seat that you’re strapped to by 2 lap straps (that you’d use on an airplane) and that’s held by 2 cable lines and 2 emergency bungie cords. You’re shot out into open air and go from 0mph to 30+mph in 2 seconds. My husband kept telling me to open my eyes, and every time I did, I screamed. What I saw: I was well off the ground, I felt nothing but air in my face, and I saw myself rushing towards a building! After the ride, my husband admitted that he was a bit nervous when we got close to the line’s end, and I’ll confess that I was terrified. It was all because the seat doesn’t slow down when it gets close to the building. It actually doesn’t catch the brake until after it’s crossed 3 feet over the building’s edge.
Then, the part I don’t think my mother could handle: The ride goes backwards back to the launch pad. That’s right. You go forward at 30+mph and backwards at 10-15mph. The slowness of the return made the heights thing more real to be honest. However, I did get to appreciate Las Vegas more in its nightly beauty, as I kept my eyes forward, left, and right, and I never once looked down. According to my husband, I was laughing nearly hysterical during the return ride. All I remember was saying, “Scratch this off my bucket list. I’m not coming back here again.” *laughs*
After our ride, my husband and I hung out on the launch pad patio and enjoyed the view of the Las Vegas Strip. Vegas truly is beautiful at night. I also made 2 new, short-lived friends. There was a couple taking pictures of each other, and I offered to snap a few with them together. After I heard the lady speak, my curiosity got the best of me. I learned that they’re from England and had spent the last few days in Vegas on holiday and were leaving Sunday morning. My husband and I agreed that this was one way to close out a holiday trip overseas. While we waited for the elevator, the couple and I talked, and she told me that if I really wanted to get over my fear of heights, I ought to do the SkyJump at the Stratosphere. (It’s a bungie jump from the top of the Stratosphere to the bottom.) She informed me that you free fall until around 20 feet, when they start slowing you down. My husband – who normally doesn’t talk to strangers – asked her what drove her to jump off a perfectly sound building, and she just shrugged, pointed at her significant other and said, “His friend and him did it, and I didn’t want to be left out.” Talk about my hands starting to sweat all over again. *cringe* and *shiver*
In the end, I’m glad I purchased the Groupon a few months ago. I have no regrets. Do I want to go zip lining again? Yes, but maybe something a little closer to the ground next time. I still want to go home to the Philippines and zip line on Corregidor Island, and I don’t think the path of the zip line goes over 100 feet.
My recommendations for the Voodoo Zip Line:
- Wear flip flops and take them off at the launch pad. You really get to feel how vulnerable you are when you can feel nothing but air at your feet.
- Go to the bathroom beforehand. We did, and I do believe that if I didn’t, I would’ve peed my pants.
- Go a little after the sun sets but before 8pm. You’ll still pay “day pass” prices before 8pm, you won’t have the sun in your eyes, and come 8pm, you’re paying “night pass” prices and must be 21+ to do it. My husband adds: “You won’t have to fight the crowd.”
Definitely worth checking out this Sin City attraction.