Vote of the Week: What is Your Theme Park Dream Job?

October 17, 2014, 2:39 PM · 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.

Theme park musician
How about being a theme park violinist?

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:

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.

Replies (30)

October 17, 2014 at 3:09 PM · I said transportation but actually working behind the scenes on rides maintenance would be interesting. See the secrets on how they work.
October 17, 2014 at 3:12 PM · 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.
October 17, 2014 at 3:23 PM · 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...
October 17, 2014 at 7:10 PM · 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:

Of course the best perk is getting to work with me! (Okay, even *I* now think I'm being a troll!) - Paula

October 17, 2014 at 4:55 PM · 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..
October 17, 2014 at 5:05 PM · Hello thrill seekers and danger lovers!
October 17, 2014 at 5:19 PM · Behind back of the house - Imagineering, Universal Creative, Thinkwell, BRC,...
way more fun than when I did dishes and cooking I think.

My son is a ride op at Knott's and loving it. He did games his first summer and stayed with it. Just sticking it out and showing up on time got him moving up quickly.

I guess I should get myself motivated again and not give up on that dream...

October 17, 2014 at 5:36 PM · I picked entertainment because entertaining a crowd is kinda my whole bit, but designing parks and rides interests me too.
October 17, 2014 at 5:53 PM · 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!
October 18, 2014 at 11:58 AM · 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.
But I guess after my twentieth performance of the day, anybody would be a bit fed up of saying "Hold onto those wallets and purses, ladies and gentlemen, this doesn't look like a very good neighborhood."
October 17, 2014 at 6:27 PM · 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.
October 17, 2014 at 6:50 PM · 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.
October 17, 2014 at 7:11 PM · I want to know if Paula will give us an agency fee on any employees they find here!

And, yes, will we accept payment in the form of Thunderbird front-of-line passes.

October 17, 2014 at 9:54 PM · Haunted Mansion - any of them.

Basically come to work in a bad mood and you're ready to rock and roll! Lol.

October 18, 2014 at 3:06 AM · 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.
October 18, 2014 at 5:42 AM · Monorails all the way baby - already had my time there and i loved it!

I'm sad that very soon they will no longer piloted like they used to - Automation is soon going to be taking over

October 18, 2014 at 6:23 AM · 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.

Sadly, they are highly selective jobs and most have to pass auditions in several rounds. Pay is only slightly above minimum wage. Bad wages doesn't make a dream job. BUT if you're Johnny Depp, you can do a Disneyland première and get paid millions. That's a dream job. And you get a double in Pirates of the Caribbean. How's that for having it all.

October 18, 2014 at 6:34 AM · 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.
October 18, 2014 at 8:09 AM · Schroll wins! If only for the use of the term "grabby sticks."
October 19, 2014 at 12:15 AM · I'd LOVE to be a disney imagineer!
October 19, 2014 at 10:38 AM · 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.

For years and years and years, my ultimate dream was to be an orca trainer at SeaWorld. When most teenage girls had pictures of Duran Duran and Wham on their walls, my bedroom was papered with posters of whales and sharks.

Ultimately, my weakness in math and the upper sciences, my abhorrence of the thought of actually LIVING in Orlando and my preference for hot water over cold derailed my dreams of a marine biology degree and whale training. But it was a dream that sustained me for years.... And that, to this day, leaves my INCREDIBLY conflicted when the issue of orcas in captivity comes up....

October 19, 2014 at 3:54 PM · 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.
October 20, 2014 at 1:03 AM · 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.

After visiting Disneyland my other dream job would be Alice in the Mad T Party :-).
Or ToT operator - they always see to have the most fun!

October 20, 2014 at 11:08 AM · 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.
October 20, 2014 at 12:28 PM · Transportation. Specifically trains or monorail. I am a locomotive engineer now, and it is something I enjoy, so that has some appeal.
October 20, 2014 at 12:57 PM · 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.
October 20, 2014 at 5:17 PM · That's funny, Kelly! Glad to know I wasn't the only marine-obsessed nerd out there :-).

And by "conflicted", I only mean about the general issues of orcas in captivity. I still love SeaWorld and will defend it to the ends of the earth -- the good work it does in education, research and rehab is so important.

October 21, 2014 at 1:09 AM · Absolutely agree Melanie, great minds... ;-)
October 21, 2014 at 2:25 PM · Transportation...I'm actually planning that as my retirement job. My two year old nephew says that "I'll be driving the Mickey bus."
October 22, 2014 at 8:57 AM · 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:-)

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