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Park News www.parkworld-online.com


Park Bloggin’ By Dr. Jack B. Samuels, M.B.A. – The Fun Doctor Ramping up the risk factor W


hen the Action Park waterpark first appeared near my home at Vernon, New Jersey, which was recently


memorialised in the movie 'Action Point,’ I knew that the birth of a new era of commercial recreation/attractions facilities had occurred. From the years I spent in the Boy Scouts plus my


parks and recreation education program from SUNY Cortland, I immediately knew we were on to something in Northern New Jersey’s hills. Thanks to ‘experimental elements’ being tried out all the time, over the years the park earned the moniker of ‘traction park’ because of the numerous accidents that occurred. We learned from these experiments, however, that recreational activities that are controlled but hover on the edge of lunacy could indeed be very popular. I even contributed one of the major attractions via a research project for then CEO Gene Mulvihill: a live daily participatory ‘American Gladiators’ type show. It was a forerunner to attractions like Universal Studios’ extreme audience participation show ‘Fear Factor Live’. I predict that the ‘active recreation’ trend in


attractions is likely to strongly continue in upcoming years thanks to the following factors: Firstly, it costs much less to build these attractions


than ride and show parks., Secondly, active recreation can provide an exercise and personal achievement factor that roller coasters and other ride-oriented attractions (generally classified as passive or entertainment activities by leisure theorists) cannot. This, along with a higher degree of controlled risk, make these activities extremely attractive to the thrill-seeking public. And thirdly, active recreation is adaptable: it can be built with a single activity (such as a trampoline park); multiple (just a few activities) or very large-scale with multiple activities.


Planet Obstacle in Lake Mary, Florida illustrates


the strength of larger multi-activity facilities. Among its many activities are Ninja Warrior Courses, Giant Rock Climbing Walls, Bumper Cars, and Jungle Gyms. At time of writing, Planet Obstacle had sold over 10,000 weekday-only Groupon passes at $28 each and had received over 765 ratings with an average score of 4.8 stars out of 5.


Dr. Samuels has written over 250 articles for the amusement, theme park and entertainment industries and provides diverse consulting services. He can be reached at samuelsj@mail.montclair.edu


Consider that active participation is considered


by leisure theorists to be one of the higher and more wholesome forms of recreation. You may wish to read the book Philosophy of Recreation and Leisure, by Dr. J.B.Nash. This classic book that was actually published in 1953 gives great insight into the dynamics of recreational activity. You can learn why you should try to add some creative twists to your facility that would provide additional excitement as well as why active participation is very attractive to the consumer. Finally: always consider that risk is somewhat


important to making these types of facilities exciting to the consumer. The main caveats are that the risk must be perceived to be controlled by the participant and that the risk overall must be relatively safe.


If you are thinking about developing these types of facilities you might wish to consider the following factors first.


• Check out the safety records for each type of facility. Equipment suppliers are getting more and more savvy at making sure their incident rates will be low which is, of course, highly important for longevity of operations. • Consider the activity level in proportion to different age groups. Give the less active something to do whilst they wait for the more able-bodied folks.


• Provide designs for progressive and more difficult features may be able to be added as people conquer what you had on opening.


8


NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2018


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