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I am turning 16 and I am gonna start working at an amusemen park. I want to start my career in the amusement industry. I know you can't operate rides until your 18, but I want to learn how to operate rides. When I am interviewed for being a ride operator, I want to know what I'm talking about. I also have been curious how to operate rides.


I need your your help on how to operate rides. If you have operated a ride, put what ride it is and describe how you operate it. It can be a roller coaster, thrill ride or kiddie ride. Any info no matter how small will really help me. I am always trying to learn new things about rides and stuff and now I'm interested in how they work.


Thanks to all those that reply.


*Is there any place on the internet where you can download ride manuels? If anybody has some laying around that they don't need anymore and wouldn't mind leting me have them, let me know. Thanks!

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I'm pretty sure the ride operator simply waits for all the restraints to clear, signals for the other attendants for dispatch, and then presses the big shiny button.


When you're just starting off, they'll probably have you checking restraints, and then eventually move up to ride operations.


I've never done it before, but I know a couple ops at SFNE.

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You don't have to be 18 to operate rides. At least in California. All the rides operate differently. They train you on location; so I don't think you can find out that information on the web. Also I don't think they expect anyone to know how to operate rides when you are interveiwed.


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Most, if not all, parks train their operators at the ride. That way you get hands on instruction. I know that at SFMM we had to train for 4 days and 12 hours (minimum) before we got to even take our test to become a ride operator. I also know that at some SF parks, all you have to do is operate the ride 10 times under the supervision of a certified operator before you get certified.


Operating any theme park ride is really a no brainer. They are designed as such (read the interview with the guy from Consign on RC Pro [sorry Robb, but it's a good interview] and you'll see what I'm talking about).


The main rule, however, is that you keep the riders and other crew members safe at all times. Basically, that just means you need to be paying attention. Sure, after a while, you get comfortable with the ride and your surroundings, but you are still there to do a job, and that job is to operate the ride safely.


Ok, ok...For the sake of this thread...I used to work at SFMM. I was a ride op, then a lead, and, eventually, before I left, was asked to be an area trainer (since I was certified for every ride in my area at the time). I worked there from 2001-2004. I was an operator or an attendant at pretty much every ride in the park. My favorites were S:TE, Flashback, Goliath, B:TR and Log Jammer (but that was only because of my crew).


Feel free to PM or e-mail me at any time if you have any more questions!

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I don't mean to offend any current or former Ride Operators, but don't you get bored doing the same thing for hours on end???


Load/ unload/ signal attendant/ start ride etc...(over and over again)


The last time I was at Disneys CA Adventure, the ride operator (for CA Screamin') was literally slumped over her control panel, I thought she might fall asleep!

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I have been hiring ride operators for the past two months now at my park, and one thing I look for is someone who knows what safety is, and why it's important. Make sure you use safety quite a bit during your interview, along with guest service. There are a few other things, i'll try to post tomorrow, I'm tired and going to bed.



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Every state has different guidelines for ride operations. Once you begin working at a park, you should be trained about the regulations as they pertain to your job. When you have been working at the park for a while, and your supervisors feel that you are ready for more responsibility, they will recommend you for promotion and ensure that you recieve the proper training for your new position. This is true at just about any large company, not just amusement parks.


If you want to work in the amusement industry as a career choice, you should learn about all aspects of operations, not just rides. Learn about restaraunt service, customer relations, finances, etc. That way, when a management position becomes available, you can be the most appropriate for the position from within the company, not just some schmoe working the tilt-a-whirl in your fifties to pay the rent.

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I don't mean to offend any current or former Ride Operators, but don't you get bored doing the same thing for hours on end???


Load/ unload/ signal attendant/ start ride etc...(over and over again)


The last time I was at Disneys CA Adventure, the ride operator (for CA Screamin') was literally slumped over her control panel, I thought she might fall asleep!


Quite a lot of jobs are just the same thing over and over thing. Unless your extremely lucky to have a job with a lot of variety, something that a job at a Theme Park can be.

