Kennywood-"Bad Ops! Bad!" (day 8 0f 10)

Associated parks:

Thursday, February 26, 2004 1:17 PM
"If you want happy operators, don't come on an excessively slow or busy day. Don't come if it looks like it'll be closing soon but it won't, or when it's really hot. No offense, but which three days of the year would that be? "
That was exactly my point. There will not be a day where everyone's happy. Ever. I know it's sad and those examples are poor excuses, but it's the truth. Majority of the workers are, in fact, teenagers. You lose a summer by agreeing to work there. Not many people can still look at their job with the same enthusiasm as they did when they were first hired.

"Most workers believe "why be nice to the guest if they aren't nice to us." Simple. I pay your wages."
No you don't. Not technically. Weither you are there or not, we still get paid. True, we wouldn't be needed if no one came, but like I said. We do get a bunch of guest that us workers wish would come everyday. We aren't rude to everyone all the time. Most of us aren't rude, at least to your face or to a point we even realize it. But, if we get rid of those rude guests and somehow had a way to sceneing them, everyone's day would be much better. More money would be made b/c they wouldn't be making the workers and other guest upset or angry. Some workers are rude to everyone, no matter what. But those are also the ones that get fired midsummer.

"And A simple "thank you" or "enjoy the rest of your day" is nice, even if not expected."
I do do that, and I know a lot of others that do. That can work either way. I've said it, chippy and full of happiness b/c I was having a great day that day, and got mocked at. Not only by some co-workers, but the majority were from guests. Not all guest like it. So, instead of guessing, a lot just won't b/c some guest don't want to hear it and a lot don't notice or let that ruin their day.

"No offense, but are you under the impression that these situations are unique only to Kennywood? "
No. OMG no I don't think it applies to just Kennywood. Nor do I think it only applies to amusement parks. I just can only talk through my experience at Kennywood. I know those people are everywhere. The situations are different for every kind of job, and I understand that there are some everywhere; however, through my talking with guests, I also realize that most don't realize that the teenagers working at amusement parks do have their fair share of jerks. Sorry that the workers don't find where they work "the happiest place on earth" or that they "sohuld be proud and honored to be employed there". They just don't. I'm also sorry we don't let you child ride because we don't want to see them hurt. I know this is everywhere, but many guest forget that workers are people, young people, and treat them like they are robots that can be redesigned to allow their child special privileges. We are robots in the sence we do the exact same thing everyday. Most of worker's days are predictable.

"Which brings me to my main point, which is: No one expects the workers to actually be happy all the time. But you could act like it."
Hard to act happy when you're barely fighting to keep yourself either awake, alive, or cry. Just some of what I know most other workers do everyday. I'ld rather us be semi decent then flipping out and crying all over the place. But you'll get those that still have no morals at all. As you would everywhere else.

"...but I can bet that if you were a worker, you'ld do nearly the same thing after a few weeks. No, I wouldn't. Sorry, but it's called work ethic. But when I was younger, my work ethic was questionable at times, I admit. "
And once again.. I'm sorry. Most don't have work ethic. They're living for the moment and what happened a few moments ago.

"until and unless a person is rude to me, they will be greeted with a smile and a pleasant attitude and my full attention when I'm on the clock being paid to work."
Most workers do give every guest an opportunity, but after a handful in a row of obnoxious guests, we might not be fully "back to normal" for the next. There's short fuses and once they're all blown, they energy's gone for the day. Not talking for EVERYONE, not talking for EVERY JOB, not even talking for myself on the way I am on a daily basis, just merely talking on behalf of all rude workers that actually deserve a second chance. Not all, mind you, but a good few.

If you find yourself encountering another problem where the workers are making your day as miserable as possible, even if unintended, make a list of names and rides and go to a rides office. They will attempt to fix it, and when there are so many complaints, they will eventually get fired. But supervisors can't watch everyone all the time, so they are sometimes blindsided by the fact their workers don'ot work up to par. A lot of guest have come to me with statements such as "you're so nice, why aren't everyone like that?" and I explain to them that a few of them do get word through out the other workers on other's "bad additude" or whatever, but guests won't take our advice and report them, thus letting them work longer then they should. This goes with all jobs.

