Universal Orlando is home to rides based on the biggest budget movies starring actor(esses) who make millions upon millions. Right next door is Islands of Adventure, “The worlds most technologically advanced theme park”. Down the street, you have “The Happiest place on Earth!” and while yes, it is happy for the visitors, for the employees it’s a way to earn a living. While many would love the chance to work at these places, the sad fact is that while you may get to “ride the movies” it’s hard to “party like a rockstar” on these wages.
According to a study released by MSNBC (read the full article here) “Theme Park Attendant” is the fifth lowest paying job in America right behind host/hostess at a restaurant. ” The article says that the two states with the highest amount of theme park workers are, you guessed it, California and Florida with Florida employing over 40,000 employees at parks like Disney and Universal. While Florida does have the higher amount, they get the lowest pay, with employees averaging about $8.90 and hour verses the $9.35 an hour that California workers get.
Most theme park jobs are seen as summer or part time jobs. In fact a lot of people we spoke with do it just to get the free admission to the parks. Also a lot of parks do not implement “full time” employment for their employees. Most are part time, or seasonal. Being seasonal gives the parks the right to work full time hours without full time benefits or overtime. While it hardly seems fair, it is how things operate, especially at a time when jobs are scarce, and any work is good work.
Parks also have high turn around, with most theme park careers lasting only 18 months. According to MSNBC “These employees, who typically get on-the-job training and are expected to have good customer service skills, do everything from collecting tickets when you wait in line to ride the latest roller coaster to removing unruly patrons who have had too much cotton candy.”
Still, people flock to theme parks for employment. Most do it for steady fun work, some others use it to showcase their talents. Where else can you go and stilt-walk, or dress up as a monster and scare the living daylights out of some unsuspecting tourist. Others hope to get higher up in the business by learning about the industry and working their way up. Several well known actors and actresses have also gotten their breaks by starting out working in theme parks, and started out as fans like so many of us. But these breaks aside, no one is getting rich working at a theme park, unless you’re calling the shots.