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There are specific things I listen for when interviewing new team members for ride operation. Safety is a big one. If I don't get 2 of 3 of these items out of you on your interview, I will pass you along to another department.

I am purposely not saying what they are because if you have IT already, you will get the job. Instead of going in and repeating what is said here to get it.

It has already been said that you don't need to have prior experience. You should however be mature and responsible about your position.

The fact that you seem to want it right now is good. Once you get it you will find out if you really like it and want to stay with it.


Now this on the other hand...

was literally slumped over her control panel, I thought she might fall asleep!


Some of you may think I am making too much out of this but I am not.

The person slouching over the panel is putting guests, and you as a team member at risk of injury or death. Period.


Sure, rides are for the most part automatic but,

THE OPERATOR HAS THE CONTROL and FINAL SAY that evrything is clear and safe to dispatch that ride. Operator along with attendants need to be alert to stop the ride if a situation should arise that warrants it.

No if, ands, or buts.


I actually decided I wanted to be an ride operator when I was 40 years old. I never did become one cause I went straight to a supervisor position then lead then I took over a different department.


Sure I trained and certified on rides. I also love operating rides. Especially coaster because you are constantly on the move and it is fast paced.

Even when I left rides I would hear about a coaster being left up for employee rides after the park closed. I would run over just to operate it for the team members!


Yeah, I am a crazy old man.

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As I was getting ready to board S:ROS at Six Flags Darien Lake it looked like they had a kid probaly like 15 just checking belts and restraints and im pretty sure he was being trained at the time because when he would check someone else would be right behind him checking again and it seemed like they people taht were with him were really helping him out and by the end of the day he was awesome and doing everything good.

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  • 2 weeks later...


I recal wayyyyyy back in the days I was a ride ops for BGW....I started off the year BBW opened and then lead my way up to ride supervisor (or in some cases "ride STUPID-visor" lol. After, I became interested heavily into maintenance and then ops management. I do recall that we had to go over the SOP (Standard Op. Procedures), then actually go to the ride area and practice all the drills and so-forth. After, we began actually operating the ride itself (it was also during this time before the park would open and we had to log hours on the ride/coasters to break them in from the winter-inspection tear-downs and rebuilds). I do recal that BG parks generally require all ride operators to pass a "Competency Training" schedule to show that you can operate the ride(s) in a proficient manner. Sounds silly, but damn these insurance vendors and other strict inspection peeps and so forth. I thought they were a bit crude and funny, but now that I had management experience and so on, I fully agree on strict procedures to operating machinery and having guests ride. My advice would also be....when possible, talk to other people you know or may not know that actually operate rides. Ask questions what they like/dislike, the types of testing they go through, and so on.

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I don't mean to offend any current or former Ride Operators, but don't you get bored doing the same thing for hours on end???


You know, I thought it would be, but it isn't that boring. Sure, the operation itself is repetitive, but its the people. The fact that you constantly deal with different people, situations, attitudes, etc. It keeps you on your toes--it makes the job fresh. You dont even think about the operation itself--it becomes second nature. Its the ever-changing sea of faces that you think about....or at least I do.





As for the rides I've operated...


I know your looking for more intricate functions, but there really isn't much to operating rides. I certainly was surprised by how easy it was....


I know as a ride operator, my number one priority should be saftey--however, MY number one priority is working towards my dream of becoming at least half as good of a ride operator as Joey was.


I work at SFMM. To become an attendant (check restraints and give an all-clear), you have to pass a like, 20 question quiz on the standard operation and safety procedures, and then get a crash-course training on the actual functions. To become a ride operator, you have to pass a significantly larger test, also depending on the ride. As a ride operator, you have to know how to handle various situations which may arise, which often requires a thourough knowledge of the ride. I'm currently getting trained at Riddler's, and they just taught me all the parts of the train.....which I already knew. (I dont know if thats anything to be proud of or not).


