Back in the 70’s many of the seasonal parks around the country were built with the intention that a more localized version of a Disneyland type park could be a good business. The companies running these parks were very aware of the “amusement park” image took pride in making sure they didn’t come across as carnies, and one of the major components of that were the appearance rules for the employees. Pretty much all operators had the same rules, and IMO even though it was subtle thing, it really helped make the industry more reputable in the public image. All of these parks were made to give the vibe of being clean and family friendly.
These rules largely stayed in place up until very recently when suddenly some major operators changed them at the same time. Just a few years ago at most SF and CF parks beards were not permitted, shoes had to be solid black or white, socks had to be solid with no logos, no tattoos visible, had to wear company issued belt, etc.
Nowadays it seems like many parks, including our two largest seasonal park operators, have pulled a 180 and gotten rid of their appearance guidelines. In the past few years I had the opportunity to travel around the world and revisit many of the parks I hadn’t been to in years, and at many of the seasonal parks here in the USA the employees look like straight up trash. Tattoos, earrings, fugly shoes and socks, scruff, sweatshirts, and baseball caps. None of this stuff was allowed even just a few years ago.
So a few things have happened that led to this:
-The labor market is really good and amusement parks being seasonal and relatively low pay aren’t attractive jobs.
-The parks were built in rural areas where there was lots of cheap land so there weren’t many jobs available for kids that lived in the area. But now the areas are much more developed with more job options.
-Society has become generally more accepting of people with beards, tattoos, and piercings. Even Disney allows people with beards now (this one I think is a cop out, there are still lots of jobs all over the place that still restrict tattoos/piercings).
Personally, I hate it. The huge lax of rules makes the industry look exactly like what it was trying to prevent when the parks were built, they are so hesitant to cut into their margins by offering more competitive pay and better benefits that they have gone to the lowering of standards to try and attract more people and it shows. Beards I think can be OK because Disney has strict rules on how it has to be trimmed…but at some of the other parks I’ve been to recently I can’t say the same. Sadly, once the standards are lowered it becomes very unlikely to raise them back up because it would cause a lot of headaches with the people that already work there.
What are your thoughts on this? What can the industry do to attract better talent without lowering the standards?