Theme Park, Amusement Park and Attractions Industry News

Inspiring the Employees of Tomorrow

Each year at IAAPA Attractions Expo, the association features some wonderful young folks called “ambassadors.”

engage in such things as hosting conference sessions, giving exhibit hall tours and helping to execute the countless events that throughout the week. The ambassador programme gives young people a real world one-week internship, a window into all aspects of our exciting industry, opening the door to countless career paths.

At the IAAPA convention this November in Las Vegas I spent an hour with two of the ambassadors. Britanny Chidester, a communications student at the University of Evansville in Indiana, grew up in the amusement industry working at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari. What else would you expect from a gal that grew up in Santa Claus, Indiana? Justin Arthur, meanwhile, studies at the Central Florida University in Orlando, where he is mentored by Duncan Dickson, founder of the Walt Disney World College Program.

Don’t underestimate the power of such initiatives in selling employment in your park. Even though you may not have a large number of full-time jobs, young people need to be exposed to the opportunities in this industry, which is predicted grow faster than many other industries in the years to come. We need to fully explain to them that the amusement industry builds valuable skills in such things as communications, customer service and problem solving. There is no better place to develop the workers of tomorrow.

Consider doing a variety of different things for your employees. Be sure to show them the diversity of the industry, and all of the related hospitality industries that they can enter as a result of their amusement industry experience. Positions using similar skills are found on cruise lines, in hotels, events planning, sports management, tour operators, colleges and universities.

Help your employees explore the large number of academic programmes available. Invite local universities to come visit and talk the opportunities available. Assist them in finding off-season employment in related areas of work. Offer scholarships for academic study.

Expose your staff to trade organisations in and outside the amusement industry. You will find exposing your team members to these ideas and opportunities will motivate them to perform better in your workplace, and ultimately make your guests happier too.

Try it this season in your park!

<em>Dr Samuels is professor and co-ordinator of the Leisure Industries and Tourism programme at Montclair State University, New Jersey, and a Walt Disney World college programme co-ordinator. He also provides diverse consulting in marketing, facility development, customer service, safety, event management and promotional activities such as birthday parties. He can be reached at

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