Thursday, February 26, 2004 4:47 PM
eightdotthree's avatar I wasnt a big fan of the ride operators at Kennywood last year either. I went 3 times and I noticed the same themes from the ops. They dont present themselves well (shirts un tucked) and they talk to each other but not the guests.

I blame the sloppy appearance on the managers. You can be a likeable manager and still ask your employees to tuck their shirts in. It does reflect poorly on the park when it's employees dont present themselves properly.

One example of my second theme was when I was waiting for phantom. The lap bar in one of the cars wasnt releasing properly and people were getting stuck in the car. This happened three or four times until it stopped. But each time the op in charge of that side of the train was too busy talking to realize that a guest was still in the car. When they finally noticed, they would just walk over, press the button and continue on. Never once acknowledging the guest's presence or telling them whats going on.

Overall I enjoy every amusement park I go to in some respect. But a lot of times I feel like I am not welcome, and parks need to start realizing they are losing repeat guests because of it and manage their employees properly.

Friday, February 27, 2004 12:04 AM
I'm sorry that everyone's had bad experiences with the ops. If everyone's shirt was untucked, it might have been an "un-tuck your shirt day". We get a few a season. And like I said before. If there's a bad experience, take it to the supervisors. Most workers will point you to the office if you don't already know how to get there. Managers don't do much in the sence of firing or anything.
Friday, February 27, 2004 12:21 AM
eightdotthree, workers rotate through positions throughout the day and different people are scheduled on different days. Perhaps you caught a lazy worker at that position on the Phantom or it was late in the season. Or perhaps they were new or they aren't a people person. For that one uninterested worker on the Phantom, there may be two more scattered throughout the park.

As Robo said, the choices for people to spend their amusement dollars on are greatly more than ten years ago. Not only do parks need to keep their park updated to keep people coming back, but the seasonal workers, the ultimate face of the park, have to present themselves in a good manner so the guest can enjoy their day and justify spending the money.

Going into a store like Best Buy, not buying anything, and walking out complaining is different than an amusement park because you aren't paying to get into Best Buy. Now, when you buy something, its a different story.

Like Airyckah said, if you see a worker not performing his or duty correctly, please report it so they can't continue to help ruin a guest's day. *** Edited 2/27/2004 5:25:43 AM UTC by beeman65***

KW Team Member

Friday, February 27, 2004 3:45 AM
Robocoaster's avatar I wish I had encountered ops like you guys on my day there. I appreciate your intelligent and articulate responses to the posts I made.

I look forward to my next visit...

Friday, February 27, 2004 10:10 AM
rollergator's avatar

Robocoaster said:
I appreciate your intelligent and articulate responses to the posts I made.

Are you sure you're in the right forum, Robobob? ;)

Friday, February 27, 2004 1:46 PM
eightdotthree's avatar

beeman65 said:
Going into a store like Best Buy, not buying anything, and walking out complaining is different than an amusement park because you aren't paying to get into Best Buy. Now, when you buy something, its a different story.

I dont think I have every had a negative experience at Best Buy and their sales staff. They make you feel welcome and are always helpfull even if their day isnt going great. And you can tell when they arent in the best of moods, but they still do their jobs well.

Phantom's revenge, Racer and thunderbolt all had terrible staff all 3 times I was there last season. So it wasnt an off day. Maybe I will start going to the customer service desk, they were actually nice to me when I lost my keys on the phantom.

Lord GoncharKids working a summer job at an amusement park basically for spending money are going to be even harder to keep tabs on. Sadly, while I don't agree with and am even saddened by it to a degree, this is just how things have turned.

I worked in a grocery store for a short stint and when I didnt do my job right, wasnt nice to a customer, didnt wear my bow tie etc, I was told to correct it. And I did. If you have kids who are constantly disobeying their managers then they need to cut out the fat and hire someone who can do the job better.

