12:21 PM

Training for the Business of Fun

How do you train 120 Hersheypark Rides Operations Supervisors and then have them assist you in training another 700 seasonal Ride Operations Team members?

Just ask Lisa Howard, Manager of Training and Quality Assurance for the Hersheypark Ride Operations Team. Lisa knows more than a thing or two about it: her Training Program was one of three finalists for the 2016 International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions (IAAPA) Brass Ring Award in Human Resources Excellence. The category is “Innovation in a Training Program.”

If you don’t know what IAAPA is, this is from their website:

Founded in 1918, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) is the largest international trade association for permanently situated amusement facilities worldwide. The organization represents facility, supplier, and individual members from 99 countries. IAAPA helps our members improve their efficiency, marketing, safety, and profitability while maintaining the highest possible professional standards in the industry.


It’s quite an honor to be a finalist for a Brass Ring Award. Lisa Howard, with support from other members of the Ride Operations Team, takes her job very seriously. This is the business of fun. But as everyone knows, you need to be safe while you are having fun at an amusement park.

Lisa wrote and directed the two-day training session that was held for the Park’s 120 Ride Supervisors. Each year, the goal is to teach safety and also share information about Hersheypark, Milton Hershey and the company’s commitment to Milton Hershey School.

The full-time staff gathers during the off season and determines what the focus should be for the coming season. All the training activities are designed to reinforce the Ride Operations Team’s focus and direction for the year. As Lisa explained, “We create the culture that we are looking for.”

For 2016 the theme of the training was “Hersheyparkopoly.” The theme was teased in the invitation (#ItsYourMove) that was sent out to the Ride Supervisors. This hashtag was then used during the breaks in the Training Sessions so participants could share photos of the activities.

Friday night training was held at the Picard Grand Pavilion at Hershey Country Club from 5 to 9 p.m. On Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the participants spent the day inside Hersheypark as full-time staff played the roles of guests, ride operators and ride attendants. The goal on Saturday was to practice what was learned on Friday night.

The 120 ride supervisors were broken into Teams. Lisa made scratch off cards with pictures of rides and other park items so Teams were “Ferris Wheel,” “Turnpike car” and “Lifeguard whistle.” To continue the Monopoly theme, all the cards were placed in a large money bag so teams were picked randomly.


Lisa and the other full-time staff in Ride Operations feel that seasonal staff come back to the park year after year because they like the sense of family that the Ride Operations Team provides. They are able to make new friends and develop long lasting relationships. Returning staff are quick to welcome new members to the group and make them feel part of the family.

In addition, Ride Operations supervisors are offered Leadership Development Training through the HE&R Human Resources Team. These classes help prepare the students for their future, regardless of where their next job takes them. The full-time staff wants the seasonal staff to know that the company cares about them not just as an employee, but as a person too. The goal is to work with staff to prepare them for what they will do in the future.

As the only member of the Ride Operations Team who did not start as a seasonal employee, Lisa said her parents brought her to the Park every summer. Her great memories brought her to the Park for full-time employment in 2007.

One of the most rewarding parts of her job is hearing the Supervisors talking to other employees and repeating things they heard during their training. As she says: “That’s when you know they got it!”