Living in the middle of nowhere Ohio doesn’t exactly make you think “mountains” or “skiing”, but actually we have a small ski resort right around the corner from us at a place called Mad River Mountain. Although we have not yet ventured into attempting skiing or snowboarding for our kiddos, we have had a couple very successful trips to their Bubly Tubing Park. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with what snow tubing is or what all it entails, as well as what types of concerns you may have while visiting with kids on the spectrum, here is what you need to know:
- The Basics
Snow tubing is just how it sounds. You sit in a big inflatable tube and sled down a large hill covered in snow. There is a height requirement of 42in to participate and everyone is required to ride in their own tube.
- The Money and the Time
The current cost for this season is $34 per person, and that price covers a 2-hour time slot. They are not open every day of the week and they do have a limit on the number of tickets they sell for each time slot, so if you are interested, be sure to look at the calendar and book your tickets early.
- The Ramp
This was by far the hardest part to get through, especially on your first trip. If you have small children or kids that have trouble understanding it may take a few times to get the hang of it. To get to the top of the hill to go tubing you must ride up a belt-type escalator that takes you to the top. Just like other escalators you must step on and off while it is moving, and you must do this while holding your tubes. If you are with smaller children, it is best for you to hold their tubes as well as it can be a bit tricky to keep a hold while riding up. It is intended for each rider to ride by themselves while leaving some space between each person, however if you explain to the attendant some issues your child is having, they may allow you to ride directly beside your child or on very rare occasions may allow your child to not stand (but I wouldn’t bet on this being the case every time). If they run into issues the attendants may have to stop and restart the escalator as well, which can be a sort of a balancing act to get used to if you are riding at that time. It was a bit of a rough start getting through this part the first few times with Damion, but by the end of our first day going he got the hang of it and was able to stand and ride all on his own!
- Different Lanes, Different number of riders
When you get to the top you will find out that some lanes allow you to go down as a single rider and some allow a group. To clarify, group does not mean that you can have more than one rider in a tube but instead means that you can tie your tubes together and go down the hill at the same time, in the same lane. Group lanes are the ones that we always stick to as we don’t want our boys getting to the bottom of the hill at a different time than us. It is not always clearly marked which lanes are group versus single but there are attendants at the top of the hill who can help direct you to the correct lane.
There is a lodge within this area that has bathrooms and a place to sit and eat inside if you find that your child needs a break. Since it is a timed event, there are rarely too many people inside, so it is a nice place to get a bit of a sensory break as well if your child gets overstimulated.
- Awareness and Safety
For this type of outing, our family situation definitely required a lot of additional effort on our part as parents to make sure that things ran smoothly. We were not sure that our boys would understand or be able to follow all the rules alone, so we stepped up and made sure that they were not in a position to have to do so. We stuck to group lanes with an adult always in the front making sure the tube didn’t go down before it was supposed to. We held onto the rope so that the tube would remain together on the way down. We made sure they cleared out of the area with us so that they weren’t in a position to get hurt in any way at the bottom of the hill. Some of these things they may be able to learn with time and additional trips going, but we will be prepared to do it all until we are absolutely sure that they understand each part and know for a fact that they follow the rules and can participate safely.
Those are the basics. I know I hit you with a lot of information but hopefully now you can go into the outing fully prepared. Since it is timed, I want everyone ready and able to get the most they can out of their time there. Our crew always requires at least one break in the middle, but even with our break we were able to make it down the hill about 6 times, which was plenty for us! I’m not going to say it is the easiest outing we have done with our kids (as I said before there is lots of parent participation required on this one) but our little adventure seekers sure did have fun and we plan to go back again sometime soon.
For more information or to book a time slot to go tubing, check out the Bubly Tubing Park Website Here.