Are you a high school graduate or college student? Could you use an extra few thousand dollars by the end of August? Maybe you have tuition to pay far, bills to worry about, or a new car you’ve been eying. Well, a summer job at an amusement park might be perfect for you. Oh, did I mention it’s also fun? I should know. I’ve spent the past two summers working at one.
The United States is dotted with amusement parks, but the largest concentrations of them are in Florida, California, Pennsylvania, and (believe it or not) Ohio. In the little town of Sandusky, Ohio, situated on a 364-acre peninsula on the white sand shores of Lake Erie, you can find Cedar Point, one of the largest and most popular amusement parks in the world. Boasting a record-breaking collection of seventeen roller coasters and about seventy other rides and attractions, it’s no surprise that people come from all over the world to experience the thrills that the park has to offer.
Considering the climate of Ohio, Cedar Point is only open from May until late October every year. This means that a large part of the park’s work force is employed seasonally. In fact, Cedar Point employs thousands of people each season, the large majority of them being college students.
So what are the benefits of working seasonally at Cedar Point?
Free Admission. Of course you get free admission to the park, which means you can spend your days off riding roller coasters and relaxing on the beach. You also enjoy free admission to all of the other parks owned by Cedar Point’s parent company, Cedar Fair Entertainment Company. This includes twelve other amusement parks across the country and six waterparks, four of which are close enough to Cedar Point to visit on a day off.
Housing. Another thing that sets Cedar Point apart from a lot of other amusement parks, as far as employment goes, is that they offer housing for their employees. This attracts workers from all over the country and even all over the world, as they don’t have to worry about finding an apartment for the summer. Cedar Point offers a few different housing options. A couple of the buildings are on-site, meaning they’re located inside of the park. The other housing properties are located a couple of minutes down the road from the park. Housing comes in the form of dorms (usually three or four people to a room) and apartments (up to twelve people) and is relatively cheap. I stayed in an off-site dorm one summer and payed under $40 per week for my housing, which was deducted out of my bi-weekly paycheck. And all of Cedar Point’s housing offers a free bus service not only to the park, but to other popular destinations in Sandusky such as downtown and to the mall.
Extra Cash. While the hourly pay-rate isn’t outstanding (expect to make minimum wage for most jobs), you’ll be working so many hours every week that you’ll end up with more money than you have free time to spend. Cedar Point tells its new employees that a typical workweek is about forty hours, but I’ve worked as many as seventy in one week. And while that may seem like a lot, it was always worth it when I got my paycheck. I’ve made $7,000 in one season working at Cedar Point, and I know people who have made even more than that. It’s nice to come back to school after a summer and have money to pay for some of my tuition.
Special Events. Cedar Point has a seasonal committee that spends a lot of time planning events for employees. On any given day, there may be an employee barbeque, karaoke night, or dance. Often times, these events are held in the employee recreational center, which is a building located next to the off-site housing complexes. This rec center offers exercise equipment, gaming, computers and internet access, and a sandwich shop. And the events held there are always free. Some other free events include weekly ride nights, where one or two rides will stay open after the park closes exclusively for employees.
The committee also spends a great deal of time planning larger events for employees. Some of these events may include a trip to New York City, Niagra Falls, or other amusement parks in the area. These excursions aren’t free, but they are always inexpensive. Some of these trips can even be made in several payments over a course of time deducted from your paychecks.
And at the end of the summer, Cedar Point employees can enjoy what is referred to as “Big Bash”. Essentially, it’s a huge party held inside the park with games, prizes, plenty of free food, a live DJ, and of course, rides. Usually, the party will be centralized in a particular area of the park, and all of the rides in that area will be open for employees. Big Bash is usually themed, which makes it more fun. Big Bash is a great way to spend time with the friends you made over the summer. And often times, it’s a sort of “goodbye”, as many people leave and go back to school around that time.
Experience. A job at Cedar Point will give you experience that will be helpful in future jobs, believe it or not. You’ll gain people skills, get better at working with others, and you may even enjoy some leadership experience. Working at Cedar Point has taught me a lot about working with people (both guests and fellow employees), and some of the situations I’ve dealt with there have prepared me for other things in life.
Lifelong Friends. You’ll be working with thousands of other people, some of which you’ll see and work with every day. Often times, you’ll work with a particular “crew” for the entire summer, and that “crew” will become like a second family. Some of these people may be from all over the country or even from other places around the world. And even when the summer ends and everybody goes their separate ways, you can stay in touch through networking and Facebook. I’ve made some really great friends working at Cedar Point, many of which I still talk to on a regular basis.
So while working at an amusement park for the summer can be hard work at times, it’s truly a unique experience and I would recommend it to just about anybody. Yes, there will be days when you absolutely cannot stand your job, but the same can be said about any job. At the end of the summer, you’ll have made plenty of lifelong friends, memories, and some extra spending cash.
Cedar Point is currently hiring for the 2011 season, and if you’re interested you can fill out an application online at http://www.cedarpoint.com/public/jobs/index.cfm.