Dunmore Adventure, Ireland, started as a watersports centre in 1993, offering windsurfing, sailing, kayaking and snorkelling to holiday makers and schools in the area. Early on the need for a broаder, weather proof range of activities occurred as a way to overcome the seasonal nature of the business. One such activity is the center’s artificial caving system, designed and produced by Walltopia back in 2014.
The cave was built into a part of Dunmore Adventure core building that was empty. With the cave it was successfully turned into a revenue stream for the park.
“The theming in the cave was the best and most realistic from any companies that we tendered, we even have an LED lava entrance which is always a big hit with everyone!”, shares Karen Harris, Owner at Dunmore Adventure, on their choice of Walltopia. “The cave is very easy to operate, we have safety hatches in the event that someone becomes claustrophobic and needs to get out quickly, although we have never had to use them for that purpose - just for maintenance.”, continues Karen.
In 2020 the center was awarded Best Small Business in Ireland as a recognition of their great service and ability to always up their game and add new challenges.
Dunmore Adventure’s cave was among the first in Walltopia’s portfolio. Ever since, Walltopia caves have risen in popularity. There are two main reasons for that trend - caves offer a unique mix of fun and education.
The rock realistic look of caves is achieved through the use of molds taken by real rocks and is produced from resistant glass fiber reinforced plastic (GFRP). Among the favourite authentic cave features are stalactites and stalagmites, fossils, lava and sumps.
Tours usually start with the operator’s briefing and then, depending on the length and complexity of the cave, can continue as a guided or not-guided tour. The guided tour brings in added value for parents and educational institutions as it gives kids both the adrenaline of the walk and helps them acquire new knowledge. Kids crawl through narrow tunnels with a variety of routes, squeeze through tiny holes and pass different obstacles that challenge them physically, just like in a real cave.
During a cave visit, kids are treated like little explorers and are given helmets, headlamps, knee and elbow protectors, as well as torches. They will are n ot only able to see and touch what a real cave is like, but also enjoy the sound and special lighting effects too.
Walltopia’s extensive knowledge with rock-realistic climbing walls made of GFRP, help the company develop its artificial caves to a level no other competitor can meet. Clients may choose through standard caves or go for a custom design. All caves come with a number of safety measures - fire resistant material, emergency exits throughout the tunnels, lights, ventilation system.
Read more on Walltopia Caves:
“The theming in the cave was the best and most realistic from any companies that we tendered, we even have an LED lava entrance which is always a big hit with everyone! The cave is very easy to operate, we have safety hatches in the event that someone becomes claustrophobic and needs to get out quickly, although we have never had to use them for that purpose - just for maintenance.
Karen Harris, The Harbour, Dunmore East, Ireland, Owner of Dunmore East Adventure Centre
Sunshine Coast Recreation Center
Caves are rich in stories to tell and are an unforgettable experience for both adults and children - they give you a sense of what life looked like as far back as 500 million years ago. You can even feel it by touching the rock formations which hide fossils of some of the first living beings to ever roam the planet. This way, you can see frozen in their daily behavior ancient animals, such as the trilobites, that were here long before even the first dinosaurs hatched.
Caves also give you the opportunity to walk in the steps of ancient humans and see traces from their life, including the earliest artworks in existence. You can see the handprint of a Neanderthal who lived in a Spanish cave some 64,000 years ago or a bull drawing made by a Borneo island inhabitant some 40,000 years ago. These artifacts don’t only give us information about our ancestors, but also bring us much closer to their way of life.
And last but not least, caves themselves are a sight to behold - they vary greatly in size and shape, as well as structure. They’re full of amazing cave formations, such as stalactites hanging from the ceiling or stalagmites rising from the floor. These incredible formations are composed of lava, minerals, sand or other material and take shape over millennia, some of them dated back to 100 000 years ago.
All this makes caves a remarkable opportunity for exciting discovery and an experience that is fun and educational at the same time. This is why, stepping on our background in the climbing and active entertainment industry, we developed the artificial cave experience - a combination of exciting learning and exploration, sports, fun and a healthy dose of adrenaline.
The rock realistic surfaces of their caves come with authentic cave features: stalactites and stalagmites, fossils, lava, sumps. In order to achieve that, we offer either of two materials widely used in the production of artificial caves - glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) which means sculptors shaping the concrete on the spot or glass fiber reinforced plastic (GFRP) which means it is composed by molds taken by real cave rocks.
GFRC can recreate any artistic impression while GFRP eases the process dramatically since it requires no work on the field. The choice between them is not intuitive as both can do the work, but if you aim at building a cave that can be an anchor attraction by itself, GRP is preferred. Experience-wise, that might be the biggest difference between the two. However, the authenticity of the cave experience doesn’t end with just the way they look.
