The unrealistic expectations of theme park workers

Then there’s that old saw “Do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”. Or something-something.

Jeff's avatar

You definitely shouldn't hate your job, but you don't have to love it.

From the article about Disneyland naming its Star Wars employees:

Chris Kane has getting teary-eyed more in the last few months since he found out he would be a retail manager in Galaxy’s Edge than he has in his past 22 years at the company.

This person is all the reasons that you'll never have a lucrative career or cross over into office jobs working at theme parks in front line jobs.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

I’ve worked in the amusement business for over two decades. It has been rewarding and I have been able to grow my career to where I earn a decent living. No, I don’t drive a BMW but I do get to go to IAAPA every year...yawn...

But I will be honest. This industry burns you out big time and comes with tons of frustrations and sacrifices, especially in management roles. Even more so as you get older. It’s time and energy that you will never get back.

I have no regrets, I’m not bitter, and I still enjoy my job (mostly). But if I were to turn back the clock to when I was 16 and applied for a lifeguard job at a local water park (where my career all started), I would have choosen a different path in life.

Last edited by Hanging n' Banging,

I agree with most of the sentiment here, but have an experience to throw in that I was fortunate enough to have on the other side of the coin. I was hired in a professional role at Disney, 3 months out of college. Dream job situation. Over the next four years I was given all kinds of opportunity and encouraged to simultaneously pursue professional licensure in my field, which I did succeed at.

My head was utlimately elsewhere and I burned out on the transcience nature of the theme park region and general lack of identity of Orlando. But it was a good place to be in my early 20s. I should have moved out of the southwest portion of the city, maybe I could of enjoyed it longer... but then I-4.

I can definitely feel to the mixing work and hobbies point and agree one takes the fun edge off the other. And I was doing all kinds of cool projects, mostly on 3rd shift (cause the only time you can when the parks are open 365)

Looking back at the experience 10 years down the road, I have nothing but positive reflection. Most everyone I worked with had been there since the initial 70s and 80s park build outs. A testament to the longevity of their employement retainage at the professional level. All my peers I came in with that hung on have since shot up the ranks, replacing that original old guard which has since retired.

Not the norm I realize, but figured insight worth sharing.

I also worked in a service role at Cedar Point, the summer of 2003 while in University. One I still consider the best summer of my life. But the next summer I avoided the temptation to go back again and instead took a more appropriate internship in an office. If I did not do that, who knows if I would have had the post grad opportunity.

Last edited by Kstr 737,
ApolloAndy's avatar

I got my dream job, but my parents bribed a bunch of people and made me pose for photos as a water polo player.

Last edited by ApolloAndy,

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."

Could have saved you some time had your parents known how to use Photoshop.

slithernoggin's avatar

As a youngster, I longed for a job at Cedar Point. Each spring my wonderful mother would drive me up to the college in Kalamazoo, one of the places CP held interviews.

The day I got the call to join the Food Ops team, I was ecstatic and thought I was set for life; part time summers working up to full time.

Then I got to the Point and started working at Stockade Refreshments in Frontiertown. I eventually left early, forgoing the end of season bonus.

Oh, I had fun, don't get me wrong. We had F checks (fat) and D checks (dumb) referring to customers. The gay bar in Sandusky was in walking distance (good ol' Universal Fruit and Nuts Company, or UFANCO). On days off, a bunch of us would go into the park and serenade the people working at Stockade.

But the management up and down the corporate ladder made me crazy. To this day I don't understand why the company would budget X number of hours for each work location, but we were told to expect to work at least three hours longer since the company hadn't provided enough hours for complete coverage.


Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

My only regret about CP food operations was not going back for a second year. The pay was low and the work was indeed hot and dirty. 1980 was a different era however.

Now companies have to step up and make the work semi-attractive; funny how capitalism works.

I have many fond memories of that summer, I wish I could do it over again as a matter of fact.

Anyone who starts has to have the proper expectations.

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