While some employees at Kings Dominion focus on one role, others wear multiple hats around the park; one of those people is Melissa Ferrell! As a PEANUTS Character Cohort by day and Grand Carnivale Float Driver by night, most of her day is spent at the park – and she wouldn’t have it any other way. A little birdie told us how much Melissa loves her jobs here at Kings Dominion, and they weren’t kidding. We loved getting to know Melissa and all about her roles here at the park – we bet you will too!
How long have you been working at Kings Dominion?
This is my second year here, and I plan to stay for many more! The friends I've made and life skills I've built up will keep me wanting to come back for as long as I can! I'm a bit timid in nature, and have social anxiety, so having this job is helping me overcome that. I've come so far in my personal development in this short time I've been working here, I'm excited to see what my future holds!
What got you interested in working during the Grand Carnivale event?
When I first heard about it, it sounded like a blast to be a part of, and I was right! It's amazing! Kings Dominion has never done anything like this before, so I couldn't pass up the chance to be involved in it! I already work in the Entertainment department during the day, so really all I had to do was tell my supervisor I was interested.
How did you find your position with Kings Dominion?
Funny enough, I was hanging out over by Sally's Seaplane in Planet Snoopy with Sally herself, and the Carnivale Parade Coordinator, Jarod, came up and asked if I wanted to join the parade team, and I quickly said yes! He talked to the hiring department and here I am! Fun fact though, I was originally hired to be a float spotter, which is someone who follows near the back of the float to make sure it's clear to move, there's nothing in the way, and everything is working as it should. During rehearsals, one of the float drivers unfortunately had to drop out of Carnivale, so I was asked to take their place and drive! It was a bit challenging at first to learn how to drive it, but it didn't take long for me to learn and get comfortable with it.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Oh man, it's too hard to pick one single thing as a favorite, but I will say that it feels really empowering to almost lead the way in the parade. I drive the second float in the fleet, which is the France float, right behind the King. Seeing the excitement and wonder in the guests' faces really makes my heart smile, and the energy of the crowd and the performers really pumps me up! It's the perfect burst of energy after working with the PEANUTS Gang all day, which is such a high-energy job that it wears me down pretty quick. I'm not complaining though, I love every minute of every day! I wouldn't trade it for a thing in the world!
How much training went into your position for Grand Carnivale?
A ton! We spent a few days just learning how the floats work and everything that goes into driving them, then we spent about a week driving the parade route after the park closed every night. Each night we would make 3 or 4 laps around the park to practice the route, our spacing and our speed, and generally just getting used to everything. Let me tell you, that was rough, because we would be in the park until about 1:30 AM in the morning, sometimes later, and I usually get up at 6:30 AM for character work. Those late nights and early mornings were rough on my body, but I pushed through it.... with a little help and encouragement from friends and a LOT of coffee!
What do you want guests to know about Grand Carnivale?
Everyone is working SO hard to put on a great show and amazing festival for everyone to enjoy! We do it all for you guys and so far, I haven't heard a single negative thing about Grand Carnivale as a whole. We all love the positivity and appreciation, so keep coming out to keep that energy flowing!
6:30 AM - Wake up, take morning medication, shower if needed (I usually shower at night)
7:00 AM - Pack my lunch, make sure I have everything I need for the day
7:15 AM - Eat breakfast and get coffee
7:30 AM -Get dressed and ready for the day
8:00 AM - Head out the door
8:30 AM - Arrive in character green room and check in with supervisors
8:45 AM - Clock in, get the PEANUTS gang ready to go out and play, see who I'm paired with
9:30 AM - Start going out on 30-minute walks in the park with whichever character I have that day
12:00 PM - Lunch time!
4:00 PM - Get the PEANUTS gang cleaned up and tell them they're done for the day, do daily chores, clock out
6:00 PM - Clock back in, head down to where the floats are kept
6:15 PM - Meet with Float Director and spotters, start daily checklist (make sure everything on the float is in proper working order, tug (little vehicle that pulls my float, think golf cart without the roof) has full battery, and the float is free of trash and other debris)
7:00 PM - Start moving floats to parade starting position
7:45 PM - Say hello to our brigade performers
8:00 PM - Parade starts!
8:45 PM - Park floats around the Eiffel Tower, go on hour break
9:45 PM - End break and return to float, wait for all guests to clear the park
11:00 PM - Drive floats back through the park to the starting point
11:30 PM - Put giant tarps over the floats if calling for rain, if not, head home
12:00 AM - shower, finally get to bed
Kings Dominion provides the framework for a successful career path, no matter what area you’re interested in. If you’d like to join our entertainment team, or browse other available positions, head over to our website and fill out an application! We’d love to have you join our team.