Become a Ninja Warrior at Play: CLE
By Michael Evans

I’m the type of guy who likes to wake up on Saturday mornings, grab a cup of coffee, and scale a rock wall. I watch episodes of the hit television show American Ninja Warrior and wish I had a place to go where I could try out those wild obstacles. I often round up my friends and take road trips to various zip line courses in Ohio. If you’re anything like me, then you will absolutely love Play: CLE, the largest indoor adventure park in the nation, located just west of Cleveland in Avon.





Play: CLE is essentially an enormous playground for active kids and adventurous adults like myself. It just opened in December 2017 and was an instant sensation in Northeast Ohio, providing an outlet for folks who enjoy rock climbing, zip lining, parkour, obstacle courses, and high ropes courses. My friends and I drove in the pouring rain one Sunday evening this year to try it out for ourselves. We were unsure of what to expect, and didn’t know if the obstacles would be too easy or too difficult for our liking, but wanted to see for ourselves. When it was all said and done, we were more than satisfied with our visit to Play: CLE!





The giant 25,000 square foot building is rather plain on the outside, but incredibly vibrant and bright on the inside. Immediately when you walk in, you’ll see large orange letters spelling the word “CLE” (for Cleveland) that you can climb on top of for a perfect photo op. Behind the “CLE” is where the adventure awaits. After signing a waiver, paying for your visit (a 2-hour session is just $20 for kids and $25 for adults), and grabbing a locker, the fun is at your fingertips.



There are several sections to explore at Play: CLE, which you are free to explore in any order at your leisure. Some of these areas require special safety harnesses, like the rock climbing,zip lining, high ropes course, and special activities. The parkour, bouldering wall, warped wall, and on-the-ground obstacle courses do not require a harness. There are several employees who assist you with harnesses and belaying when you climb. Sometimes there is a wait for these harnesses, but thankfully we came at a time where there were no lines.





 

We started with the rock walls, which were unlike any that I had seen before. One was shaped like a series of over-sized Rubik’s cubes stacked on top of one another. My friends and I each took a side of the cube wall and attempted to race each other, but we soon found that this was the most difficult wall at Play: CLE! We opted to try another wall, which actually had a timer on it so you and your party could officially time one another. Hitting a button at the top would stop the timer, which definitely added to the fun. My favorite wall was a clear 2-sided wall, which allowed you to see through to the other side. You and a friend could simultaneously climb and see one another while doing so.

 




 

From the rock walls, we decided to try our hand at the warped walls, which look like giant bike ramps. These obstacles are popular on the aforementioned American Ninja Warrior and are often seen as the most challenging part of the show. It was cool to see these in person and take a stab at running up the curved wall. They had three warped walls, each one taller than the one before. Let’s just say that, although I was able to scale all 3 walls, it was not easy, and certainly not for everyone!

 




 

Another unique activity at Play: CLE was the “Leap of Faith,” which required you to climb up a ladder to a platform, and leap out (while harnessed) to clutch on to a punching bag or trapeze bar hanging several feet away. It was probably the scariest part of our visit, but it’s important to remember that everything at Play: CLE is safe and under supervision of professionals.

 




 

The on-the-ground obstacle courses (including the parkour course) were very challenging, but also the most fun! You could take obstacles on individually, or attempt to run through the entire course, which is timed via motion-activated sensors. Some of the things you’ll find here include monkey bars, trampolines, cargo nets, and various other elements that you’ll often find in a “Ninja Warrior” course. Directly overhead is the high ropes course, which has many of the same elements, except 25 feet in the air!  You can also access the zip line from here, which was a really thrilling way to end our evening.

 




 

Overall, my friends and I were super impressed by Play: CLE. It provides several levels of difficulty, so both children and adults can enjoy their stay. Additionally, there is a restaurant and bar right inside, so you can truly stay all day! We are hooked on coming to Play: CLE to get a rush of adrenaline, a great workout, and a unique experience to write home about. 

For more Ohio adventures, Find It Here at Ohio.org.

About the Author

Michael Evans is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a degree in Public Affairs Journalism and currently works for The Ohio Department of Transportation as a Legislative Liaison. Michael is additionally the creator of OHventures, an Ohio tourism blog that focuses on outdoor adventure and active lifestyle. He has many hobbies, including writing, hiking, biking, rock climbing, canoeing, running, lifting weights, traveling and photography. You can write to Michael at ohventuresblog@gmail.com.