Vote of the Week: What is Your Theme Park Dream Job?
Have you ever dreamed about working in a theme park? Many of us here on Theme Park Insider have worked in the parks, as the site's name suggests. (I even wrote a book about my experiences
working at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.) But many theme park fans who've only visited harbor dreams about one day quitting their job up north (or wherever) to stay and make going to the park their full-time job instead.
Theme parks offer a wide variety of jobs — from waiters and servers and store cashiers to ride attendants to monorail drivers to musical and character performers to just about every "back of house" job you can imagine. Work in auto-repair shop? You could get a job maintaining fleet and ride vehicles for a theme park. Do accounting? Yeah, theme parks need to keep track of their money, too. Work in health care? Theme parks not only have first-aid stations for guests, some of them now even operate health clinics for their employees, too. Heck, several former senior Disney Imagineers have talked about all the former defense industry workers that Disney hired to help design attractions after the big layoffs among defense contractors in the Los Angeles area after the end of the Cold War.
Ultimately, though, it's the pay that keeps many theme park fans from chasing their dreams. Few front-line, in-park jobs pay more than $10 per hour. Plenty of back of house employees earn enough to make a career, but in-park attraction, cashier, server, and entertainment positions typically see high turnover rates, as employees/cast members/team members either move on to school, other careers, or better-paying jobs elsewhere in the company.
Still, wouldn't some of these jobs be fun? Some people do find ways to be able to afford to stay in low-paying jobs. When I worked at Disney World, I saw many positions held by retirees who relied on their pensions for their livelihood and came out to work in the parks just for the joy and satisfaction of it. I even encountered a few younger employees who never seemed to be short of cash, despite their job's low pay. Former lottery winner? Trust-fund baby? Graduate of the Walter White School of Supplementary Income? I never knew.
So let's set aside financial concerns for a moment to ask... if you didn't have to worry about money and could work any job in a theme park, what would that job be?
To make this our Vote of the Week, we'll offer the choice of five categories:
- Attractions: Including ride operators, show ushers, audience crowd control workers, and tour guides
- Entertainment: Including show performers, musicians, face characters, and the people inside the cartoon character suits
- Food or Merchandise: Including bartenders, waiters, chefs, bakers, and boutique hosts, as well as those ubiquitous cashiers and cart workers
- Transportation: The people who drive the monorails, trains, buses, trams, and boats that get you around and between the parks
- Back of House: Everyone else whom you do not see, including the office and maintenance workers, promotions and publicity people, and ride designers.
Let's put it to a vote! Please pick the category that includes your particular dream job.
In the comments, tell us the specifics of your theme park dream job. Or, if you do work or have worked in a theme park, tell us about that experience.
I said transportation but actually working behind the scenes on rides maintenance would be interesting. See the secrets on how they work.
I picked transportation because I always thought that it would be cool to drive the monorails at Walt Disney World. After that, maybe attractions would be a good area to work.
I picked Entertainment, because that's my thing, but I bet being a waiter at a buffet isn't too bad. If my math is right, they probably make about $120 per hour in tips just for bringing people drinks. ($40 per person * 4 people per table * six tables per hour * 15% = $144. Account for some stingy tippers...
Would it be trollish behavior for me to post a link to our Jobs page? We have several great positions open right now for full-timers:
Disneyland Monorail Pilot. You get to be inside and outside the parks, there's AC and your guest interaction is more personal. DLRR would have to develop a steam powered AC but is appealing otherwise. Wouldn't object to Mark Twain pilot..
Hello thrill seekers and danger lovers!
Behind back of the house - Imagineering, Universal Creative, Thinkwell, BRC,...
I picked entertainment because entertaining a crowd is kinda my whole bit, but designing parks and rides interests me too.
My dream job would be singing with the Voices of Liberty! I've been a choral singer for most of my life, and getting paid to do it at Disney would be amazing!
When I ride The Great Movie Ride at Disney Studios, and the host is being less than engaging, I often think that I could be a better Tour Guide, and would love the opportunity to do so.
I voted entertainment. I have a degree in design/technical theater, so I would love it if I could work in the entertainment dept. at any theme park, preferably as a backstage technician of some sort for live shows. I also have some interest in becoming a character performer as well.
I greatly enjoy Theme Parks as a tourist. But I can't think of any theme park jobs, with the exception of very high management, that I would want to work. They all seem to be basically boring and redundant.
I want to know if Paula will give us an agency fee on any employees they find here!
Haunted Mansion - any of them.
I would pick security guard at Disney World, where I would get a different park/resort hotel every day to walk around. Another I would pick would be park greeter or helper walking around the park answering questions/giving directions.
Monorails all the way baby - already had my time there and i loved it!
Few people picked Entertainment. Being a performer is a dream job. Imagine entertaining kids as Mickey Mouse or Goofy. Or be an actor in the various shows in the parks. Those jobs are quite fun. You get to dress up and act in the roles you meant to pay. Be a meet and greet character.
I'm not sure which category it would fall under, and I don't think they even do this, but I'd like to ride around the parks on a Segway picking up trash with those little grabby sticks.
Schroll wins! If only for the use of the term "grabby sticks."
I'd LOVE to be a disney imagineer!
I picked Entertainment, 'cause it's the closest thing to what my dream job really was throughout middle and high school, though I never would have considered it that way.
How I'd love to drive a monorail. There just such cool vehicles. Of course, the ones at WDW are gonna be all automated soon, so I guess the ones at DL or Tokyo Disney Resort would do.
Melanie Howe... you were in my head when you wrote your post. That's exactly how I feel. Maybe I am slightly less conflicted though, I still support Seaworld as I owe them for giving me my love of the ocean and its amazing inhabitants.
I would work as one of the guys who walks around the park and picks up trash. You can go anywhere and you have lots of chances to talk to and help guests. Frankly, I would probably due it for free for a couple weeks a year just as a break from my regular job.
Transportation. Specifically trains or monorail. I am a locomotive engineer now, and it is something I enjoy, so that has some appeal.
Daughter with a Bachelors degree in the field worked at Sea World in various educational jobs for 7 years making $9-11 an hour. She just recently got a position making $16 an hour as a manager and for the first time with full benefits. If money is what you're looking for stay out of this industry.
That's funny, Kelly! Glad to know I wasn't the only marine-obsessed nerd out there :-).
Absolutely agree Melanie, great minds... ;-)
Transportation...I'm actually planning that as my retirement job. My two year old nephew says that "I'll be driving the Mickey bus."
I would also like to be one of the street sweepers who walks around to sweep up trash. You get to see so much and take in the magical atmosphere everyday:-)
This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.