Friday, February 27, 2004 2:09 PM
But that's just the point - there isn't someone out there who's going to do the job better. The base of it is that these days, the salary that most "kids" (including college students) can earn at these jobs can barely buy enough gas to fill their tanks to get to work. Factor in that you have to buy your own uniform at a lot of these places that are considered "summer work" now, and your paycheck is pretty small. So, if you have an admittedly crappy job, and you aren't getting enough pay to do much more than get to work and go home, what's the inspiration to work hard? Perhaps if you gave employees a reason to believe that it's worth their time to do a good job and hang on to that income source (such as actual income as opposed to gas money to get to work) then maybe they'll work better. If you're not willing to do that, then don't expect people to care, cause there's another crappy low-paying job right around the corner if you get fired from the one you're at.

Maybe this is something unique to Pittsburgh, I'm really not sure, but I have always hated the fact that I DO have a work ethic and that I DO feel bad when I'm doing a bad job at something that doesn't really matter to me personally. I wish I could be like most of the people my age and younger who don't care about things that don't affect them directly. I wish I was that blissfully ignorant of the world around me, cause life would be a lot easier.

There also seems to be a general consensus that the managers at Kennywood are "older folk" who the "kids" respect and listen to. From my experience of listening to people that work at the park, the managers are nothing more than the emplyoees who have been there the longest. And I know two people that were managers last year that I wouldn't call responsible people, or ones who feel they have the power to, or even want to discipline a fellow employee for not doing a good job. Now, one didn't last the summer, but that's another story.

It really irks me when people complain about the work ethic of today's younger generation and just wonder why it can't be like the old days instead of taking a deep breath and working with what they have. Instead of trying to force people into your conception of the world, try and see what their perspective is. In general, forcing your views and opinions on someone doesn't do either party any amount of good. Times change, people change, generations change - break the cycle of old men sitting around playing poker in front of the general store complaining about "kids these days", cause that's what yinz sound like.

Brett, Resident Launch Whore Anti-Enthusiast (the undiplomatic one)
Friday, February 27, 2004 3:44 PM
I have to say that every single time i've been to park (bearing in mind they have all been in England) I have yet to hear a ride op say anything...ever.

I have never heard "Enjoy the rest of your day" whether forced or genuine.

To be honest I don't expect it, it'd be a suprise if I did hear it but it's not exactly something I would notice on a day out and not something I would rate any part of the park on.

I'm far more interested in enjoying the rides and the time spent with the family to notice how the staff act.

Culture difference? or just personal expectation difference?


Friday, February 27, 2004 4:02 PM
I think its personal expectation, and two sides;

1. Those that feel that their $40 thrown in a company's direction entitles them to royal, personal treatment

2. Those that feel that their $40 gives them the privlidge to come use that company's product

Those in camp 1 care about smiling employees and "have a good day", those in camp 2 marathon the coasters or just wander around with their friends and family in their own little world, oblivious of the other people around them (employees or GP)

Brett, Resident Launch Whore Anti-Enthusiast (the undiplomatic one)
Saturday, February 28, 2004 2:25 AM
eightdotthree, I wasn't ripping on the service of Best Buy, I was just using them as an example of a retail store.

KW Team Member

Saturday, February 28, 2004 4:24 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Impulse-ive said:
I think its personal expectation, and two sides;

1. Those that feel that their $40 thrown in a company's direction entitles them to royal, personal treatment

2. Those that feel that their $40 gives them the privlidge to come use that company's product

How about a group 1A?

1a. Those that feel their $40 makes them a paid guest of the park. The same way my $$ make me a guest at a hotel or my $$ make me a guest at a bar or club or my $$ make me a guest of a restaraunt. All situations where if treated like some of these ride ops treat park guests, all hell would be raised by most people.

If I went to a hotel and checked in and the front desk person only asked my name, said nothing else, never smiled, but simply handed my a room key and walked away. Then I called for a wake-up call and got nothing more than the phone being hung up (but still got that call in the morning) - I probably never use that hotel again. Similar situations can be made for my other examples too. You see where I'm going.

I'd lump amusement parks into that "service" sector of business. You attract guests and make their stay as pleasant as possible in hopes to earn their repeat business as guests. Ripe ops are the single biggest "face" the park has with the guest. They represent more than any employee in the park what the park's attitude is as visitors will have more interaction with them in a day at the park than any other employees.

