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Park News

ParkBloggin’ By Dr Jack Samuels

Get Active!

As Park World’s resident “fun doctor,” this summer I travelled to many places including China, Singapore and Italy. In all of these places, one trend became clear: the amusement industry’s increasing focus on “active” adventures and experiences.

One of the big boom areas is ropes courses. When I first saw such products at the IAAPA trade show a few years back, I knew they would be a winner. One of the most interesting things about them is that they fit well at all kinds of leisure facilities, from waterparks, amusement parks and family fun centres to campgrounds and historic attractions. Some recent noteworthy installations in North America include Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America, Minnesota; Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee (pictured); and Howe Caverns near Cobleskill, New York (see page 32).

At Singpore’s Sentosa Island, visitors can enjoy the Mega-Zip Adventure Park, a zip line adventure set in a naturalised environment, or the less energetic Segway Nature Experience that allows guests to tour a nature trail aboard a single-passenger Segway vehicle. Even a simple playground or trampoline provides a great way for your guests to burn off a few calories while enjoying the great outdoors.

I believe there are a variety of reasons why these activities are so attractive. Here are a few: • People like controlled risk activities. Consider that some people would rather go sky diving than fly on a plane. In a plane you have no control of your fate, but when you are skydiving to some extent you do. Ropes courses and zip lines provide controlled risk activities that feature challenge, choice, competition and educational elements. • There is strong appeal to fun activities that allow the participant to be actively rather than passively involved. Years ago the recreation philosopher JB Nash chronicled the fact that passive activities do not “reward” the participant, and as such are not very engaging. Adventure activities are in this way different from most traditional amusements. • Active experiences promote strong social interaction, and are often used for team building. They are great for teens to compare and compete with each other and bind families together in a common and shared experience that will provide lifelong memories. • Another driver behind the current trend is the environmental perspective. As humans we need to be “at one” with the outdoors. Not only that, but active attractions are often low on power consumption, reducing your facility’s energy bills and carbon emissions. For more information on putting adventure activities into harmony with your facility I suggest you visit, the website of the Association for Challenge Course Technology. Here you will find other viewpoints about this growing type of activity as well as information regarding management of such facilities including insurance and risk analysis. Have a great and profitable adventure!

Dr Samuels has written many articles for the amusement and entertainment industries. He provides diverse consulting services in marketing, facility development, customer service, safety, crowd and event management, plus promotional activities programming such as birthday parties. He can be reached at

10 OCTOBER 2011

Yas Island waterpark Ferrari World’s new neighbour

Set to be completed in late 2012, Abu Dhabi’s eagerly-awaited waterpark at Yas Island will have a unique Emirati theme, its creators have announced. The 15-hectare facility, now under construction, is being developed by Aldar Properties. Located adjacent to Ferrari World Abu Dhabi it is one of the next key pieces in the jigsaw designed to turn Yas Island into a major Middle East leisure destination. The “Lost Pearl” storyline will guide guests

through more than 40 exciting rides, slides and other attractions as they follow the adventures of Dana, a local girl in search of an exquisite pearl that brings prosperity to the diving people of her village. Complementing the waterpark attractions, many of which will be supplied by WhiteWater, will be a diving show celebrating Emirati heritage. “The Waterpark on Yas Island will be one of the most advanced anywhere in the world, with many unique rides,” notes park manager Mike Oswald. “Youngsters from the UAE [United Arab Emirates] and across the globe will love the immersive story we tell during their experience.” The new facility will become the fourth major waterpark in the UAE following

Wild Wadi and Aquaventure (Atlantis) in Dubai and Ice Land in Ras al Khaimah. Like Ferrari World it will be operated by Aldar subsidiary Farah Leisure Parks Management. Other existing Yas Island attractions include the Formula 1 Yas Marina Circuit and Yas Links Golf Course.

Cedar Fair disposes of California park

In an effort to reduce the group’s debt, Cedar Fair has agreed to sell its Great America amusement park in Santa Clara, California. The buyer is JMA Ventures LLC, a California-based real estate investment firm, which will pay $70 million in cash. Cedar Fair bought the park in 2006 as part of its acquisition of the Paramount Parks business in North America. “Our decision to divest of Great America park was not an easy one,” says

Cedar Fair CEO Dick Kinzel. “This is a quality park that has terrific employees and serves a strong market. That being said, as part of our regular comprehensive review of our portfolio of parks, we determined that divesting a smaller park like California’s Great America at an attractive market value created an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.”

The transaction, which is subject to approval by the City of Santa Clara and customary closing conditions, is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.

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