Explorium National sport and Science Center
As with most things in life, first impressions matter in caves too. If done right, your experience - from the first step till the end, will feel like a real adventure, not just like a walk within beautifully made artificial rocks. The tour starts with the operator’s briefing and then, depending on the length and complexity of the cave, can continue as a guided or not-guided tour.
The guided tour brings in added value for parents and educational institutions as it gives kids both the adrenaline of the walk and the richness in knowledge. Having someone guide the dozen excited kids in a dark, tight, enclosed space and tell them where to stop and pay attention to different sites - as hand marking or animal painting - is key to maximizing the experience.
This way, the kids will have the chance to learn more and explore the wonders of speleology, walking through topic-related chambers dedicated to ancient life or stalactites. While on their quest, they will pass through tall tunnels resembling a real cavern, dive into sumps and hunt for treasures.
On their way, they will pass through various rock formations and learn about the underground world formed by nature. In some places, they will be crawling through narrow tunnels with a variety of routes, squeezing through tiny holes and passing different obstacles which will challenge them physically, just like in a real cave. The experience has that “wow” effect on people and is outstanding thanks to the variety of activities offered to the visitor, and as with many edutainment experiences - the more, the better.
The Caves are also gamified to enhance the adventure, feeding the kids’ natural curiosity for exploration beneath the surface. The platform encourages kids to collect points by hunting for hidden fossils or filling the volcano with lava as fast as they can. Other games include repeating the pattern of shining lights or choosing fossil animals or plants - a great way for the kids to learn while playing.
Dunmore East Adventure Centre
During their cave visit, kids are treated just like the little explorers they are and are given helmets, headlamps, knee and elbow protectors, as well as torches. They will not only be able to see and touch what a real cave is like, but also enjoy the sound and special lighting effects too.
Last but not least, as much fun as it is to think about all that one can experience in a cave, it’s important to remember they are enclosed spaces and as such, safety considerations are a must when buying one.
The cave must have a good ventilation system and emergency exits on every 10 meters for the tunnels. To maximize these measures, you can also add LED emergency lights and fire-resistant GRP.
We provide you with the opportunity to build your custom cave and ensure all safety measures are in place. This is why artificial caves are considered an excellent way to provide for your visitors a fun and secure encounter with knowledge about this world. Real, scary, fun and safe don’t usually go together, but that’s only until Walltopia steps in.
Walltopia constantly upgrades the artificial caves we offer in order to make them more fun and enhance the experience for the end-users. We develop new obstacles (like the recent addition of the Bridge and the Spider Net) and we add gamification features - our caves are currently the only ones on the market to offer the option of in-built educational games.
But the most important thing we focus on is safety. Artificial caves are by default, complex structures and require attention to details, in order to get things right. That is why our teams are making sure every element of potential danger is eliminated in the first place.
One of the ways we make sure our caves are safe is by carefully choosing materials used in the fiberglass structure. Every cave that Walltopia produces is made with fire-retardant GRP, which significantly reduces the risk of fire spreading through the tunnels and caverns. This is what allowed our caves to comply with the European standard EN 13501-1:2018.
In the video above, we are testing this in reality. Watch the comparison between a regular panel and our fire-retardant GRP to see what happens when each of them is treated with fire.
Walltopia’s expertise in the climbing industry and specifically in the design of rock-realistic climbing walls has naturally led to the idea of building artificial caves. To this day, we have installed 17 projects worldwide, one of them being Green Box in Beijing, China, which is the largest artificial cave in the world.
We are also the first company to produce walking exploration caves and integrate them with the Gamifier – a gamification system by our partners at Techtopia.
This year at the IAAPA Expo visitors at our booth #1686 will have the chance to experience one of our caves in real life. The model we’re showcasing features both walking exploration and gamification.
Edutainment in practice
The walking exploration cave consists of chambers that resemble real caverns. It offers an educational caving experience – the participants walk through various rock formations and learn about the underground world just as if it was formed by nature.
Level up visitors’ experience with Gamifier
The Gamifier is an interactive scoring platform that applies gamification principles to the world of active entertainment increasing the number of repeatable visits. When a Gamifier is integrated into a Walltopia Cave, it enhances the entire caving experience and makes it much more interactive. It features many fun games, a scoring system, and competitive modes. At the same time, the Gamifier has educational benefits, as many of its games are focused on acquiring knowledge about nature’s wonders. One of our favorite games is searching for and collecting fossils – the more you discover, the more points you score.