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I'm thinking of becoming a Ride Operator


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Hello, so for a while I've been struggling with what I want to do as a job. I have been trying to work with animals but so far my experience in the industry has been really negative. My second biggest passion/interest since I've been little has been theme parks. I was wondering if anyone here is or has worked as a ride operator? Is it hard to get a job at a theme park? Which theme parks are the best to work at? What are the career promotions like? Do certain theme parks let you work all year round? I'm not too knowledgeable on the subject so I'd really appreciate everyone's input. I'm also do have anxiety so I'm worried I'm going to mess up with the safety stuff. 

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@HyprCoastr19 I was a ride operator at Luna Park Sydney for around a 6 months before I got new opportunities. I was casual, and was able to work the Halloscream event. It was definitely a fun experience, however I have a whole new respect for ride operators around the world now! Depending on what park you work at, i’d say the experience changes drastically.

@STRAWSwas correct about the ride’s capabilities, as most rides will not start until all lap bars/restraints/seatbelts are locked and secured, making the job a whole lot easier. However, older rides may not have this type of capability, and may require a more vigil eye. Of course, training is provided in full. I would say it is absolutely worth a shot, and I believe all enthusiasts should try to operate rides at least once in their life. It’s definitely something that made  me understand and appreciate more about the industry, so I am very grateful to have had the opportunity!

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You talk about theme parks being a passion. The trouble with working at a theme park is you see what goes on behind the scenes to make things happen. So some of the magic is lost. 

If you enjoy creating magic for others, then that's not a loss - but if you don't, and you enjoy being immersed in a world of make believe - its going to hit you like a tonne of bricks. 

The reality of working in a theme park is they generally don't pay well. Guests on the whole are going to be rude, obnoxious and entitled. Management are either going to be awesome cool people to work with or absolute bastards.

You're going to hear\see things that you aren't allowed to share. Some of those things will be good - like knowing a new ride is coming - and some of those things won't be - like knowing the specific details of what is wrong with a ride.

You're going to have days where something special happens that you get to be a part of, and it makes your day. But you're going to have even more days where some entitled parent shrieks at you because their kid isn't tall enough to ride and they want you to endanger their kid's life for their own desires. You're gonna have days where the park is slammed with guests and you barely stop to think all day, collapsing at home exhausted at the end of it, and you're gonna have days midweek off season where its dead and you'll feel like its been hours and you only opened 30 minutes ago.

8 hours ago, STRAWS said:

the rides are fail safe so if the seatbelt doesn't lock correctly the ride won't start until they all have.

As a ride operator - you're going to have people's lives in your hands. You are ultimately responsible for ensuring everyone both on, and around your ride are kept safe at all times. While many modern rides today have interlocks that prevent dispatch if a safety system isn't secured, there are still plenty of rides where this isn't the case, and people can get hurt if you mess up. You do need to be very confident to be an attractions operator. You're going to be speaking to guests all day and they're going to see you as in charge, whether you know the right answer or not.

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I have been a ride operator for both the major Gold Coast chains, as well as spent several years travelling at shows and carnivals as a ride operator. I can say right now it has its good and it's bad (just like any job). You can't really build a career out of being a ride operator, but you certainly can build a career in the theme park industry with it as a starting point. Several people I know personally have moved up quite high in the theme park and leisure industry, and some of them are even on these forums but I won't name them.

I made some great friends, had some of the best experiences and the worst experiences of my life in the job. I'll mostly speak on my experiences at the theme parks moreso than the travelling side of things as they are both very similar but also very different at the same time. If you are wanting a fun job, and money isn't really an issue then I'd say apply for it. The pay isn't very good, but it's great for people who study and it can be very hard to get full time hours to pay the bills.

When I was there I was on a PT30 contract (30 hours a fortnight minimum) and hours varied greatly. During peak times you would get 5 days a week, but in the off peak it could drop down to 2 - 3 days a week. Don't expect to be operating one of the major rides to start with as they are normally for the more experienced staff to learn. For example when I worked for Movie World back in the early 2000's they actually had an order for the rides you were trained in as an example.

1. Kids Zone, Batman Ride, Tunes Ride

2. Wild West Falls, Arkham Asylum, or Justice League

3. Batwing

4. Superman or Green Lantern

5. Scooby Doo

I left before Doomsday etc opened, so I'm not sure where they would sit on the training or if it's even done like this anymore. Scooby was always left to the more senior staff, purely because evacuations are so tedious so they wanted more experienced staff. Once you learnt Scooby you actually got a $1 a hour pay rise as a "competency" bonus. However a general ride operator at Village parks won't actually be behind the main control panel (except for Scooby, as the loader is actually in charge of dispatching) you will just be loading, unloading etc.

If you are good at your job, and management like you (Honestly, it was very much like High School when I was there. If one person didn't like you... good luck) you might get offered a relief supervisor position which are the people behind the main control panels who actually run the rides. Some of the management however in my time there were some of the most amazing, and passionate people and I'm glad that they have been recognised and built careers out of the place, and then there are some others that well karma got to them in the end!

I'd say honestly, give it a go. It can be pretty easy for the most part, until it's not. And when it's not it can really test your patience and temper, you will see all kinds of stupid things that you never thought you would see. And some of the things that happened, I just shake my head and laugh about. Sadly some things I obviously can't talk about, but it's great to create memories and I say go for it!


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Agreed with @Spotty, I’ve worked at one of the major parks as a ride operator and it is very much like high school unfortunately.


It was extremely difficult for me at the start of my employment, many people weren’t very friendly or welcoming, my anxiety was at a high all the time and I even contemplated quitting. It got a lot easier once people start to know who you are and you’ve found your feet. I recommend making an effort in getting to know everyone, as you won’t work beside every person in operations as everyone is allocated different rides, trust me it’ll make your days go by a lot better once you start making friends and becoming a familiar face. I guess any job that the majority of workers are aged 18-25 will have its workplace drama and cliques, it’s inevitable, especially as some come fresh from high school and haven’t mentally left yet.


As for the job itself I wouldn’t worry to much about messing up with the safety aspects of the rides, the training is very thorough and you will not be front-lining/supervising until management are sure you’re confident in doing so. You can still slip up and “breach” but management at my park were amazing and never made me feel cornered or alone. 


Guests are definitely rude, obnoxious and entitled but hey you get Karen’s at every ‘customer service’ job. I always had my team to shit talk, trauma bond, and share our horrible guest interactions with. I found guests were always worst in the morning. Usually the ones who show up to rides at 9:30am sharp (even though rides are always scheduled to open 10am) and deadpan stare at you for 45 minutes during opening checks, and when the ride would fault/delay of course (you have a 1+ hour line and have been notified by a supervisor that there’s an extended delay and you’re the one delivering the message to the queue, good luck!)


Also my park never had a skill level to what rides you’re given, some newbies were allocated the biggest in the park to begin with.


Id recommend it, even for a fun summer job! I think it’s a bit of a struggle if you’re naturally introverted especially at the start, but there’s always every type of personality within in the workplace. You’d definitely not be the only one. The turnover of staff is pretty regular, I know many coworkers who I worked with have also left since I did, it was rare anyone stayed over a year. The hours are exactly as Spotty described, not that great.. Benefits are free entry to parks, you can earn free tickets for friends but it takes a long time.

Edited by kujotess
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