Park Spy — Winter 2018


The question: “I am bringing my family, and I want to know what options we have if we need to use the bathroom while geared up.”

Park #1, TX

First contact: Male.
Adventure Park Insider: Stated question.
Staff: Sure thing. So, before you gear up we advise everyone to use the bathroom before you get out on course. Once you get out on course, we do have port-o-potties available nearby if you need to go.
API: OK, how far are the port-o-potties?
Staff: Not too far.
API: Thanks so much. What about getting out of the gear?
Staff: It’s pretty simple to take the harness off. We have guides to show you and they will check your gear again before you come back on course.
API: Great. Thanks!
Staff: You got it.

Score: 7
Comment: Clear. Concise. But elaborating on how far is “not too far” would help guests feel more confident in the experience.

Park #2, VT

First contact: Female.
API: Stated question.
Staff: Well, we advise you to use the bathroom before you gear up, because if you pee in it you buy it! Haha!
API: Good to know.
Staff: Are you planning to do the challenge course or the zip tour?
API: I am not sure.
Staff: Well, if you’re going to use the challenge course you can come down and use the bathroom whenever you finish each course. If you’re on the zip tour you have to wait until you finish the course and that takes about two hours. So, you gotta hold it.
API: Ok, thanks.
Staff: You’re welcome!

Score: 5
Comment: Thrilled to know that I won’t be wearing a harness someone has peed in before, but be a little less graphic in your explanation. Gross.

Park #3, CA

First contact: Male.
API: Stated question.
Staff: Of course. Well, first off, we ask that you use the bathroom before putting on the harness. Once you’re geared up and out on the course, unfortunately due to the layout of the tour, we don’t have facilities on course, and while we can lower you to the ground mid-tour in an emergency, we cannot bring you back on course to rejoin your group.
API: That makes sense. How long does the tour take?
Staff: About 90 minutes. So it’s not a super long tour, and it goes really quickly when you’re having such a good time. We actually haven’t had to lower anyone because of a bathroom emergency as far as I am aware. It’s why we advise you to go before heading out.
API: Thanks for the advice.
Staff: No problem.

Score: 9
Comment: Great answer. Every facility is designed differently and canopy tours are not conducive to a mid-flight bathroom break. It just means you need to communicate this in advance.

Park #4, NV

First contact: Male.
API: Stated question.
Staff: You know, that’s not a question I get very often. Our tour takes about 2-2.5 hours. Is there a concern that you might need to take a break in the middle?
API: Well, you never know with kids, and I am a bit nervous about the whole thing and prefer to be as informed as possible.
Staff: I totally understand that. Don’t worry, we have bathrooms in our main building and advise everyone to go before they gear up. Is there a concern about a medical condition we should be aware of?
API: No, nothing like that. I just like to be prepared.
Staff: Gotcha!
API: So, there are no bathrooms on course?
Staff: Unfortunately not, but we have found that as long as people use the bathrooms before they go out, they don’t have a problem waiting the 2+ hours while on course.
API: Ok, thanks.

Score: 4
Comment: This is not a time to assume there are medical issues involved. Be more careful about when you choose to ask that question.

Park #5, FL

First contact: Male.
API: Stated question.
Staff: Our policy is that you cannot remove your harness until you have completed the course or decided that you are finished climbing. So you have to use the bathroom before you put the harness on.
API: What happens if my kids need to go to the bathroom?
Staff: (sounding stern) Well then they’ll have to come off the course and take the gear off and finish their climb for the day.
API: That seems a bit harsh, but good to know.
Staff: That’s the policy, it’s for your safety.
API: Good to know, thanks.

Score: 3
Comment: Your policies are your decision. If the layout of your course does not allow for bathroom breaks, that’s fine. But why do you need to make it sound like a harsh punishment?

Park #6, ID

First contact: Female.
API: Stated question.
Staff: Well, we have restrooms in our gear up/welcome area, so we advise that everyone use the bathroom before heading out on the course. You’ll be entirely in the air for the duration of the course, as a result we cannot allow you to remove your gear for your safety.
API: Well that makes sense. How long is the course?
Staff: It usually takes about two hours to get through the course. As far as I am aware, we haven’t had any issues as long as folks have used the restroom prior to gearing up. I mean, technically, a guy could use the bathroom if he needed, but then you’re getting into sanitary issues so we ask that you don’t.
API: I’ll be sure to pass that along to my husband.
Staff: Great. Any other questions I can answer?
API: Nope, that’s it. Thanks!

Score: 3
Comment: Sanitary issues might be the tip of the iceberg on that one. Ewww.

Park #7, AL

First contact: Male.
API: Stated question.
Staff: (sounding annoyed) We have bathrooms on site.
API: Great, are they easy to access from the course?
Staff: Well, you have to walk to them.
API: No problem. How far are they?
Staff: They’re not, like, right on the course. You have to walk to the main building.
API: OK, and what about all the gear? Is it easy to get off?
Staff: Not really, because it’s designed to hold you in case you fall.
API: Yes, I understand that, but since I assume we’d have to take the harness off if we wanted to use the bathroom, I was curious if we could do that on our own or if it’s difficult enough that we would need help.
Staff: We take care of gear up and gear down.
API: Thanks.

Score: 1
Comment: Actually, no thanks. Just because something is obvious to you doesn’t mean it is to a guest, so don’t sound annoyed when asked about it.


Park #8, CT

First contact: Female.
API: Stated question.
Staff: Excellent question! We advise that you arrive at least 20 minutes prior to your reservation. That will give you and your family plenty of time to fill out the waivers and use the bathroom prior to gearing up. Once you are in the harness it is not easy to get out of (laughs), so we advise you to utilize the facilities prior to heading out on the course. That being said, if you do need to take a bathroom break, just come right back to the main building and we will help you get your gear off and then gear back up when you are ready to go back out. If you do take your harness off for any reason we do need to have a trained staff member check it before you head back on course to ensure that your gear is set up properly.
API: Thanks! That was helpful. Does this happen often?
Staff: To be honest, not really. We try to make sure everyone is set to go before we go through the gear up process. However, we are more than happy to help you with your gear if you need to take a break during your climb time. Do you know when you are coming?
API: My husband booked it, so I am not 100 percent sure, but I think we’ll be there the weekend after next.
Staff: We’ll look forward to seeing you then! Please let us know if you have any other questions.
API: Will do!

Score: 10
Comment: Boom. Detailed explanation so I know what to expect, and did not make me feel like I was asking something silly.
Identity Revealed: Fields of Fire, CT


Bathroom breaks should be a softball question, right? When it comes to unfamiliar gear and unfamiliar experiences, something as simple as a bathroom break can become an amazingly complicated thing in the eyes of your guest. Your staff should be prepared to answer a question such as this without getting graphic, gross, or demeaning because what is obvious to you and me as industry veterans certainly may not be as obvious to your guests.

Furthermore, communicating what your guests should expect as part of their experience is a key part of the process (see “Guest Communication” on pg. 32). This is not limited to the rules and regulations of your organization. It should include basic things like where to park, how early to show up, and that a mid-tour bathroom break isn’t an option. Kudos to those parks who took my “softball” question and knocked it out of the park.


About Author

Sarah Borodaeff is the former research editor for Adventure Park Insider magazine and current freelance contributor. A professional ski bum and former zip guide, Sarah enjoys any excuse to talk about outdoor adventures.

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