Category Archives: Meet our Tribe

Q & A With A Member Of The Go Ape Team: Tony Mitchell

Reach New Heights At Go Ape

This month, we’re grilling Tony Mitchell – site manager at Go Ape Black Park, Buckinghamshire. Tony has been leading the tribe there since July 2014, but has been part of Go Ape’s fixtures and fittings since 2009 when he took a job at the Bedgebury site. Here, we find out about why he’s always in a good mood, and why he’s usually in close proximity to an A-list celeb or two…Tony Mitchell - Go Ape Black Park

What made you join the Go Ape family?

My whole life, I’ve always loved the great outdoors. I joined the army at the ripe age of 16 and it really gave me a taste for it; I’ve never had a “proper” office job. Before working for Go Ape I worked as a watersports instructor and a ski guide. I then went on to be deputy manager of a gym in Brighton – but even that was too “indoorsy” for me!

Did you experience Go Ape for yourself before taking the job?

Shortly before my interview for Go Ape, I thought to myself: “I better have a go at this so I know what I’m talking about in the interview!” and my partner and I paid a visit to the Bracknell site. Since then, though, I’ve been to 16 or 17 of the other Go Ape sites – I can’t get enough of it!

What do you like about working for Go Ape?

Go Ape Black Park is set in 530 acres of beautiful woodland, with an amazing centre-piece lake. Even if I wake up in a bad mood, I step one foot into the forest and I’m instantly in a good mood; even if it’s wet and windy, it’s impossible not to be happy when you’re surrounded by this scenery. I’m lucky because, even as a manager, I’m not stuck behind a desk all day. Although my role does require me to be at a desk sometimes, I’m still very active.

I’d have to say that the people – both staff and customers – are what I love most about my job, though. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing someone conquer their fears; starting the day shaking with nerves and coming back absolutely buzzing.

What makes your site unique?

Well, one of the reasons Black Park is unique is because of our best kept secret: we have forest bikes at our site. We’re the only Go Ape site to have a bike hire operation in place, and I like that!

We also offer the Segway experience here, but we’re the only site where you can Segway down to the Hogwarts’ railway station from Harry Potter!

Pinewood Studios is just a stone’s throw away from our site, with ‘Star Wars’ being filmed down there as I speak! There are also loads of movie scenes that are filmed right here at Black Park – from ‘James Bond’ to ‘Fast & Furious’. Quite often, we’ll hear a big boom coming from Pinewood Studios – it’s rather exciting for all of us! The stars are usually kept under wraps, but Damian Lewis (star of ‘Homeland’) did pay Go Ape a visit with his son, who had a go on the Tree Top Junior Adventure.

Finally, tell us a story that will put a smile on our faces…

There are a couple of particularly funny moments that spring to mind. One is when a customer dressed up in one of our gorilla suits, unbeknownst to her boyfriend. She then proceeded to get down on one knee and propose to him! He said yes, of course (after she had peeled off her gorilla mask!).

Another one that stands out took place on market day. Once a month, there’s a market that comes to the Go Ape car park, and part of it involves a ‘petting zoo’ – where animals such as ducks, rabbits, donkeys and sheep often make an appearance. One day, the rabbits somehow managed to escape, so we ended up scrambling around the car park chasing bunnies!

Q & A With Buxton Site Manager: Liam McCabe

Go Ape Zip Wires

Liam McCabe - Go ApeLiam McCabe leads the tribe at our beautiful Buxton site in the heart of the Peak District. While he’s been in the activity industry for many years, here Liam tells us why his job at Go Ape is like no other, and why he’ll be eternally grateful to his fellow Go Ape buddy James Winter for recommending the company to him in the first place…

What made you join the Go Ape family in the first place?

I used to work at a place called PGL – a residential holiday camp for kids, based on adventurous experiences outside. Whilst I loved this aspect of the job, it was very much a 24/7 role. Because I lived on site, I was working in the evenings and was on-call throughout the night (meaning I’d get a knock on the door at 2am from a child having a nose bleed!).

A few of my mates worked at Go Ape and were always raving about how good it was and how the company looked after you really well. I felt I had reached the furthest I could go with PGL and had been there for most of my twenties, so when my good friend James Winter (then, manager of the Bedgebury site) told me he had a deputy job going, I jumped at the chance – it was time to try something new and settle down with my (now) wife. It was perfect timing really, as I was looking for something that was still based on adventurous experiences, but somewhere I could finish at the end of each day, shut the doors and switch off.

Did you experience Go Ape for yourself before taking the job?

I hadn’t, but once I knew I had an interview I had a look around one of the sites. I had done similar activities before – I used to be a paddler and work on other ropes sites – so knew I would love it.

What do you like about working for Go Ape?

It is extremely rewarding when you see customers laughing and having a good time. I also love the job because it is very different to when I was working purely with kids. When adults are involved, you hand over some of the responsibility to them, whereas with children you are very conscious that you are always the responsible one. With Go Ape, you let people have a bit more autonomy on the course – giving them the freedom to explore their own fears and learn the ropes (pardon the pun!) for themselves. At the same time, though, they know that we’re always on hand should they need us, but they don’t feel like they are being watched and judged the whole time. This puts the emphasis back on them so that they get more out of it, and there’s something satisfying about watching someone conquer their fears.

