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Park Play/Pricing

undertaken in the UK by a registered and certificated annual outdoor inspector from the Register of Play Inspectors International (RPII) and is commissioned by the play company or park operator. Pease refer yo the relevant inspection body in your country. Once the Inspection is complete and satisfactory, responsibility for safety passes to the park operator who must put in place a rigorous inspection regime, as set out in BS EN 1176, the British standard for play equipment (or your local equivalent). According to the RPII, best practice is to adopt a three-tier inspection regime:

1) Routine visual inspection. Observation of the play space should be made by a trained staff member looking for obvious hazards like missing or broken parts, broken glass or vandalism. This should take place weekly in low season and daily in high season.

2) Operational inspection. A more detailed structural examination of wear, tear and stability of equipment should also by carried out by a trained staff member every three months in low season and once a month in high season.

3) Annual main inspection. An annual inspection by a qualified external RPII annual outdoor inspector (or equivalent in your country) to ensure compliance with standards and overall safety.

Adding a well-designed, well-maintained, fun play area with top quality, challenging equipment will ensure that families return to your park or attraction year after year. But how can park operators be sure that they are working with a reputable play company that installs the best quality equipment, operates to the highest standards and is financially stable? Well that’s easy – they can turn to a professional trade body they can trust. For advice on all things play-related, operators need look no further than the Association of Play Industries (API).

The API represents manufacturers, installers, designers and distributors of outdoor and indoor play equipment and safety surfacing, and has been in existence for 30 years. Its member companies are experts in play design, operate to the highest standards, abide by a strict professional code of conduct and are credit-checked and monitored regularly for financial stability and security. API member companies consultant closely with clients to provide recommendations on design, equipment, materials and safety surfacing that meet the required budget and brief, and they explain all there is to know about inspection, maintenance and repair.

Deborah Holt is manager of the Association of Play Industries (API) and can be contacted on +44 24 7641 4999 ext. 208 or api@api- Follow the API on Twitter @apiplay For details of API member companies supplying play equipment to theme parks and amusement parks visit

Image courtesy Russell Play

Once upon time, if you wanted to ride the best rides, you bought an E-ticket, Disney’s top tier attraction ticket. These days, a vast array of higher end experiences are available to theme park guests willing to pay for the privilege. Clara Rice reports

the jump-the-line pass was born, free at Disney but available for an extra charge at many other parks. Then came Disney’s Extra Magic Hours. Reserved, front row show seating, dining packages and overnights at Cinderella’s Castle followed. Now a family of four can choose to pay thousands of dollars for a single day’s entertainment. So where does this keeping up with the Joneses end? And what does this mean for the “little guy” that cannot afford such luxury? Is this trend “along the lines of class warfare” as one Time Magazine article posited, or is in just the natural function of a capitalist society?


Some theme park upcharge options offer a little piece of luxury at a (relatively) low cost. Beyond line-skipping passes, which range from $30- $70 per day, many of these up-sell experiences consist of guided tours and opportunities to see parts of the park inaccessible to the general public. Visitors can Dine with Shamu at a SeaWorld park, enjoying an all-you-

can-eat seafood buffet and a behind-the-scenes killer whale demonstration starting at $29. Instead of behind-the-scenes, guests can go “Behind the Seeds” at EPCOT’s Land Pavilion, in which they interact with plants, insects and fish on a $20 educational walking tour. The Magic Kingdom’s $79 Keys to the Kingdom Tour offers guests a chance to hop on three rides, peek into the park’s underground utility tunnels, and take home an exclusive keepsake. And at Busch Gardens Tampa, an additional $99 per person buys a five-hour Guided Adventure Tour of the park, front of line access to most major rides, lunch,and a Serengeti Safari, which includes an open-air tour of the park’s Serengeti Plain and an opportunity to feed a giraffe. Those willing to shell out a little extra money can breeze past their general admission counterparts on ride queues and sneak into “secret” passages and doorways.

Name your price

But those willing to shell out a lot of extra money enjoy a whole other level of exclusivity. Legoland Florida’s $495 VIP experience offers a personal VIP escort, the opportunity to open the park with a Legoland character, an exclusive tour of the model shop, priority access to rides and attractions, lunch, park admission, parking and photographs. Discovery Cove’s Trainer for a Day Ultimate Package includes a 30- minute dolphin interaction, a private photo session with two dolphins, an opportunity to feed tropical fish and a shark, meet-and-greets with birds and other animals, a behind-the-scenes tour of animal support areas, the ability to shadow a trainer for a day, and a 14-day pass to all of SeaWorld’s Orlando parks. The experience costs a hefty $483-$563 per person, depending on time of year, but given that this exclusive park’s single day dolphin swim experiences start at over $200 it could be viewed as a relatively good value package. As usual, Disney and Universal take

An original E-Ticket – once the only top tier Disney ticket

40 FEBRUARY 2015

s “pay to play” amusement parks became superseded by pay- one-price theme parks, operators had to discover a way to increase per cap spending by offering premium experiences. So

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