Sunday, January 16, 2005

Amusement Industry Addresses Steroid Problems

Responding to what one insider calls "one of the greater threats to the credibility and sanctity of the amusement industry in modern times," the heads of most major North American amusement parks began what is expected to be an extensive set of negotiations with the Union of International Thrill Ride Designers today. At issue is the rampant use of steroids present in the American amusement industry.

"This industry is all about being the biggest, the fastest, the longest, the most shaped like a giant penis," notes Amusement Business Assistant to the Regional Manager Garreth Brent. "With that being the case, many parks put a great deal of pressure on designers to come up with creations beyond their normal means, and that's where the performance-enhancement products come in to play. Amusement parks are all about records and statistics, and this common use of illegal substances puts current performances into question."

Steroid use has become so prevalent in the amusement industry, what was once considered a "dirty little secret" has now become an open advertisement, sometimes even point of pride and park advertising.

"Major park chains are the obvious and blatant offenders," states Brent. "Six Flags has Deja Vu, which is frequently described as 'an Invertigo on steroids.' And then Cedar Point has the Gemini, widely advertised as a 'mine train on steroids.' Large B&M inverted coasters like Alpengeist are quite commonly referred to as 'ski lifts on steroids.' And then you have major, deeply respected amusement industry gurus like Paul Ruben being quoted in publications as declaring that Mr. Freeze is like a 'paper clip on steroids.' It's really out of control."

"However," adds Brent, "many people are surprised to learn that smaller parks and rides are cheating by using illegal performance-enhancement products, as well. For instance, who hasn't heard that wild mouse at Idlewild being described as a 'mouse on steroids?' But if you think about it, it's really quite logical that small parks would feel the need to compete with the major ones, so steroid use has actually become rampant in the minor leagues, too."

Officials from both sides of the negotiations have not confirmed what punitive action will be taken against new offenders, but have acknowledged that it will be essentially impossible to retroactively punish anyone for past transgressions. This may unfortunately leave some recent record-setting performances, such as those by the controversial Top Thrill Dragster, with a permanent asterisk by them.

--JCK