What makes your site unique?

Buxton is one of the highest of the Go Ape courses – it’s a very hilly site so there are plenty of long crossings and high platforms, and that has got to be our USP. From high up in the trees, I also think we have some of the best views out of all the Go Ape sites: you can see over Buxton itself, looking down over the town, the Peak District and over the moors. It’s a very picturesque course, and the views never cease to stop me in my tracks.

Finally, tell us a story that will put a smile on our faces…

I can certainly think of an embarrassing story…

Jodie Marsh once visited Go Ape Bedgebury when I worked there. At the end of the activity, we give out certificates – and on this occasion I was writing them in front of the customers. I was moving around the group asking names and writing the name in my best handwriting on the certificate. As I got to Jodie I said: “I know your name, believe it or not!” and wrote it out for her. When I got to the gent next to her, he said: “I bet you know my name then too?” I replied: “Are you her brother?“, to which he responded: “No I’m her boyfriend“. He looked a bit disappointed when I asked for his name. For some reason, I must have given the impression of being up-to-speed with celeb love stories!

Sharing the Love, Your Go Ape Experiences

We love February. And if you’re asking “why?” then let us tell you. We love February not because we get to pucker-up on Valentine’s Day, nor because we get to test our tossing skills on Pancake Day (as enjoyable as it is). Oh no. We love February for one simple reason: because it marks the start of a brand new Go Ape season! Hurrah!

Yes, we’re a little excited, to say the least. And in the run-up to the grand reopening, we’ve been taking a look back at what you, our lovely loyal customers, have said about your previous Go Ape experiences. Although we don’t like to blow our own trumpet, the feedback we’ve received has been excellent – see for yourself on our unedited feedback page.

Here are some of the reasons why our customers love to Go Ape:Go Ape Family Days Out

Family time

Go Ape is something all the family can enjoy together. Sometimes, it’s a case of kids dragging their parents up into the trees, but all the family have huge grins on their faces when they whizz down the zip wire at the end of it. After visiting our Cannock Chase course with his family, Barry recommended…

“any parent to just get up there in the trees with their kids and enjoy the adventure together.”

 

Catch-up

Why catch-up in a café when you can catch-up in the tree tops? Jennifer, visiting our Buxton course, told us that Go Ape is a…

“great way to spend time with friends [she hasn’t] seen in a few months.”

Fear-conquering

We’ve read lots of feedback from customers who took the plunge and conquered their fear of heights. Howard, who is a returning customer to our Crawley course, admitted that he’s “petrified of heights” but “feels safe and hangs on for dear life.

Hannah, who visited Moors Valley Country Park, said her son was incredibly nervous at the start. But, by the end of it, he was “swinging around like a true monkey.” That’s what we like to hear!

Top Tribe

Our feedback is inundated with comments about the Go Ape tribe. Our lovely customers have been calling us “friendly,” “welcoming,” “cheerful,” “professional,” “helpful“… Oh stop it, you’re making us blush!

Ice-breaker

Go Ape is a first date with a difference. What better way to woo than by hurling yourself off a platform, Tarzan- style, into a big net? One customer, who visited our Trent Park course, said that it was…

“great fun, especially for a first date,” before admitting that he “didn’t push her off any trees.”

We should hope not!

Go celebrate

Loads of kids and adults celebrate their birthdays in the trees – and they love it. Carolyn visited Alice Holt Forest last year for her daughter’s 11th birthday. She said that the girls “had a blast” and that she “can’t wait to come back and do the adult one.

One of our other customers, Rachel, took her Dad to Leeds Castle as a Father’s Day present. Rachel says:

“He now wants to know if we can go every year.”

Go Ape Fun Kids Birthday Parties

One bad thing…

Of course, there are always going to be a couple of negative comments. Courtney, who visited Sherwood Pines for her birthday, said:

“One negative was that we could have gone on forever…[I] was gutted there wasn’t more!”

An endless Go Ape course…imagine that!

So, what are you waiting for? Book your Go Ape Adventure today and don’t forget to let us know how much you enjoy it!

Are you ready for National Gorilla Suit Day?

Go-Ape-Gorillas

Tomorrow is National Gorilla Suit Day, the day when men, women and children of all ages don their gorilla suits and stroll through their towns, visiting the neighbours and showing off their hirsute finery.

At Go Ape, we’ve been well known to ditch the cotton clothing for something a little more hairy in our time, so here’s a quick look back at our favourite Gorilla moments from last years Big Banana Relay.

Gorillas can’t drive. Who knew?!

Gorillas-Cant-Drive

 

But can change a tyre!

Go-Ape-Gorillas-Can-Change-A-Tyre

 

Luckily, when all else fails, there’s always paddling.

Gorilla-Goes-To-Sea

For those that don’t know, National Gorilla Suit Day bizarrely began after cartoonist Don Martin published a gorilla themed collection called Don Martin Bounces Back in 1963. A once fictitious concept, fans soon started celebrating National Gorilla Suit Day on 31st January, and we’re so glad they did!

Taken from the original paperback book, check out this clip of well-loved character Fester Bestertester, as he suffers a series of arrgh-aah-aah-mazing assaults from real (and not so real) gorillas.

 

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