As you asked for the procedures, here you go...


No matter what the ride, you must check before turning them on, if they have been signed-off by a maintence worker, verifying they have been serviced.


The Scrambler, which is just a spinny flat-ride, its as easy as putting in a key, putting you foot on a petal, and pushing a button. This is after checking all restraints, of course. The particualar ride that I worked on was rather old, so you would actually feel the the ride like, upshifting, to get to speed. When the cycling was over, it would go into neutral, and you'd bring it to a stop, manually, by pulling on a brake lever. Testing in the morning was as easy as cycling once with nobody in it, and then cycling it once more, with a certified passenger.


Sandblasters, the bumper cars, were even easier. Simply hold your foot on the petal, turn the key, and pull on the button, and a five-minute cycle would begin. This was after checking restraints (very important on the bumper cars!). There wasn't really a testing procedure. We just un-parked the cars in the morning, and reparked them at night.


Tidal Wave, a splash-boat ride, was easy too. The morning begins with a block-check, where we essentially ensure that the ride can be safely stopped by every ride and e-stop button. We then cycle the boats a few times, and then do a safety-ride, with a certified rider. As far as operation, the ride operator would open the gates, guests would board, the attendant would lock restraints, and then check them. The attendant then pulls up on the dispatch in conjunction with the ride operator, and bye-bye-boaty.


Finally is Riddler's Revenge, a B&M Standup, obviously. The day starts with a block-check, similar to that on Tidal Wave (I wouldn't know exactly what though--I'm never there in the morning when they do it). As far as operation, a point-operator opens the gates, and the guests board. I wait for the restraits to lock (visible and audible), check the restraints by pushing down and pulling up (so if you piss me off, I'll staple you). Then the seats will lock, and three people (the point-operator, the dispatch-operator, and the ride-operator hit the dispatch button simeltanieously, and the computer takes over. Taa-daa. The ride operator has the ability to lock and unlock any seat or restraint when the train is in the station, which is good, as people can easily get uncomfortable, and ask to be fixed.


And Goldrusher, and old Arrow mine-train, was pretty much the same as Riddler's just super-low tech. Gates open, you step on a petal to raise and lower the restraints, check restraints, give an all clear, and taa-daa. I was there at night, and we had to actually crawl out onto the track (once the power was shut-off, and the trains had been removed), and put these brake covers onto all of the brakes...which was fun for me, crawling through the tracks and all.


Welp, that's pretty much it.


Oh, and Joey--I love you.



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I don't mean to offend any current or former Ride Operators, but don't you get bored doing the same thing for hours on end???


I'll reply to this too. I'm in my fourth season at PGA now and although I'm not actually out in the park operating rides there are a few things that keep me going back:


- As before mentioned, the friends. I have created some of my best friends at the park, and I actually spend more time with them, than I do with any friends from school, or even my roomates. They are all awesome people.


- The love to interact with guests. Having a good day is important as I love guest interaction and working with guests all day long. Even pissed off guests...


- As far as Ride Operation, I enjoy getting out into the park and working on rides when I get a chance. Checking restraints on Top Gun or Dropping people back at Drop Zone. It's all fun as hell.


- LaStly the park has provided me with awesome experience that I wouldn't be able to gain anywhere. How many places will give you a good real world management position at age 18? I'm an Area Manager right now and looking towards even more advancement this season possibly? It's just a really good oppurtunity for some to build their resume, especially someone like me who is majoring in Commercial Recreation.


Thats all. Hope that helped.



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I ran into something I didn't expect after I landed my dream job operating The Beast at PKI: ride boredom. The Beast used to be one of my favorite wooden coasters, but after testriding it many times a day, and riding it again and again on all my off days (heck, just BEING at the park every day), I have only gone back to PKI once in the past 2 years, and that was just for the Italian Job credit. Be careful if you work on a ride you love, as beast has slipped out of my top ten.

