Working in theme parks

May 28, 2018, 9:53 PM

I am a big fan of theme parks, particularly Disney as I have grown up with it mostly. I am also currently in high school and trying to get into the theme park industry. What kind of degrees or majors should I apply to for college? My dream job would be to work for Imagineering or Universal Creative. I want to design rides and themed areas for theme parks.
If there is anyone on here that can help me out please reply back.
Thank you for reading this and keep up this great website!

Replies (3)

May 29, 2018, 8:27 AM

I only know people at WDW and UO so understand this is experience from a specific bubble in the theme park industry.

It's more important to have a degree than to have the right degree. There is no set path to get to the theme park design job. Get really curious about the specifics of designing an attraction or area and learn how to accomplish that. This can include aspects of engineering, architecture, art, design, programming, marketing, logistics, and loads of experience with existing attractions and areas. Work in a park if you can! Understand I didn't list near everything.... but you don't NEED all of it. You need to know what you love and what you are good at. And if that is not actually attractions, that is ok!

If you want to design theme park attractions or areas? Do it. Draw them out. Buy lots of sketch books and practice over and over. Use 3d programs (google sketchup is fine and free) or video games (planet coaster is super fun) to create with purpose! Write down every idea you have. Use play-dough and make models. Get an erector set and recreate Soarin. visit parks and journal. Play!

I'm going to end my rant here because I'll just ramble on and on and others should chime in.

Edited: May 29, 2018, 10:45 AM

I recommend you scan the Disney job sites for the open requisitions at Disney corporate. Then you'll know what Disney is looking for and you can select your major and work experience to match. First, do not think you can get promoted from the Disney Parks. It is very rare to get noticed from working a hourly job to a salaried professional job. Then you waste several years when you could have been working in the field. Second, get an internship from any company that does something similar in the field. It doesn't have to be Disney. A contractor that works with Disney, Universal, or other theme parks is an option. Third, the first job upon graduation is important. Select wisely. If you didn't get what you want, just get a job. Work for 2 years then seek another job. Repeat. Eventually, you might just work yourself to Disney or Universal. Or not so enjoy doing something else.

Disney is notorious for turnover like any other business. There is no long term job. You might not make it to retirement by working at Disney. I read stories from Imagineers that either quit or get laid-off due to office politics, corporate policy, or budget tightening. You'll be lucky to work 10 years with them. Be prepared with a backup plan. Many will move on to Universal or form their own consulting business.

May 29, 2018, 2:34 PM

There is the Disney College programme too to get you some front line experience. THe "Earns his/her Ears" series will give you an idea what you're in for with that. Personally after reading some of them I'm left to think that Disney might be exploiting that workforce a bit... but there''s also an element of kids being introduced to the real world and learning quickly its not like life with mom and dad.

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