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Is Education or Experience More Important for a Career in the Theme Park Industry?

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My dream career is to manage and operate a Theme Park. Although I am well aware that this will require some work in existing amusement park contexts, I am uncertain whether it would be best to first attend four years of college and graduate with a business management degree in hospitality management, or start working my way up the corporate ladder. What skills and education do Disney, Six Flags, Busch Gardens, and other entertainment companies want me to have? #business #management #entrepreneurship #higher-education #communications #entertainment #communication #training #international-trade

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2 answers

Rob’s Answer

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disclaimer: i have never worked at anything like this.


Is your goal to be an executive there? If yes, then almost all of them will have college degrees, period. Managing parks with $100m's in revenues typically require diverse skills incorporating finance / business / legal. HR is also likely to be VERY important as they employ so many people and so many seasonal people.


One idea would be to go to a college / university very close to a major park, and try to combine internships and co-op type programs alongside your 4 year degree. That would typically get you a huge leg up in terms of experience - and might help pay the costs of college as well.


Lastly, I'm not sure going to an expensive or super-selective college would make that much of a difference.

Thank you, Rob! I already have a job opportunity/internship lined up with a Southern California theme park, but I would agree that a Business degree with a significant amount of finance and strong communication skills will be necessary, as well. Kent S. Translate
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Troy’s Answer

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Wow good question,


I would go with both and by that I would try and directly contact some people that are doing that now and ask them what kind of field they would recommend.


Business is always a good bet I believe, but really figuring out if there are more specific degree plans out there go for it and learn about them. Also trying to intern at some point and gain experience even if it's at a position you may not desire at first could be very useful. Also you can meet other managers and see which individuals will see your desire and actually offer some advice to you and help you on your journey!


Feel free to let me know if you have any ideas or want to know anything else.


My best!


Troy

Hey Troy, Thanks so much for posting an answer to my question! Like you said, it makes a lot of sense to get a well-rounded business education while also angling for a position in an actual organization. I'll be doing some job shadowing, which is a good way to rub shoulders with managers and ask them questions about their positions. In the business world, networking is half the battle. Kent S. Translate
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