Having spent one happy summer working in a theme park before the introduction of the minimum wage, I can tell you its fun, hard work and you get to meet lots of new people, some you will stay friends with.
Some fifteen years later here is the best advice we can give you, starting with our current top findings:
1.Theme parks employ thousands of temporary workers over the spring and summer months, many of them students.
2. Among the most common positions available are for ride attendants, retail assistants, food and drinks servers and entertainers.
3. Most seasonal jobs require no formal qualifications or professional experience, though training in first aid; food hygiene or customer service will always be an advantage.
4. Benefits of working in a theme park include being able to be part of a friendly team and enjoying high levels of flexibility.
5. However, most seasonal jobs pay little more than National Minimum Wage.
6. As well as major theme park groups such as Merlin Entertainment, specialist job agencies can also be a good source for temporary opportunities.
7. Additionally, several agencies also help UK workers find jobs in American theme parks as part of working holidays abroad.
What Opportunities are there at Theme Parks?
From the start of spring to the end of summer, theme parks employ small armies of workers dedicated to ensuring visitors have a safe, enjoyable and memorable time.
While the work can be tough, requiring you to be on your feet for several hours at a time, you get to work in a fun, friendly and exciting environment with like-minded people.
Furthermore, most theme parks offer high levels of flexibility, making seasonal jobs particularly attractive to young workers, including students and the semi-retired.
Of course, all theme parks will have staff working for them right through the year. For example, they will need engineers to set up and maintain the rides and attractions, administrative and marketing staff and a management team.
However, the majority of opportunities are seasonal, temporary posts, with the most common jobs including:
- Ride Attendants
Ride attendants supervise queues and help guests get on and off rides. Duties may also include safeguarding visitors’ belongings while they go on a ride and enforcing height and age restrictions.
- Retail Assistants
All theme parks will have souvenir and gift shops and so will need people to staff these. These positions tend to require excellent customer service skills, a good head for figures and the ability to work as part of a team.
- Food and Drinks Servers
From working in a fast food concession to serving behind a bar or even providing silver service to corporate guests, theme parks are perfect places to look for seasonal hospitality jobs. Some experience in a related field and some knowledge of food hygiene may help you land this type of position.
- Entertainment Staff
If you enjoy singing, dancing or any other type of performing, then seasonal work as an entertainer could be for you. Theme parks will look not just for experience but also for a positive attitude, reliability and a genuine enthusiasm for this line of work.
Qualifications and Experience
The vast majority of seasonal theme park jobs require no real academic qualifications. In fact, many of the people manning the rides and attractions of Britain’s parks over the summer season will be students either working through their holidays or on a gap year.
That said, competition for seasonal jobs can be fierce and so having certain skills or experience can help you stand out from the crowd. For instance, a food safety certificate, experience in working directly with customers or of working in the retail sector will always be a bonus. Additionally, employers will always be on the lookout for certain key characteristics.
Gulliver’s theme park advises, employers are looking for people with:
- A good positive attitude and a smiley disposition; even if you’ve been on your feet, attending to the same ride for several hours, you will still be expected to be upbeat and friendly to all guests.
- The ability to work as part of a team; working at a theme park requires you to work alongside a wide range of fellow employees and is unlikely to be the job for you if you like to keep yourself to yourself.
- A strong sense of responsibility; in this line of work, you will often be required to carry out your duties without any direct supervision, so you will need to be both responsible and reliable.
Pay and Benefits
While management and skilled positions such as engineering posts may be better-rewarded, pay rates for seasonal theme park workers tend to be low. Indeed, most of the biggest attractions advertise jobs at, or just above, the National Minimum Wage. This is despite the fact the work can often be tough, involving long days and the need to be almost-constantly upbeat and professional.
However, pay aside, seasonal theme park jobs can offer a range of other benefits. These can include:
- Flexible working hours to suit you, including the chance to work every day throughout the summer.
- Free entry to any other parks and attractions your park owner may also own.
- Social working hours: most parks shut in the early evening, making theme park jobs a better option than bar or restaurant work.
- In-house training; many employers are keen to invest in their staff, even if you’re only with them for one summer.
All theme parks will take on seasonal staff, with both temporary and permanent vacancies posted on their websites.
Additionally, it’s worth looking at the websites of the biggest entertainment groups. Merlin Entertainment Group, for instance, owns Thorpe Park in Surrey, Alton Towers in Staffordshire and Chessington World of Adventures, just outside of London.
Between them, these three parks employ hundreds of full-time workers, as well as thousands of temporary summer workers and so are ideal for students looking for holiday work.
Alternatively, a number of recruitment agencies specialise in filling temporary positions in theme parks. HB Leisure for example, works with Merlin Entertainment, as well as with the likes of Lego and Disney to recruit seasonal workers. Its website is an excellent place to look for work.
If you have a local park it is best to ask round your local community as what the best way to get a summer job there is, it’s a amazing who knows who and what if you ask.
As well as jobs in the UK, many people – especially young people on a gap year – head overseas to work in theme parks, with the United States a particularly attractive destination.
Bunac is just one of several agencies offering the chance to work at a theme park in the US as part of a working holiday.
There is a wide selection of UK Jobs and career guides on UK Jobs Guide with more fun jobs, you could use our site job search and have a look now.
UK Jobs Guide lists your local job centre online with its contact address, local map and phone number (a number to call for jobs) will find plenty of jobs there.