Regulate Thyself

Arizona Watch has a great post today about our state government's foray into amusement park regulation after several folks were stuck on a local ride for a couple of hours. 

There are no major amusement parks in Arizona, although two large
ventures are apparently planned. Currently, inspections are handled by
insurance companies, who have a serious financial stake in maintaining
the safety of the rides. Insurers can't afford to have unsafe rides at
their client's amusement park. Compare that to the state, that has
exactly what at stake?

As an aside, Phoenix is an awful place for a roller-coaster and amusement park fan like myself to live.  Basically, we have no real amusement parks  (though there are some great ones about a 6-hour drive away in LA).  I have sat and pondered this a lot - why does a city this large with such a strong tourist economy not have a Six Flags type attraction?

The answer I guess is  that our season is wrong.  Our season is November-April, when the weather is nice.  Unfortunately, the kiddies are in school then.  During summer vacation months, Phoenix is a bit, uh, toasty (but its dry heat, as we tell our Thanksgiving turkey each year).  This answer is not totally satisfying, as uncomfortable summer cities like San Antonio and Houston have major theme parks.  Also, Phoenix has no real world class water parks (just a couple of places with 2 slides and a pool).  Maybe its because all the developpers here have golf courses on the brain.

Where do Phoenix people go for fun in the summer?  Well, if you are ever in San Diego or LA during the summer, check the license plates.  Then you will know where we are.


  1. Gary and the Samoyeds:

    Your mentioning LA reminds Me that Six Flags Magic Mountain used to be way out in the middle of nowhere, yet was quite popular. We used to drive 70 miles from Anaheim or Riverside to get there.

    How about someplace north of Phoenix at a higher elevation like, oh, Prescott or Camp Verde or someplace? It wouldn't be a horrible drive, yet would be cooler in the summer.

  2. Matt:

    Living thousands of miles from Arizona, I really don't care much about its dearth of amusement parks. But the comment on choice of inspectors brings up a thought.

    Cars go through two major crash-test batteries: one for the government, and one for a group funded by the insurance industry. As a result of this, we can infer something very important about car safety from the resulting advertisements: cars whose ads talk about how well they do in _government_ crash tests are less safe. The insurance industry has a very powerful incentive to be both honest and accurate about measuring safety in cars. Government bureaucrats, on the other hand, have an incentive to do the minimum possible, and to avoid giving undue offense to the politically powerful. They don't have to fudge the results to do's quite adequate to design tests in such a way that they fail to anticipate real world accident conditions. (Trust me, no one who's read both sets of standards is ever going to take the government's word about what's safe.)

    It's not that I trust the insurance business especially...I trust the incentives. The safer my car is, the more likely I'll spend years paying for insurance without experiencing a single incident which requires my carrier to send anybody a check. The safer my car is, therefore, the more profit my insurance carrier makes off of me. Their proxies in the crash test lab can fairly be expected, therefore, to be fully and properly diligent in measuring risks.

  3. Dan:

    I have long wondered why there were no world-class waterparks in Phoenix. The three we do have are all owned by the same company, Golfland Entertainment Centers, Inc. They're a de facto monopoly, with little reason to upgrade. Until somebody else jumps in the pool, so to speak, things will likely stay as they are.