Degree for working in the amusement business?

ApolloAndy's avatar

coasterqueenTRN said:

Plus, people skills can't really be "taught." It's either part of your personality or not.

I agree with the first part, but not the second. I've seen various people make leaps and bounds in social/people skills for some reason I have yet to figure out.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

Majors with a focus on business and human resources are best if you want operations.

Recreation and park managment

Hospitality management


Those are good ones to look for.

Remember theme parks are full of lots of types of professionals. PR, IT, accounting, finance, engineering, entertainment.

What counts most is putting in your time, being patient, and being in the right place at the right time. I suggest finding a park that has an intern program. Some parks hire summer interns and thats a great way to get a foot in the door. Check out Six Flags New England if you are in that area. They have a very succesfull program.

As a "lurker" who now can post, may I agree with the previous post.

A degree is important, but putting in your time and learning all aspects of the business is extremely important. Learn to operate a ride, customer service, food service, park services, front gate operations, etc.

The majority of the successful and respected folks in this industry have and still do jump in and help at all costs. They started as seasonal employees and worked their way from there.

It is the most rewarding business to be a part of, and the amazing people you meet along the way can inspire you to great things.

Another interesting skillset needed, one which I never really thought of before this thread -- Several of the very sucessful GM's that I know have a very strong background in construction and project management. Obviously in this industry, managing the design/build process as well as the actual construction can play an important role in ROI, and how sucessfull a capital project is. Whether it is building a new ride, constructing a new Gift Shop or pouring concrete, construction is a big part of this industry. Two GM's that come right to my mind, and most of you would recognize their names, play a very "hands on" role in capital projects...even driving the backhoe at times.

My only point is that knowing how to manage a construction project and control overruns is a very important skill to have at smaller to mid-side parks and most waterparks. My GM has a hard hat in his office and uses it daily during the off season. I have also seen many photos of Will Koch on the Voyage construction site, and I would bet he wansn't there to take coffee to the Teamsters! You think Dick Knobel sits in his office all winter reading Gant Charts?

If I would try to summise the basic skillsets of the more sucessful GM's and Park Managers I know, it would be as follows:

1. Decent background/understanding of Construction / Project Management.

2. Basic understanding of Finance and Accounting Principles.

3. Strong Revenue background with good understanding of Food & Beverage / Resale Operations.

4. Strong Marketing and Sales background.

5. Supurb people skills.

In other words..."jack of all trades". Even the "bad" GM's I can think of have skillsets in several of the above areas. Food for thought..... None of the above comes from college, with the exception of Accounting perhpas...

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