Theme Park Management

Nancy Anderson
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When we hear the word’s “hospitality industry” we quickly think of hotels and restaurants. But another, often overlooked, aspect of this industry is amusement parks. That phrase too, is broader then our initial response. It includes water parks and similar attractions. Like their counterparts at hotels, theme park managers create and implement key business strategies, monitor the satisfaction of visitors, observe financial operations and work with employees to ensure the overall success of the theme park.

What does it take to be a theme park manager?

Training for theme park managers typically begins with a recreation and leisure services management bachelor's degree program. Though business and hospitality degrees may lead to theme park management positions, a recreation management program offers specialized coursework. Typical courses include:

· Theories of leisure services
· Recreation management and leadership
· Facility management
· Executive development in recreation and leisure services
· Commercial recreation marketing and promotion
· Outdoor recreational programs

This degree prepares students to work as managers and supervisors for a number of entertainment and recreation environments, including theme parks, recreational centers and resorts. Additionally, students learn how to operate recreation organizations with courses in accounting, business administration, economics and financial investing.

Colleges and universities that offer recreation and leisure services management degree programs typically offer specialized courses or workshops in theme park management. These workshops address customer service, quality assurance and employee relations concepts specific to theme park management. Newly hired theme park managers may participate in workshops and seminars sponsored by their employer. Theme parks have differing operational policies, so employer workshops can familiarize theme park managers with an employer's policies, values and business goals. Ongoing education is offered by The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA). Their workshops typically focus on business aspects of theme park management, such as customer retention, advertising strategies and theme park facility maintenance.

Experience requirements vary by employer. Most managers are required to have two or more years of experience in management to be considered proficient in theme park management. To gain experience, many theme park managers obtain lower-level supervisory positions and advance to management positions over time.

So, if you’re thinking about a career in the hospitality industry, expand your thinking; it might just be thrill ride for you.

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By: Joe Fairchild

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