Park Spy — Winter 2019


The question: “I’m a bit of a germaphobe. How do you clean your gear between uses?”

Let’s be honest, people are gross. We sweat, and when we sweat, we stink—especially when exerting ourselves. And then we share the stinky, sweaty gear.

So how does a germaphobe handle it? Operators have to deal with phobias all the time, but more often than not, it’s a fear of heights. We wondered what happens when a germaphobe calls up and asks just how clean the gear is?

Have a question we should ask for Park Spy? Send it to Sarah Borodaeff (sarah@  and, if we use it, you’re immune for one issue! We present all eight of this edition’s Spy missions here. Check out all the Park Spy missions online at and use them as training tools with your team!

Park #1, CA

First contact: Female.
API: Stated question.
Staff: Ummm, let me check, hold on please.
On hold…
Staff: Thanks for waiting. So, we wipe the helmets out between uses, but the harnesses can’t get cleaned between people, so if you’re uncomfortable with that, I’m not really sure what to say.
API: Do they get cleaned each night?
Staff: No.
API: Can I bring my own harness?
Staff: Unfortunately not, it’s a safety concern. We need to be able to check out all the equipment.
API: OK, that makes sense.
Staff: Yeah, I’m sorry, I wish I knew what to tell you.
API: That’s OK. Thanks anyway.

Score: 4
Comment: She was very nice, but “I wish I knew what to tell you” is not a good response for any question.

Park #2, IN

First contact: Male.
API: Stated question.
Staff: Great question! We spray the harnesses down between uses with this anti-bacterial spray. Just be forewarned that if we’re having a really busy day, the spray can make them feel wet if they don’t get enough time to completely dry between people, but once the spray is on there they’re good to go.
API: Noted. What about helmets?
Staff: We don’t actually use helmets on our adventure course, so nothing to worry about there.
API: OK, thanks.
Staff: Any other questions I can answer for you?
API: I think that’s it.
Staff: Have an awesome day!

Score: 6
Comment: While it’s a little gross that harnesses might still be wet, at least they’re clean! Guess I will try and go on a quiet day.

Park #3, FL

Answering phone: Automated machine. Chose operator.
First contact: Female.
API: Stated question.
Staff: Umm, I’ve never gotten that question before! Well, the helmets get wiped down and stuff. But there’s, like, not much we can do about dirt and stuff on the course, ‘cause it’s outside.
API: I’m not so much worried about dirt, but the course looks like it could be strenuous and people would sweat in the gear and I don’t like to share things like hats and clothes.
Staff: Yeah, OK. Well, like I said, we wipe it down and stuff so it wouldn’t be sweaty.
API: OK, just the wipe down of the helmets?
Staff: Yeah…
API: Thanks.

Score: 3
Comment: Yes, outside is dirty. On the phone, though, please clean up your approach to guest inquiries.

Park #4, WA

Answering phone: Automated machine. Chose operator.
First contact: Male.
API: Stated question.
Staff: Sure. So what we do is when guests come off the course, the guides take all their gear back and then spray the helmets down. The harnesses we can’t wash between uses just because they would need a lot of time to air dry, but we do wash them at the end of every season. So they were cleaned pretty recently and with the weather as it is right now people are dressed in long shirts and long pants and not really sweating a lot into the gear, so it’s really not that bad.
API: You said they were washed recently. We’re local, so maybe I could try and schedule my visit for the first day after you wash them again?
Staff: Sure, that’s definitely an option. We don’t have it scheduled right now, but we typically do it during down time. We’ll close for a bit between seasons to do maintenance and that’s when that will happen.
API: OK, then maybe that’s what I’ll do.
Staff: Great, just stay tuned to the website, or actually our Facebook page because that will have the most current info on it when we’re shutting down for maintenance, and then you can call and confirm if we’re doing a harness wash then.
API: Thanks!

Score: 9
Comment: Nice, very detailed answer and covered the bases. Bonus points for the website and social mention.

Park #5, GA

First contact: Male.
API: Stated question.
Staff: Well, we don’t really… I mean, you can’t wash harnesses.
API: Not ever?
Staff: Well, I’m sure they get cleaned from time to time, but you can’t just throw a harness in a washing machine.
API: I wasn’t asking if you put them in a washing machine, I was just curious if you clean them between uses, wipe them down, or spray them with something, or anything?
Staff: No, you can’t just spray Windex or something like that on them because it breaks down the fibers.
API: Gotcha. Thanks.

