This morning I headed down to Justin Herman plaza to be among the first to ride San Francisco’s: British Columbia: The Ride: A Real Life IMAX Experience (3D) or whatever. When I heard about this thing the other day, I got all excited in that “I totally want to do that, but will probably never be willing to wait in some stupid line” kind of way. It’s the same way I feel when I see commercials for motocross racing in AT&T park.
But because today is the first day that it’s open, a bunch of Canadians invited a bunch of people with expensive cameras to come down and skip the line to ride it first. Presumably because Canadians are really nice and not because of some other ulterior motive like to promote tourism to British Columbia. (Read more at: www.destination2010.ca!)
That brings me to my next point: they really want you to feel like we’ve got a fat nugget of British Columbia right here in our very own Justin Herman plaza. Now, I should point out that I’ve been to British Columbia, so I feel that I am able to honestly and objectively rate this experience in terms of authenticity. (For those of you who don’t know: Authenticity was a very important metric in the late 00′s.) I’ve skied the snowy peaks of both Whistler AND Blackcomb, and I can say with some authority that they take their open container laws much more seriously than San Francisco does. Luckily for me, British Columbia’s PR agency hosted free Breakfast Wines from the province at Sens Restaurant overlooking the plaza, so I didn’t have to test SFPD’s leniency.
After a some traditional dances and a couple plugs for Vancouver International Airport from 2010 Gold Medal-winning speed skater Shani Davis and BC Native/Skier-crosser Ashleigh McIvor, we (the people with the cameras, I mean) were invited sign a liability waiver and follow the Olympians to the top of the 80-foot tower overlooking Vaillancourt Fountain. (Sidenote: I learned the name of that fountain in Justin Herman Plaza today.)
They’ve got the whole thing down pretty slick. Harnesses are laid out for you to step into, the staff are friendly about tightening up the straps around your junk, they’ll even hook your backpack in for you so you don’t drop it on some poor sap down on the plaza. And speaking of poor saps, some kook in Vancouver apparently waited nine and a half hours to ride their (shorter) zip line during the Olympics. The line actually looked pretty manageable and I saw at least one guy riding it in business casual attire, so I take that to mean the line was shorter than your average financial district lunch break.
The ride itself doesn’t exactly break land speed limits, but it’s probably a sufficient thrill for all you cubicle jockeys out there and possibly more exciting that the Peter Pan Live! thing set up next door. Mostly, I got a kick out of stepping off the ledge and pretending to fulfill all my darkest Golden Gate Bridge fantasies. (Also, you’re like 75 feet off the ground! Whee!)
The whole thing was over in a matter of seconds before they had me unhooked on the other end. Then someone ambushes you while you look like a total dork with a big stupid grin on your face and takes your photo so they can put it on the Internet slash submit it to advertising awards committees. But whatever: free fun!
If you’re interested, the zip-line is free to the public and open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. through April 18.