Some businesses impact their customers forever. Legendary amusement resort Action Park in Vernon Valley/Great Gorge, New Jersey, may fight for the top prize ever for building the most loyal, appreciative customers. (In fact, a Hulu series based on Action Park is in the works.)
Why so legendary? Between 1978-96, Action Park offered its customers more freedom and more ways to test themselves than any amusement park ever. You could jump off a cliff while hundreds of people watched (or get jeered at if you took too long or chickened out).
There were water slides so fast you could fly off them. Some rides, like the notorious Cannonball Loop, would bang you around and were shut down almost as fast as they were opened. Johnny Knoxville of MTV’s Jackass series even said his daredevil activities were inspired by his experiences at Action Park as a boy.
Our host Michael Bernoff was also inspired and impacted positively from Action Park. He loved going to the park as a kid and loves to tell about being catapulted out of a slide. Action Park is extreme in its freedom–but also authentically dangerous – both of which entice the thrill seeker inside.
Michael sits down in this week’s episode of The Average Sucks Show with Andy Mulvihill, the son of Action Park founder Gene Mulvihill.
Andy is a developer who runs hotels, restaurants, and real estate in Sussex County, NJ. How he became the man he is today is largely in part to being the son of Action Park’s creator, Gene Mulvihill. As a kid, Andy and his siblings were often one of the first to test out these incredible rides at one of the most famous parks in the world – which is a very unique childhood! Yet, it was his father’s work ethic and creativity that taught him the skills that have helped him achieve the success he has today. Andy tells all in his just-published book, Action Park: Fast Times, Wild Rides, and the Untold Story of America’s Most Dangerous Amusement Park.
Andy said his father wanted to create a powerful experience for his customers, whom he trusted to care for their own safety while pushing their limits.
Gene had a philosophy behind it: He wanted his customers to use the rides to take control over their own fear and terror. So you could swing over a pool, or dive off a cliff, or speed down a massive slide–and you had to let go yourself. It pushed your limits.
Just like being an entrepreneur. If you want to succeed as an entrepreneur, Andy offers this advice:
(1) Pursue your business with wild abandon and be exuberant about it. Ordinary is boring and “Average Sucks.” Be extraordinary; it keeps your interest up and gets your customers excited.
(2) Trust your customers and your employees. They will always remember you for trusting them and you will earn higher levels of loyalty than almost any other way.
(3) Look for a business with big profit margins. You will need to learn as you go. That means you will make mistakes. With big margins, you’ll have room to recover. (Plus, Andy says, “Why do it if it’s not going to promise a big reward?”)
Near the end, Andy and Michael have an insightful discussion about the future and how now is a great time for entrepreneurs to seize opportunities. You definitely want to listen to this powerful conversation.