15 Theme Park Employees Reveal Trade Secrets That Might Surprise You

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There are several things about theme parks that would probably be best left a secret. I, for one, really don’t want to know how often they clean those rides. That said, these 15 secrets are pretty interesting.

Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

#15. Stopping the ride

“Former six flags employee, my park is the safest in the country because we call the rides down for rain, for vomit, for lost items (they could be obstructing the track). So if a ride is down, it’s probably not for a mechanical reason. We even pulled an emergency stop while I was being trained on one rollercoaster because a military official lost his military ID and was threatening my boss if we didn’t go get it for him. If people knew how small that issue was they’d be furious that we stopped the ride.”

#14. Magic water

“My friend in high school used to work at Hershey Park and one day we went together. When we ordered lunch I was just planning on asking for a cup of water with my meal so I didn’t have to pay an extra $5. My friend told me to ask the cashier for a cup of “magic” water instead of just a cup of water. I trusted this friend so I did what she said. When I received my cup of “magic” water, I took a sip and to my surprise it was sprite! So I got a free cup of sprite with my meal that day.”

#13. Dried vomit particles

“Vomit (with no visible blood) is either cleaned up with a sawdust like material to soak up the liquid and then swept into a dustbin or hosed off with a garden hose.

The coaster seat or table is USUALLY not sanitized or anything. So, you are sitting in dried vomit particles.”

#12. You should have seen people’s faces

“2nd edit I posted am AMA with stories from this post and some others I remembered of the top of my head: https://www.reddit.com/r/AMA/comments/9mfury/exdollywood_employee_here_are_my_stores_and_ama/

I worked at Dollywood when I was 18. Most ride operators are minimally trained, I even accidentally pressed the harness release, panicked and started the roller coaster….shoulda seen people’s faces as the train started rolling and harnesses popped open. Also, the software running the ride was Windows 95, this was 2006/7 on a ride built in 2004.

Edit I’ll add another secondary story about that coaster. This was the Tennessee Tornado, which had harnesses shaped like a U that went down over you head and across your chest into your lap. One day we had a rather large man, probably nearing the 450-500lb+ area, wearing a bright orange shirt. He somehow manages to actually get into the seat in the very front of the train, and as we’re checking harnesses this mans goes down exactly 1 click. Everybody knows that ratcheting sound from amusement ride restraints, dozens of clicks on the way down, this man’s went 1….it wasn’t even across his chest, it was a few degrees short of being perfectly horizontal across his body. The only thing keeping this man from dying was 1 click of a ratchet. I’ve ridden this coaster by myself in the morning for pre-operation check, g-force essentially holds you in the seat by itself, my 160lb, 18yr old body would never leave the seat during any of the loops. I don’t know if gravity would have held this man in the seat had that 1 click failed, I just remember the 3 of us “dock” workers standing at the rear of the deck watching this flowing orange 6XL t-shirt look like a pumpkin strapped to a missile go around 3 quivering loops before coming back safely to the station.”

#11. Shady shit

“Most theme parks avoid paying overtime because they are considered seasonal. Therefore they understaff and get employees to work ~60 hours. Usually at less than stellar payrates.

That’s completely legal though.

As far as shady shit, the instances are few and far between because parks a cash cows and no one wants to fuck that up.

At the waterpark I worked at, the pools had their Ph levels checked constantly. Two peoples job was to wall around all day and continuously check the levels.

The food is shit at these places, but that is not a dirtly little secret.”

#10. Easier to win

“The park I worked at the games were easier to win earlier in the day so that people would carry around the giant prizes and entice other people to play.”

#9. Sorry

“The claw machines are loosened so that they will never be able to grab that iPhone or xbox for you to win. Sorry.”

#8. Impossible

“Worked a churro cart next to a large pond in the park. At night it was impossible to keep the bugs out of the cinnamon and sugar bin.”

#7. Stupid teens

“A lot of scary, dangerous rides are operated by stupid teens.

Source: was a stupid 16 year old, learned to operate rides at 6 Flags.”

#6. Protein spill

“My aunt and uncle work for Disneyworld. Apparently when someone pukes on a ride it’s called in as a “protein spill”.”

#5. Coming off brown

“Don’t EVER go in the ball pits. Little kids track all sorts of food and grime into the pit and regularly pee in there since they confuse it for a pool.

The balls are only cleaned once a week, and even then they are just put in a net bag and hosed off. You just keep spraying until the water stops coming off brown. They are then air dried and not sanitized in any way.”

#4. Lose every race

“I could individually control the speed of your go kart, so if you were a dick to me you were going to lose every race you were in.”

#3. A month-old port a potty

“About 8 years ago, I managed a whitewater rafting ride (the big donut tubes that can sit 6 people) as a side job while in college. One day, the water filter broke down. The managers kept the ride running for over 2 weeks anyway. The water smelled so bad and turned dark green/brown. The inside of the rafts smelled like a month old porta-potty. We were instructed to tell guests the water filter was broken but the water was clean, which I’m pretty sure was a lie. Thankfully, being a shift leader, I didn’t need to go anywhere near the water, but I felt bad for my employees and the guests who rode despite looking obviously disgusted by the smell.”

#2. They weren’t lying

“My place use to say that any change/cash lost on a ride was donated to charity. If they meant the charity of their employees’ pockets, then they weren’t lying. Quarters were the good ones to find, since it was rarely bills.”

#1. We made a killing

“We used to crank up the amount of salt in the fries and then build a soda stall next to it. Next we’d remove some of the paths to trap guests in the salty fries / expensive soda area. We made a killing.”

I hope your next visit goes exactly as expected!