ANDREW SHARRY has the best job in the world or the worst, depending on your fear of heights.
As general manager of Adventure World in Bibra Lake for the last nine years, he’s lost count of how many times he’s plunged, looped and spun on the theme park’s scary four—Abyss, Kraken, Inferno and the newbie Goliath.
But he never tires of it.
“You don’t get immune, but you experience something different each time you ride,” Mr Sharry told the Herald.
“This will never get boring.”
He says the challenge for developing new attractions is to find the right balance so customers experience thrill and exhilaration without actually losing their bowels.
He recalls one ride while checking out a park overseas that didn’t get that mix right and he considers it a fail.
“It was a tall tower drop in the States that was straight-up fear.”
Mr Sharry says he’s proud of his hands-on approach to developing Adventure World’s attractions, and says its cutting-edge harness technology keeps it ahead of the pack.
But there’s a lot more to running a successful theme park than mere rides: queues are an inevitable side-effect of a day at Adventure World (unless you’re wagging it) and a surprising amount of time is spent trying to work out how to make it a little more bearable.
“We put a lot of effort into it, so looking at things like making the queuing area in shade and insulating the roof, which comes at quite an expense.
“We have fans and water fountains to increase the comfort, and the team distract.”
The team he refers to are the dozens of youngsters who each summer usher people on and off the rides with a bit of banter and keep the unruly kids in line. Mr Sharry says they’ve helped launch hundreds of people into the workforce over the years and says one of the best aspects of his job is watching them blossom under the company’s training.
Another highlight is seeing people who came to Adventure World in the early 80s bringing their kids and grandkids along.
There’s also good business acumen in keeping locals coming.
Mr Sharry says research has shown that Adventure World appeals strongly to the UK market, and they’d like to get deeper into Malaysian and Singapore markets, but marketing to them isn’t as important as the endorsement of a friend who lives here.
Adventure World opened in 1982, just as the Kwinana Freeway pushed south and made it more accessible.
“Australian theme parks were in their infancy; Wonderland was three years away, Wet and Wild was just two years old,” Mr Sharry says.
“It was two years before Paul Hogan asked us to slip a shrimp on the barbie.
“Back then we had 12 attractions—now we have 29.”
by STEVE GRANT
351 Progress Drive, Bibra Lake