The World’s Most Dangerous Amusement Park
I still remember driving two hours from home in Connecticut for several summers in a row as a teenager to visit Action Park in Vernon, New Jersey. If you haven’t heard of it, watch this video. I vividly recall walking by this loop-the-loop water slide near the entrance. The slide didn’t work correctly - which they discovered after a few weeks of operation - but the park’s owners were too cheap to demolish and remove it.
This was a place where you KNEW that if you weren’t at least a little bit careful, you could get badly hurt. In fact, every few years somebody died. But for the most part, you’d get friction burns, sprain an ankle, or maybe break a few bones.
This place really existed. And, predictably in hindsight, it eventually shut down due to lawsuits in 1996.
A lot of people from my generation still remember riding our bikes through neighborhoods all summer long, without helmets or plans for the day. For most of the summer, we would yell goodbye in the morning, wander for miles all day long, and usually get home in time for dinner. No cell phones, and maybe a call home during the day if we were going to stay over at a friends’ house for dinner. Kind of like a daily trip to Action Park.
Startups are a lot like Action Park. There’s real risk involved – risk to your finances, risk to your health, and risk to your reputation. But the rewards, like spending summer days at Action Park, are equally sweet. Do you want to spend your life at Disneyland, mostly waiting in line for a few minutes of antiseptic thrills? Or do you want to spend it jumping off of cliffs and speeding down hills without guardrails at Action Park?