Empower Adventures opened the first zipline adventure park in the Tampa Bay area at Oldsmar’s Mobbly Bayou Preserve in June 2016.
Last June, Empower Adventures opened the first zipline park in the Tampa Bay area at Mobbly Bayou Preserve in Oldsmar.
As the one-year anniversary of the ecotourism attraction approaches, the business is going strong, according to EA president and founder, Joe DeRing.
DeRing gave a state-of-the-business report to the Oldsmar City Council last month, and during his presentation, he outlined the many ways the facility, which features five ziplines and a suspension bridge as well as an aerial adventure apparatus, has been considered a success.
Empower Adventures founder Joe DeRing.
“We have been honored and pleased to see that we are unanimously receiving five-stars for the experiences we are offering our guests,” DeRing told the council on April 18.
“We truly have, I believe, become a destination for folks from Tampa as well as the beaches who are traveling for leisure and who have come to the area from out of state.”
DeRing noted the park has hosted team-building and leadership exercises for companies and organizations including Tech Data, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, Bloomin’ Brands and Habitat for Humanity, and he used a slide show to showcase data they have gathered in the first year.
“We have serviced over 7,500 people who have visited our facility, 46 (percent) of whom have been between the ages of 36 and 50 years old, with another 33 percent over 51 years old,” DeRing said.
“So, about 80 percent of guests are adults who have a yearn for adventure.”
He added the highest concentration of zipline users come from Palm Harbor, Oldsmar and communities north of Tampa, with visitors travelling from as far away as Bradenton, Crystal River and Lakeland before outlining the park’s revenue sharing agreement with the city.
The extreme aerial obstacle course is part of Empower Adventure’s zipline park in Oldsmar.
“In our partnership with the city we do pay revenue share,” DeRing said. “So, coming up in June we will owe the city…over $26,000 for use of the property there at the park.”
At that point, Council member Gabby McGee noted she was impressed with the park’s revenue for the first year.
“It’s about a half-a million dollars so far that you guys have brought in in revenue?” she asked.
When told the actual amount was more than $520,000, McGee replied, “I’m impressed.”
Oldsmar Mayor Doug Bevis.
After DeRing explained how surveys have showed that 70 percent of zipline guests are spending money at local establishments and attractions and highlighted the company’s charitable contributions to the city, Mayor Doug Bevis asked about the company’s future plans, specifically the desire to relocate its office from State Street to the park.
“What are the future plans, short, long-term, the next six to twelve months for you guys?” Bevis asked, adding he’d heard the company would like to have a small enclosed space on-site.
“You and I talked the other day (about how it) could potentially enhance your ability to move more patrons through, adding kayaking or paddleboarding, to make it a bigger experience.”
DeRing said having the company’s office staff separated from the on-site personnel has been “difficult and challenging,” and he said having a small enclosed space on site would benefit everyone involved.
“Going through what we went through last summer with the lack of an enclosed facility there at the park, not only for guests, but for guides for gear for equipment…just having an enclosure would be ideal,” DeRing explained, noting he’s looking for something roughly 600-square-feet in size.
City of Oldsmar and Empower Adventures officials at the groundbreaking ceremony for the zipline aerial adventure park on Thursday, March 17, 2017.
Council member Eric Seidel said he believed the company should give the city a little “quid pro quo” if given the new office space, and he then asked if DeRing believes the adventure park will meet its intended goal of $700,000 in revenue in Year 2.
“It’s a work in progress, just like any startup is,” he said. “We feel good. We believe there will be growth month over month. We’re gonna work hard to get there, for sure.”
After the presentation, DeRing got an unexpected vote of approval from Council member Jerry Beverland, whose original opposition to the zipline was no secret.
Oldsmar City Council member Jerry Beverland.
“Everybody knows I would’ve voted against the zipline if I had the opportunity,” Beverland, who returned to office in March 2016, five months after the park was approved, said. “But I want to tell you that I’m impressed tonight with your presentation. I am very, very impressed by it.”
“The zipline has not been a tragedy for the city of Oldsmar. I admit that,” he added. “I am impressed with what you’ve done. I do support the zipline now. I am glad it’s there, and I’m glad it’s doing well. And I’ll be more happy when we get the $26,000!”
Bevis concluded the discussion with praise for DeRing and Empower Adventures.
“I think the stewardship you provide for the city of Oldsmar and the leadership you provide is great,” Bevis said.
“Your passion for the city is second to none, and it shows.”