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^^^Hey, someone paid attention during his training. Now tell me how to do the 2 train block check. And how many plattens there are (and what they are for).


-Joey "ashamed I still know all about RRv" Mandel

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  • 4 weeks later...
I don't mean to offend any current or former Ride Operators, but don't you get bored doing the same thing for hours on end???
I worked in rides for ONE week (work crew supplied some employees to operations - it was the last week of daily op during the summer and school had already started). Honestly, it DID get boring. Why? Because in an entire day I would have maybe 40 kids on my rides - I worked back half of Looney Land at SFOT. I would LOVE to work a ride on a busy day though.. well.. given I had a good crew to work with.
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I worked Magnum XL200 in 2002. Very exciting at first, but gets to be very repetitive. As far as what to know, make yourself familiar with the block system. Each ride is different, but you can tell the blocks just by looking at it.


The rule? No more than one train in any one block.


On magnum, if by chance you did not dispach the train in time (usually a guest causes this), then you get what they call a stack. Stacking a train on some rides is no big deal, but on magnum, the ride went down for a small amount of time (being that a train would stop in the safety brakes right after the last tunnel).


Its all a matter of timing. Dispaching the train too early would cause it to stop on the lift hill (being that the train in front of it did not clear the block).


Alot of coasters dont have that problem, but just giving you an example.


The MOST important job of the operator is to supervise the guests. This includes following the safety rules, and denying people rides who should not ride (i.e. not tall enough)


I'll never forget how angry parents would get when I would not let their kids ride. All I can think is "Why would a parent insist on putting their child in danger?"


Good luck to you....

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As mentioned before, everything ultimately depends on your park's policies. I have worked at three different parks and all three were different. But, in case you want to hear more, here's my experience.


warning...this is long!


MGM Grand Adventures - defunct

This was one of the best experiences of my life. The people made this job so much fun. It was the summer leading to my senior year of high school and, as we would come to learn, would be the last season of regular operation for the park.


Each attraction had a short 3 digit code that referred to what area of the park it was in. For example, Lightning Bolt = 612 and Over the Edge = 621 because they are both in Gold Rush junction. Also made it easier when communicating so you didnt have to say the whole name.


You were trained on all aspects of each attraction as you were assigned to a single attraction each day you worked. You would rotate at the ride with usually at least one extra person working as a grouper and/or entrance in order to provide breaks. Rotations were every hour starting at 15 till. If you had a good lead, theyd make sure you got another break later in the day in addition to your hour lunch.


Each ride had its own particular operation quirks. For example, the rapids ride had a turntable that you had to contend with. There was also a special loading harness for disabled guests. You had to space boats leaving the station so they wouldnt bump and tip over (very hard because they never stop moving and yes some people had popped boats while attempting to space them!) When it was windy the geysers would trigger a trouble light, or you had people who would jump out of rafts. I liked working that ride especially at Tower because you sat in a little hut high above the water with a cooler full of water...just relaxing...until someone jumped into the water that is.


Other things they were big on were speils and hand signals and in what order to do hand signals. For example on the roller coaster, in order to dispatch the load had to put their thumb up toward the train first, followed by the unload. Then the load would hold their thumb high above their head while pressing the dispatch enable with the panel person. Then the unload was to walk toward the front of the station and watch the train ascend the lift (it was a tire drive lift).


We were trained to do a lot for some the rides like adding and subtracting units on certain rides, opening and closing them, etc. Others required that to be done by maintenance people. In downtime, you had a list of like 5 numbers to call. To help keep things calm, supervisors, and leads wore pagers instead of radios. All you had to do was page them with your attraction code.


The work was hard at times especially when it got busy and it was 120 degrees outside....its vegas afterall! People often underestimated our park, but we made it work. It was definately the people that made it worth it! In fact I was promoted to lead at the end...the youngest they ever had!




