Will Americans pay an attraction money so that they can take a walk? The answer is yes, but it really helps if the path is hanging in mid-air.
The best known of these new ped-destinations is the Skywalk in Arizona, where visitors follow a plexiglass-floor loop over the rim of the Grand Canyon. Less successful was the Purple People Bridge between Kentucky and Ohio, which failed partly because it wasn’t high enough to merit its lofty admission price.
The cost-to-altitude ratio is better for the just-opened Bridge Walk in Fayetteville, West Virginia. It’s not cheap — $70 apiece — but visitors pay for the experience of following a two-foot-wide catwalk slung beneath the New River Gorge Bridge, the highest in America, 876 feet straight down to the river. That’s twice the vertical drop beneath the Skywalk — and on Bridge Walk there’s no turning back for three-quarters of a mile.
Each walker is hooked to a harness system that keeps them dangling safely if an unexpected crosswind blows them overboard. And the traffic rumbling overhead on US 19 probably adds an extra element of sonic chaos.
Bridge Walk strikes us as a useful thrill for a motion-challenged nation. It’s just a walk, but it’s an extreme walk, so everyone can feel as if they’ve accomplished something, even if it’s nothing more than putting one trembling foot in front of the other.
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