I don't expect "royal, personal treatment", but I do expect to treated as a paying customer. If I owned a business, I'd want to treat my customers well in hopes of getting their business again. You can compare it too almost any industry. There's always someone else offering the same product, your only hope of keeping the customer loyal is to excel in something beyond the actual product. The simplest thing to do is provide excellent interaction with the customer.

(personal opinion rant) It's simple customer service and it seems to slowly fades a little more in all areas even though the USA continues it's move from a manufacturing nation to a service oriented nation. We have more and more people taking service oriented jobs and less and less of them giving a sh*t about providing good service. (end rant)

The thing that gets me, is I never hear these current and former ride ops who post talk about learning or being instructed in any of this. Is it simply ignored by these employees or is the park not stressing it.

I'm not saying the ops should make eye contact, smile and say "enjoy your ride" to every last rider as they check restraints. But the two examples Robocoaster mentioned in his original post are perfect examples of how little things can totally sway the park experience. Doing equally minimal things in a different way could have left an entirely different impression.

In the early 90's I worked at a carpet store. Basically my job was to cut carpet that people were taking (not being installed or delivered) tape it up and throw it at them. I could've simply drug the carpet to the loading dock, dropped it at their feet, turned around, gone back inside and closed the door. They paid for carpet, here it is.

Instead I always offered to help get it in or on their vehicle, asked if they needed help securing it or whatnot. 99% of the time the customer didn't and it took no effort on my part other than the kind words and feigned interest in their bagain rate, thin as toilet paper carpet and the customer left with a great impression of the store and a good chance that they'd return.

It was a crap job for crap pay. I lifted heavy ass rolls of carpet for little more than minimum wage. There were plenty of times I didn't feel like it or someone would come in 5 minutes before closing and I'd be stuck there 30 minutes later than the store's hours cutting carpet and hauling it around for these idiots, but you still take that deep breath, smile at them, make them glad that they shopped there. You don't give them crap because you have a suck ass job and have had one of the worst days ever and won't make enough in a week to cover your car payment.

The customer doesn't care, they paid for the carpet just like the last person who came in after you heard the funny joke while eating a great lunch and were in a particularly good mood with a big grin, clicking your heels together with a little hop in your step and everything. They both deserve the same service. Good service. Just being a paying customer entitles them to that. Just like it entitles them to go elsewhere when it isn't provided.

In Impulsive's example:

Group 1 would expect me to load the carpet and secure it to their vehicle.

Group 2 wouldn't care if I did just drop it and walk away without a word.

Group 1a wouldn't expect me to load the carpet and would say no if I offered, but would be pissed if I dropped it and walked away - this was 90% of the customers I dealt with and where I think most customers actually fall. They don't expect anything special, they just want their experience to be a good one.

Saturday, February 28, 2004 7:35 AM
Unfortunately very few people take pride in their work anymore. Especially as far as customer service goes.

I work in a very difficult customer service enviroment dealing with serious financial complaints so i'm used to having to be polite to angry customers that to be honest don't deserve the time fo day. But I get paid to do that.

Do the people working at the park get paid to keep the crowd happy? or are they paid to concentrate on keeping the queues low, the ride safe, the people safe and everything in order?

I think for the wages that they get it's a lot to expect for them to have to go that extra mile to be extra nice and polite to the staff.

It's not the main part of their job role.

In my experience very few people on a minimal wage are happy in their job or take pride in their job. And I personally think it is a lot to expect anything more from the majority.

Maybe as well as the ride ops you should have one person employed per ride that greats people when they get to the ride and is all happy and enthusiastic, telling them funny stories about people who have lost shoes etc. and then asking them if they enjoyed it and telling them to have a nice day after the ride.

This would leave the ride ops to concentrate on the more important physical side of the experience (the safety, the effeciency etc.) and have someone individual to deliver the personal touch.

Just a thought.

Saturday, February 28, 2004 2:37 PM
eightdotthree's avatar I am not passing blame to the employees, but more on the management. How does a large park like Cedar Point have good employees (fast even if they arent smiling) and a small park like Kennywood doesnt.

I dont think there needs to be any more excuses, we have all used them and heard them, parks are losing repeat customers because of poor service.

beeman65, I was just expanding on your thought, not countering it.