I worked as a op here twice in my life. Once my senior year of high school and again during my winter break December 04 - February 05. This park had the added hassle of being located indoors. I say hassle because we have additional procedures for stuff like fires, bomb threats, etc that have to be handled in a particular manner because everything is indoors. And dont let the dome fool you, just because its indoors doesnt mean it doesnt rain or get hot inside there, because it does!


I didn't and still dont care for operation of this park, from an employee standpoint that is. For one, the rotation isnt a true rotation for the most part. You usually go to one attraction for the start of your shift, go on a break, then return for the remainder of your shift. If you are lucky you might get another rotation. That means sometimes youd get put in a position for upwards of 4 to 5 hours. Because they only train you on certain parts of certain rides at first, you cant just rotate at your ride to break things up. That means you could be working load here and then working the "line" here. Combine that with not being allowed to cross any train or boat on any attraction means you are just stuck. (yes, you read that right, you have to go all the way around to get to the other side).


You require coordinator (lead) approval for anything. Its like they didnt trust the workers. Block checks were only done in the presence of supervisors. You could only e-stop rides for the night in the presence of supervisors...I actually know why that is. Someone "sank" a boat on the water ride by doing a premature estop.


As for operations the clear/dispatch signal is a index finger...im still not certain of that logic, but ok. Each ride had automated spiels that were either too loud or too low. And the whole wristband, ride tickets thing was for the birds.


In the end i noticed a big difference in the mentality between this park and MGM. MGM was a lot more selective in hiring whereas Adventuredome hires any warm body, hence the high turnover. Even the park guests were different...lets just say they were better behaved at MGM.


Magic Kingdom - Walt Disney World

I actually didnt do attractions formally while there as college program and seasonal so I can only offer limited insight. I did, however, work in operations as a parking host...


For the most part, you are trained to work at all positions so that you can rotate within that given attraction. There are some areas where you are assigned multiple attractions and rotate between them...such as Fantasyland and Buzz, TTA, Carousel, and Timekeeper at Tomorrowland. Cast members use Cast Deployment System (CDS) to tell you where to go next...be it break or position.


For parking, we were a beast of our own. We used CDS like everyone else in order to clock in/out, but due to the fickle nature of parking cars, our coordinators (leads) told us where to go.


From all my experiences, I think I enjoyed parking the most. Its a very logistically intense position to be in. Everything is about timing and being in the right place at the right time.


Whereas Space Mountain may require a dispatch of 6 guests every 15 seconds or so, we at peak time, must dispatch a tram of 210 people in 1 minute...WITH everyone seated, no lap kids over 3, no kids under 12 on the outside, stollers folded and IN the tram, and umbrellas closed. This done in heat, rain, AND lightning. And thats just tram operation.


We had about 7 pages of spiel to remember along with hand signals. There are also certain routes we would have to drive, things to watch out for, and most importantly where and where NOT to stop your tram.


While out in the lot there is so much more into sending those cars down the rows than most people think about, but we made it smooth. Running to get people pulling out of the line all in the middle of florida heat, humidity, and BUGS.


Again this was a job where the people made it special. Guests made it hard sometimes when they were stubborn, but it was all a great experience and a great way to stay physically active!



Hope this gave you some different perspective.

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  • 8 months later...

Don't know if you are still interested but if you are.


I work at Conneaut Lake Park. It's a small park in northeastern PA.


Working as a ride Op is very fun. You can have fun and meet girls I got at least 3 Numbers a week. But you will ocasionaly get a$$ Holes that will compain about every thing.


I worked there for two years last year I got in for the last 2 weeks. I wasn't supposed to becasue I was only 15 but they were short handed.


This year because I was only 16 I was supposed to work in kiddyland. But I managed to get out and run the bigger rides. I also got to learn every ride ( Not common even if you are 18). At the End of the year the Bluestreak was my ride. And I was assistant Supervisor for the last couple weeks.


If you go for it put saftey first. Because if somthing happens. Parks will normally find a away to blame it on the ride op.


It is very fun and you should go for it.

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