Roll Call: Who has worked for a theme park?

February 8, 2023, 2:56 PM

If you ever have worked for a theme park before, here's the place to check in and tell us about it.

Got a favorite story from your time in the park? Share it here!

Replies (13)

February 13, 2023, 12:39 PM

I'll start: I worked for Walt Disney World at the Magic Kingdom over five years, starting as a merchandise host in Tomorrowland, then quickly moving over to Magic Kingdom West Attractions. There, I started driving rafts to Tom Sawyer Island, then also worked Country Bear Jamboree, Pirates of the Caribbean, Tropical Serenade (aka the Tiki Room), and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

My favorite story is the infamous "What time is the 3:00 parade?" bit, which I have been using in management and journalism classes for years. (Answer: It was at 3:15. The real question the guest meant to ask was, "What time does the 3:00 parade get here, where we are standing?")

February 13, 2023, 3:21 PM

I worked at Disneyland for a couple of years starting in late 2010. I started in foods as a custodial busser at Hungry Bear, though I spent a fair amount of time working in Fantasyland and Toontown as well. I did that for five months before transferring to attractions. By the time I was hired, Disneyland was "landlocked," meaning the old "westside" and "eastside" model no longer applied and you were stuck learning attractions in the land you were hired into.

In this case, I was transferred into New Orleans/Critter Country (or N.O.C.C as we called it at the time). My first attraction was Winnie the Pooh, though I saw very little of it. I primarily worked Fantasmic! and Parades guest control during my first summer in attractions; my second attraction was Haunted Mansion. I saw a lot of that while it was under Nightmare Before Christmas guise and then very little of it once the new year began.

I really enjoyed working guest control, though it at times got pretty stressful. Working special events, particularly things like opening Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar, was also a lot of fun.

A couple of years ago I also worked (very briefly) at Knott's Berry Farm in the Fiesta Village area. That was quite a different experience as I learned several small attractions in just a couple days of training. I eventually was also trained on Montezooma's Revenge, which I found pretty stressful to operate. Apparently the new launch system should make it quite a bit less analog and much simpler to run. We shall see!

Edited: February 13, 2023, 3:53 PM

I worked at EPCOT, playing violin in the Disney All-American College Orchestra, way back in 1989. I sure wish this program still existed, it was such a wonderful opportunity for young musicians. We played three shows a night, and every week or so we would have a guest artist, among them were: Rosemary Clooney, Maureen McGovern, Bob from Sesame Street, Captain and Tennille, Gretchen Carson, Tony Bennett. Not only did they perform with us, but they always spent an afternoon telling us about their journey in the music business, giving advice and answering questions. I'm so grateful for that summer working at Disney; I learned so much and had the opportunity to perform constantly.

February 14, 2023, 6:28 PM

My first theme park job was as a Rides Host at Six Flags over Georgia. I worked my way up and through several positions at Six Flags including Rides Supervisor, Area Merchandise Manager and Human Resources Associate.
While in Atlanta, I also helped open Coca-Cola Olympic City. It was a small, limited run Theme Park on the northern border of Centennial Olympic Park. CCOC had pavilions dedicated to letting the Fans live their own Olympic experience.
I was also on the opening Attractions Management team for Universal's Islands of Adventure. I remember my first hardhat tour and walking across Jurassic Park before there was a single tree planted. I was the first Supervisor for The Hulk Coaster, but just prior to the park soft opening I was promoted to Ride/Show Assistant Manager. Over the next nine years I held roles in both park in Ride/Show, Park Service and Merchandise.

Too many stories to tell, but if you ever meet me, ask me to tell you about the time I was helping with a VIP tour and Michael Jackson (yes, that Michael Jackson) picked my pocket.

Edited: February 17, 2023, 5:45 AM

I worked in the Tea Caddy in the UK pavilion on the Epcot 'Fellowship Programme' in 1993/94 (for one year), there were two international programmes back then - the Cultural Representative programme and the Fellowship programme (I think the fellowship one stopped around 2004). The Fellowsip programme also had an education element to it, with seminars looking at Disney Managment styles. Robert, back then many cast members spoke about the 'what time is the 3pm parade' question. As you suggest it has always been a good lesson in understanding what customers questions may actually mean. I now run (Managing Director) a tourist attraction in Torquay England, called Babbacombe Model Village (check out the wesbite or facebook if anyone wishes). Much smaller than Disney with only about 140,000 visitors per year, but all the same principles apply :-)

February 19, 2023, 5:59 PM

I worked for three summers at Dorney Park in Allentown, PA and then a year at Disney World on Splash Mountain. While there are plenty of gnarly stories, my top more wholesome ones are the day Paul McCartney was in the park and it came over the radio he was headed for Splash - suddenly every manager and coordinator in the area decided to “help” out in the station. Bummer was Paul decided last minute he didn’t want to get wet and he never rode.

Also I will never forget the night I was on Unload and a kid got off the boat screaming and we found out one of the chicken animatronics from the big riverboat finale had lost its head and it was dangling loose from the neck.

February 20, 2023, 3:21 AM

Hi I also worked at the UK Pavilion at EPCOT from Dec 97 to April 99. Loved every moment being a HUGE Disney and theme park fan. During Easter we were making Rabbit Ear headbands at Kidcot stations. I made Pooh and Eeyore a pair for their costumes. They looked awesome and the guests loved seeing them in them....however I got a word of advice as did the characters that they had to remove them.
I then got a position at Universal's Islands of Adventure as part of the opening team. Talk about a dream job, we didn't open for guest for a good while after I joined so we did a lot of ride testing. The Grand VIP opening Ceremony was a cool day with all the celebs having the park to themselves.

February 20, 2023, 5:17 PM

I worked through high school and college at Wet n' Wild in Orlando, and had many friends who worked at Disney through those years. The best story was Ice T visiting the park when he was in town as part of the Lollapalooza Tour.

February 21, 2023, 2:18 PM

Magic Kingdom College Program - Fall 1982
Main Street / Adventureland Ops - Jungle Cruise/Steam Trains1982 - 1984
Contemporary Resort - 1984 - 1986
EPCOT Guest Relations - 1986 - 1989
Universal Studios Florida - Kongfrontation - 1989 (Seasonal)

1998 - Present- Construction project management for attractions, restaurants and other developments at all the major theme parks (including DSTP). Additional new construction/renovation work at resort hotels, retail outlets, back-of-house and transportation system facilities.

Edited: February 22, 2023, 10:30 AM

I was a Disneyland cast member twice, and a Universal Studios Hollywood team member once.

May 1, 2023, 4:01 PM

I did the Disney College Program in the Fall of 2004 as a Role Hopper at Epcot. Best role ever because I got cross trained in Custodial, Food & Beverage, and Merchandise, and worked in a different location each day. Even got deployed to Downtown Disney (now Disney Springs) and Typhoon Lagoon a couple of times. Working at Epcot is what made me fall in love with this park!

May 1, 2023, 7:21 PM

@Eric I've never heard of that position before. How many costumes did you have at one time? That sounds like a nightmare.

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