Score: 2
Comment: Thanks for making me feel like a weirdo, dude. Most people don’t know that you can’t just throw a harness in the washer. There’s a right way and a wrong way to speak to guests. This was the wrong way.

Park #6, TX

First contact: Female.
API: Stated question.
Staff: Sure thing. So we wipe the helmets down between uses and then spray them down with this anti-bacterial spray. The harnesses we wipe down with a wet cloth. Unfortunately, we can’t do a full wash between every use, but we keep an eye on them and if there are any that are truly dirty then we’ll pull them from rotation so they can be properly cleaned.
Staff: The one thing I will mention is that we give everyone gloves to wear. Those are probably the dirtiest thing we’ll give you since, unlike the harnesses that are worn over your clothes, they actually touch skin. If you don’t want to wear the gloves we give you, we do have them for sale in our retail shop so you can get a brand new pair.
API: Thanks! That’s a great idea.
Staff: I’m so glad. Is there anything else I can do for you?
API: That’s it, thanks.

Score: 7
Comment: Have you ever stuck your hand into some of those guest gloves? Yuck. Great suggestion on the gloves.

Park #7, HI

First contact: Female.
API: Stated question.
Staff: Umm, I’m not sure about that. Hold please.
Staff: Never mind, I thought I was going to have to answer that but someone else did it. Anyway, you’ll have to call the main office at (phone number) to get that information.
API: Thanks.
Call #2
Answering phone: Male.
API: Stated question.
Staff: You know, I’m new here, so I’m not really sure. Let me check. Hang on.
On hold…
Staff: OK, so there’s no one here with that answer, but if you call the reservations line at (first phone number) then they’ll be able to answer that question for you.
API: I just tried to call them they directed me to you.
Staff: Oh no! Ummm (nervous laughing), maybe if you call again you’ll get someone else who might know?
API: Thanks, anyway.

Score: 1
Comment: Not good. Rather than volley me back and forth, take my name and number and call me back with the answer.

Park #8, CA

First contact: Female.
API: Stated question.
Staff: Absolutely. So, the helmets get sprayed down with an anti-bacterial spray similar to what you would see at a bowling alley. Then the harnesses get washed in warm soapy water and left to air dry.
API: Wow. And that’s between every use?
Staff: No, actually, the harnesses get washed at the end of every day if they were used during that day. They get used probably once to twice a day depending on how busy we are. If you’re worried about it, I would try and make sure that you come earlier in the day, that way you’re the first use on that harness. You can also make sure to wear something like a crew neck t-shirt or long sleeve and longer shorts or pants. That way the harness isn’t making direct contact with your skin, which is honestly better because the material can rub a bit when you’ve weighted the harness.
API: Thanks, that’s a good idea.
Staff: You can also wear a hat underneath the helmet if you want. A lot of people do that for sun protection. Not all hats fit, though. Some are a bit bulky or squarer on top and they won’t fit so we let them know to try the helmet on with their hat before going out. The baseball hats that are more flexible tend to work
really well.
API: Great idea.
Staff: Is there anything else I can answer for you?
API: Nope, that’s it. Thanks!

Score: 10
Comment: She knew the answers, and also went out of her way to provide suggestions that might make me feel more comfortable. Nice work!

Identity Revealed: Skull Canyon Zipline


This question is not about how often you clean your gear. That is between you and your supplier. They all have guidelines for how to clean, how often to clean, what products to use, etc. Get that information and follow it.

This question is about how the person answering the phone responds to the guest. Skull Canyon won this round not because of how clean they keep their gear (kudos, though, for explaining it clearly!), but because my contact offered options to make me feel more comfortable and didn’t make me feel like a weirdo for asking. Inform callers about what to wear, when to arrive, etc., because those little tidbits can have a huge impact on the guest experience, before a guest even arrives at your park.

And let’s be honest: This is not any different than dealing with someone who has a fear of heights. Listen to the guest’s question and politely address concerns as best you can within the operating procedure of your course.

Park #3 hit upon a key point: “I’ve never gotten that question before!” What are some of the weird, one-off questions that you’ve heard at your operation? Did someone ask if they could zip with their baby? Or perhaps if they could borrow your equipment for the day? Throw Park Spy the curveball questions you’ve received this season. We’re always looking for real-world examples!


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.

Leave A Reply