The next time you visit Disney World park, look at the ground. I know it may seem odd in a sensory-overload amusement park, but trust me for this one exercise. You’ll notice there is no garbage – anywhere. You could eat off the floor, although I wouldn’t recommend it given the foot traffic.
I didn’t fully appreciate this aspect of Disney World until I was in an amusement park in New Jersey where the line to one of the roller coasters had a perennial gum spitting contest from a staircase onto a wall.
Disney is virtually spotless, with good reason. There is a trash can every 30 steps. Walt Disney reportedly visited other amusement parks to calculate how long a person would have to hold on to a piece of trash before it hit the ground.
When you think of what matters most in amusement park operations, you might think that picking up the trash seems trivial. Safety is of course paramount.
State and local governments are responsible for establishing safety and regulation audits for amusement parks. Insurance companies conduct their own audits and parks often hire private safety firms. Additionally, trained maintenance staff should regularly check the various mechanical parts of your rides.
As an amusement park management company, you can’t expect your summer exchange student to blow the whistle on a faulty metal switch or poorly draining water slide. However, you can expect them to check for other things, including:
- Missing safety equipment on the rides
- Malfunctioning safety restraints or lap bars
- Standing water in the presence of electricity.
- Slippery surfaces
- A guest who is ill — a “Code V” as Disney calls it. This is a health hazard as well as a safety issue.
Amusement park inspections come down to employee awareness and accountability. This is an operational environment where you need your employees to be your eyes and ears on the ground.
It’s why simply picking up the trash is so fundamentally important. This mundane task sets the tone for operations. In an environment where safety is paramount, no obstruction is too trivial.
The only way to minimize risks in amusement park operations is to train and manage your staff. Teach them the fundamentals of inspection. Conduct regular employee evaluations and follow up to make sure these tasks are completed routinely. This is how a world-class amusement park operates.