We have a unique way that we lay these parks out, marked by openness and a real heavy emphasis on the details, on the aesthetics of the park. So when people walk in, they feel like they are somewhere special. That’s been our calling card in the industry.
Why do we crave adrenaline? Think of all the dumb things people do to feed that burning desire to feel adrenaline course through their veins, a river of white-hot electricity taking them higher than any drug or drink. We jump out of airplanes with nylon parachutes attached to our backs, trusting that they will deploy and allow a graceful descent to the ground far below. We buy motorcycles and drive them haphazardly at breakneck speeds, judging that the feeling of screaming down a highway at 120 mph outweighs the risks involved. We longboard down narrow canyons, ski down steep mountains, and raft down monster rapids — adrenaline drives our behavior because once you taste its sweetness on your lips, very few things can compare.
So where do adrenaline junkies turn for their fix in 2016? There are obviously plenty of options, but one option in particular has been making waves in recent years — extreme recreation parks, where one can jump, zip, and fly to their heart’s content, basking in the super-charged experience of an adrenaline rush.
Case Lawrence, founder of CircusTrix, used to work in real estate. After deciding he wanted to work in anything but real estate, Lawrence visited a trampoline park in San Francisco (one of the first parks in the world) and realized the vast opportunity available within the industry. Trampoline parks are a far cry from real estate so Lawrence willingly accepted the challenge, moved to Utah, formed a team, and in 2011 created the first official CircusTrix park, Skywalk in Fresno, CA.
“That’s how the whole industry was at the time, a really fragmented mom-and-pop type environment,” Lawrence said. “Entrepreneurs were just making stuff up. There were a couple manufacturers, but you had to really dig down to find them, making trampolines on this scale for an indoor trampoline park environment. All the vendors were new and haphazard. The whole landscape was like the Wild West, just raw and rough and you really had to get your hands dirty to figure things out. It was tough but it was a lot of fun.”
CircusTrix opened their second location in early-2012 — Defy Gravity in Durham, NC — and buoyed by the success, Lawrence and his team began concentrating on building more and more parks. Each park is built based on a specific vision, one that is exclusive to each location — each has an original name, each contains original artwork and color scheme, each has a layout personalized to that location.
Like a sculpture whose work is shaped by their materials, CircusTrix also customizes each park based upon various factors, working closely with architects, muralists, and trampoline manufacturers to design the best experience possible.
“For these parks, we start with an existing building 90% of the time,” Lawrence said. “So you’re working with what you have, trying to transform this building that used to be a grocery store or ice skating rink. So we’re trying to take what we have and work with it to make the best park we can. It’s creativity in its ultimate manifestation. We found that we have a lot more to work with if we have a fresh brand for every one of these parks in each regional location. We’ve got a whole stable of brands and names for each of these parks and they’re unique to that location. This really helps us to put up a fence and create a local following on social media for that park.”
In the beginning, these indoor locations were run strictly as trampoline parks, large buildings filled with trampolines where a person could bounce and leap for days on end. As demand has risen for more ways to grab that adrenaline rush, CircusTrix has shifted to an extreme recreation park approach, exploring new tactics to corner the thrill-seeker market.
“When we first started doing these, they were 100% trampolines,” Lawrence said. “Now, our latest and greatest park is about 50% trampolines and 50% other attractions. We were actually the first one in America to roll out the Ninja Warrior obstacle courses and come up with an application in these trampoline park settings.”
We all have that friend who watches Ninja Warrior and says they could complete each obstacle course, usually to the scepticism of anybody who knows them. Now that doesn’t have to be speculation — take him/her to one of CircusTrix’s recreation parks, then hope they fail miserably so you can make fun of them and constantly remind everyone of their inadequacies.
When you’re done with the Ninja Warrior course, other options await. Who among us doesn’t want to zip across slacklines suspended over foam pits? Who among us doesn’t want to test our skills on the flying trapeze, or try to match the acrobatics of Cirque du Soleil performers using aerial silks and trampoline walls?
“We have a unique way that we lay these parks out, marked by openness and a real heavy emphasis on the details, on the aesthetics of the park,” Lawrence said. “So when people walk in, they feel like they are somewhere special. That’s been our calling card in the industry.”
With 30 current locations and 12 more set to open in 2016, CircusTrix is now the largest owner and operator of recreation parks in the world. Lawrence plans on continuing this growth, stimulated by constant innovation and personalized parks, while still honoring that element of extreme recreation providing every adrenaline junkie with exactly what they need.
“The industry has grown like crazy and trampoline parks have driven this recreation renaissance in America,” Lawrence said. “Miniature golf, arcades, outdoor go-cart tracks, that was kind of the old paradigm and in the last five years, this trampoline park industry that has emerged is driving a whole new paradigm. The landscape has changed so rapidly.”