It’s been 29 years since the first Jamaican bobsled team competed in the Calgary Winter Olympics, a story that was made into the cult Disney film – Cool Runnings. And the good news is, you don’t need to wait for the sequel, you can have a bobsledding adventure of your very own. Here’s how…
Jamaica has a long list of famous exports, from Usain Bolt and Bob Marley to James Bond and jerk chicken. And of course, there’s Cool Runnings – a nineties Disney classic based on the real-life Jamaican bobsled team who made their bid for Gold at the Calgary Winter Olympics in 1988. Filming took place along the west coast of Jamaica between Negril and Montego Bay, and in Lucea, too. Remember the scene where the team are fundraising for their Olympic bid? That’s outside the Lucea Municipal Building near our Grand Palladium Jamaica Resort and Spa hotel.
You’ll find the original bobsled on display at Montego Bay Airport at the Jamaican Bobsleigh Cafe along with signed memorabilia from the team. And, you can even have your own bobsled race on Mystic Mountain in Ocho Rios. The action-packed adventure park crams in an aerial gondola ride, a bobsledding adventure, 10 zip-lines and even an infinity pool and waterslide. We put it to the test to see how much fun you can have on a mountain in one day…
Our adventures on Mystic Mountain started in the most exhilarating way – with an 8-minute gondola ride to the top of the mountain. You might have been on a ski lift before, but have you taken one through the jungle? It’s an entirely different experience. The speedy lift ascends swiftly over the treetops of the rainforest and you’ll take in spectacular views of the bay and sea below, travelling over 700 feet above the Caribbean Sea. Once we got our heads around the height, we were able to enjoy the incredible views (it’s so peaceful up there!) and take a few snaps.
We hopped off at the top and went straight over to the bobsled to get the Cool Runnings experience. The 1,000 metre tree-lined track twists down the mountainside and through rainforest, and best of all, the Jamaican-inspired bobsled looks just like the ones from the films. You can ride on your own, in tandem, or even as a family with all the bobsleds linked together. You just need to make sure you trust your driver at the front, because they can use the handbrake to slow down and take in the pretty surroundings or really crank up the speed. We decided to do what the real Jamaican bobsled team would do, and go full throttle. Because, how fast can it be?
All we were missing was a lucky egg. But thankfully, we made it to the end in one piece. The ride might have started off nice and slowly, but as we plummeted down, we reached an exhilarating speed of around 40 mph and the landscape became a bit of a blur. Once the ride finishes, a lift takes you back to the top of the mountain and you can ride again if you fancy and try to beat your own record.
Museum, hummingbirds and butterflies
Before getting ready for the next adrenaline-packed adventure, there was plenty to see at the top of the mountain. There’s a Butterfly and Hummingbird Attraction Garden which has been designed to attract the creatures in their natural environment. You can spot native species of hummingbird among the plants including Jamaican Mango, Eastern and Western Streamertail and the Vervain Hummingbird which is the second smallest bird in the word. There’s also a small museum which displays bobsledding and sports memorabilia, and a café where you can grab a snack. There’s even an infinity pool and waterslide where you can cool off and get views over Ocho Rios.
There’s only one way to get down the mountain, and that’s on a zip-line or ten. Ok, well you could take the sky explorer but that’s hardly the most exciting option. There are ten zip-line platforms to cross with increasing difficulty – each one seemed to get longer and higher. You can even see the ocean in the distance from the longest line. The friendly, fun loving guys who run the zip-line tour make the experience even more fun, and entertain you as you go. There were a few apprehensive members of our group, but by the end we were all zip-lining pros.