This year has been full of ups and downs and has certainly thrown us all for a loop! And for our associates, this summer has been anything but typical. Some of the changes in our daily lives may have brought challenges, but a few of Kings Dominion Associates welcomes new and exciting opportunities to further their experiences and help others continue to make memories.
Nearly 100 associates over the age of 18 made their way to Cedar Fair parks in other parts of the country. We caught up with a few associates who traveled to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio and Dorney Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania to take on new and exciting roles.
Nathan Rankin – Richmond, VA
You may remember Nathan as “Tiny”, the stilt walking clown in Haunt’s Cleaver Brother’s Carnival…Or maybe you remember him as the Ice Prince during WinterFest. No matter the character, Nathan has been creating memories (albeit sometimes scary memories!) for guests at Kings Dominion since 2017. His burning passion for the Amusement Park and Entertainment Industry first led him to join Kings Dominion’s Haunt Scare team. This summer, however, Nathan traded in his entertainment skills to join the rides team at Cedar Point.
At Cedar Point, Nathan worked as a ride host at the world-class coaster, Rougarou. “As you could imagine, working in Ride Operations is a lot different than Live Entertainment,” Rankin said. “This was a big change for me, but as a person who loves riding roller coasters, I was very excited for the experience. I enjoyed being able to learn how these huge roller coasters operate and watch every guest come off the ride smiling and laughing even through their masks!”
While Nathan misses all of the friends and family he’s made while working at the park and creating memories and experiences for guests, the best part about working at another Cedar Fair park was meeting all new people and exploring different areas of the amusement industry.
Nathan standing with the ride sign for Rougarou
Taylor Humphries – Colonial Heights, VA
Typical summers for Taylor Humphries involve working as one of the Team Leads in Soak City. In a COVID summer, however, Taylor has taken on new experiences as a Ride Operator at Dorney Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania and even receiving the high recognition of “The Golden Thumb” award.
The IROC Golden Thumb award is presented by The International Ride Operation Certification , the industry leader in certification for ride operation. While conducting random audits, operators who demonstrate an outstanding understanding and practice of the 10 key components (Professionalism, Engaging Riders, Rider Screening, Load and Unload, Area Access Control, Restraint Device Security Verification, Operator Communication, Safezones, Pre-Dispatch Safety Check and Preparedness) and receive a perfect score are presented with the award.
“From all the years being trained under IROC, I expected that when the time came that I worked in Rides that I would possibly get audited at our park,” Taylor said. “Everyone at Dorney Park was very surprised by it, even now I still get congratulated or recognized as “The waterpark girl from Kings Dominion who received a golden thumb.”
Like many others, Taylor misses the people at Kings Dominion and the thrill of the rides. “I miss my coworkers and the rides the most,” she said. “My coworkers from the waterpark are like my family. I was looking forward to getting to spend another season working with them and having team dinners. I definitely miss being able to ride a few of my favorite rides, Intimidator 305 and Twisted Timbers, with my best friends.”
However, she has made the most of this new normal by gaining new experiences and seeing new places, and making new friends.
Taylor after her shift receiving her Golden Thumb Award
Nicholas Cox – Richmond, VA
A member of the KD Crew Rides team since 2018, Nick Cox spent three weeks this summer at Dorney Park in the rides department. No stranger to working rides, guests at Dorney could find Nick working at Thunder Creek Mountain and Demon Drop. “ It was awesome to learn another log flume ride and operate Demon Drop as it is the last of the remaining rides of its type in the United States,” Nick said.
He misses seeing the regulars at Dominator the most, but when it comes to working at Dorney he was most excited to interact with the guests again and making new friends.
“I miss seeing all of my coworkers and interacting with our guests. We usually see our regulars at our rides, but we haven't been able to see anyone this year! Also, the guests are what make our days special, so it's been sad not being able to see any of them,” he said. “The Dorney Park Operations team welcomed us with open arms and it was so much fun to put smiles on guests' faces again - even if we couldn't see them under their masks!”
A lover of amusement parks, Nick and a few friends were able to explore the area visiting other local amusement parks and enjoy the rides at Dorney Park on their days off.
Nick and other fellow Kings Dominion Associates during their time at Dorney Park
And, if you're heading to Kings Island or Cedar Point this fall for Tricks and Treats, be on the lookout! More of the KD Family are lending hands in the parks at Cedar Point this fall doing what they love best - creating experiences for the guests. Be sure to say hi to the familiar faces!