Water Park Entrepreneur Did Not Use “Market Research or Long-Term Planning”

(p. 12) . . ., “someone had tied off the ankles and sleeves of an old janitorial jumpsuit, stuffed it with sand and fabricated a head out of a plastic grocery bag,” Mulvihill writes in his new book, “Action Park: Fast Times, Wild Rides, and the Untold Story of America’s Most Dangerous Amusement Park.” “The makeshift dummy cleared the loop but emerged decapitated.”

. . .

What’s the most surprising thing you learned while writing it?

I knew my father was a risk taker, but I never really understood the size of the risks, and the sheer tenacity and confidence he possessed to take them on. He was fearless.

I look back on the incredible number of crazy ride ideas and the inventors he’d back to develop those ideas, and it just blows you away. Some of them never worked out, but the ones that did were incredible. He didn’t rely on market research or long-term planning; he acted on gut instincts. Contrast it with the bigger parks and all of their exhaustive analysis.

. . .

Who is a creative person (not a writer) who has influenced you and your work?

My father. He was a creative genius and a driven entrepreneur. It’s one thing to have dreams and ideas, it’s another to execute them. He never took no for an answer — whether from an investor, regulator, inspector or government official.

He invented the water park and participation rides where you controlled the action, where you were in control of your own destiny. He was really the precursor to extreme sports and the X Games, only he did it at an amusement park. He wanted to show people something they’d never seen before. He never settled for mediocrity — that was boring. If you’re going to do something, go all out. Shoot for greatness. Do not check the box, blow it up. I’d like to think I’ve led my life embracing that premise.

For the full interview, see:

John Williams, interviewer. “5 THINGS ABOUT YOUR BOOK; Risky Business? That’s Really an Understatement.” The New York Times (Monday, July 13, 2020): C5.

(Note: ellipses, and bold font, added.)

(Note: the online version of the interview has the date July 12, 2018, and has the title “5 THINGS ABOUT YOUR BOOK; ‘Action Park’ Looks Back in Amusement and Terror.” The first couple of sentences and the bold questions are from the interviewer Williams. The unbold answers to the questions are from Andy Mulvihill. [Added later: I just figured out that in this blogging template, within the italics block quotations, bolded text does not appear to be bolded.])

The book discussed in the interview is:

Mulvihill, Andy, and Jake Rossen. Action Park: Fast Times, Wild Rides, and the Untold Story of America’s Most Dangerous Amusement Park. New York: Penguin Books, 2020.

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