BOURNEMOUTH’S former Pier Theatre has been converted into an indoor adventure centre set to attract more than 50,000 thrill-seekers every year.
The newly opened £2million Rock Reef centre currently offers three exciting experiences – 25 different ‘Clip ’n’ Climb’ climbing walls, an aerial obstacle course and 65m of pier caves.
In July, they will be joined by the world’s first zip line that takes the rider on an adrenaline-filled journey over the sea from pier to shore.
The converted theatre also contains a terrifying vertical drop slide, a leap of faith jumping challenge and a cafe. It has already created almost 50 new jobs, including five apprentice positions.
Operators Openwide International, who have invested £3m into the Pier since 2007, say it brings it into the 21st century.
It also provides Bournemouth with an additional wet weather attraction but Steve Cutbush, Openwide’s managing director, said it was not solely aimed at tourists.
“It’s a year-round attraction so it’s got to fit lots of target markets,” he said.
“We know many locals haven’t visited the pier in years, we hope we’re now giving them something worth coming down for.”
Openwide had considered various ideas for a new attraction before winning approval for the activity centre and zip wire. A standing surf wave will follow in the future. “We always liked the idea of outdoor pursuits and adventure sports and we wanted to try and bring the great outdoors indoors,” said Steve.
“We were also aware of the widespread concern about high obesity levels and lack of activity amongst children. It just seemed like a win win.”
He said they lost £300,000 trying to make the Pier Theatre work but found it impossible with no council subsidy. “Hopefully the people who enjoyed it as a theatre will bring themselves and their families and enjoy it as something very different.”
The centre got a thumbs-up from 13-year-old Aiden Ganly and his father Mike, visiting from London. Mike said: “We knew nothing about this but it’s great. Aiden has found it very testing and exhilarating and it’s great the parents are involved too.”
And nine-year-old Freddy Woodall, who was there with younger brother Joe and dad Tom, said: “I think it’s amazing, the best climbing place I’ve ever been too.”