Monday, March 1, 2004 4:05 AM
nasai's avatar The truth to all of this is there will always be someone who bucks the trend at a park, whether it be a guy wearing "poopy pants" or a guy with a huge smile.

The way employees treat their guests are really all just the enforcement of rules from the top down. If the company doesn't care, the employees certainly won't.

Holiday World (we've all heard it) is a perfect example of integrity from the top down. Did I meet a bad employee at HW? Ever? No. Doesn't mean they don't exist.

Sorry your experience was so "different" Robo. Don't worry. It'll be better next time, and if it isn't? Well.. you'll survive. At least you've been there. ;)

The Flying Turns makes all the right people wet - Gonch

Tuesday, March 2, 2004 10:00 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar I wonder if the lack of competition in some areas of the country makes it much less damaging for the parks to not care about customer service. I mean, if I lived between CP and SFWoA, I'd go to CP all the time, but if I live in...say...Seattle, I don't have too much choice about where to go. Of course, I can choose whether to go to the park or the beach, but in my experience, most of the people I bump into at parks are people who will go once a summer, no matter what.

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."

Wednesday, March 3, 2004 1:27 AM
While that theory of competition makes sense ApolloAndy, for some reason, SFGAm has above average to excellent customer service but yet they have no immediate competition from any other major park.

I think it comes down to the park management and how they train their employees to interact with the customers.

My favorite MJ tune: "Billie Jean" which I have been listening to alot now. RIP MJ.

Friday, March 19, 2004 5:12 PM
Once again, I'll stress it's not managers. Someone stated that managers were people that were there longer. That's not entirely true. I have worked under mangers who have only been there maybe a year, while I was on my forth. They chose management unfairly. But it's the Supervisors and other higherups that tell the "underdogs" how to do their jobs. Managers make sure they run things correctly.

Personally, I would rather go to a park knowing that the workers are making sure my food's not going to get me safe or that the ride won't have any major default while riding. I chose that over a smile. What good will a smile do and "have a nice day" when the ride you were just on stopped upside down and the food you ate wasn't cooked all the way?

I understand that other's happiness is contagious and those paying to get in desearve it, but it isn't entirely one-sided. I do believe I mentioned in one of my post that we will be more genuinly happy to a nice costumer and will barely keep from flipping out onto others. Some workers just don't give a darn. That's their problem. Report them if they are down right rude. But if they aren't doing anything rude, then decided if it's worth the effort. If no one's being completely rude, but no one's smiling. And i mean you seen abosolutely no smiles and you're being completely ignored, no questions answered (other then those we are told to not answer) then put in a general claim. But if it one or two single workers, get their name and ride or department and go and put in a claim agaisnt them with examples of what they did. No exaggeration or lieing, only pure "this is what they did and I didn't like it" type statements. Then the supervisors and higherups can confront the worker.

And as far as current or ex-workers not stateing if this is enforced, I'll tell you. The first day, way back when you do your orientation, they tell you about it. After that, unless you're completely crude to no extent, they won't do anything, unless you get claims filed agaisnt you by either other workers or guests. This is the main way anyone knows of problems in and out of the personal work area. This is where you come in. Instead of posting on a site that would be read by maybe 5 workers out of the hundreds there, you should give a complaint. I'm not sayign don't post, because it allowed myself to state some of my own opinions and a few I know others have and/or share, but whining and complaining and what not won't get results. You must do something for something to get done.

This wasn't a vent towards you or anyone else, just once again stressing the importance of the guests having to report it because managers don't have much say. And if you are there and want to talk to the supervisor and the worker you're having the main complaint against, when you get off the ride, ask to see a supervisor. More then likely they will get the manager, they will try to see the problem, then get a supervisor. That way, the management, supervisor and the worker all know what is wrong and can work towards fixing it. *** Edited 3/24/2004 5:36:48 AM UTC by Airyckah***

Friday, March 19, 2004 7:08 PM
eightdotthree's avatar Around in circles we go...
Tuesday, March 23, 2004 6:11 PM
I'm a ride op at DW and let me tell you we are supposed to be friendly, hospitable and curteous!!! Kennywood needs a lesson to be taught. We get in trouble if there is any peice of our shirt out. how bad for you as a guest.
I work for an amusement park chain. I know all!!!

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