Dennis BeaverMarch 10, 2023 • By Dennis Beaver

As the business world is gradually returning to normal, rewarding employees with incentives is a priority for many companies. Research has shown that when kept happy, whether through recognition, free trips or experiential rewards, employees are more productive.

But the flip side of reward is risk, and there can be significant financial risks when a theme park is booked for employees if things go wrong, such as breaking the rules.

Recently, I told you about friendly but clueless correctional officer “Rudy” not having enough common sense to realize that if administrators at the prison where he worked learned that he was in possession of an illegal drug, it could cost him his job.

Following that article’s publication, a number of park personnel across the country and individuals who had been banned emailed, suggesting a follow-up story.

What’s Bookable?

The range of venues that can be booked for a business event at a theme park or as retreat is incredibly varied and tempting. From a “dude” ranch to a chartered yacht, this branch of the corporate rewards industry is making itself once again a large presence in the lives of HR and management.

“An entire venue may be rented for several hours, or after it has shut its doors to the public. You are talking about potentially several hundred thousand dollars in expense, so be sure that your employees and family are aware of what will get them kicked off the premises and your company charged for whatever this costs,” said “MK” who is the chief of security at an East Coast theme park, adding, “And you would be amazed at what some people do once they arrive.”

Suspension of Reality

With degrees in criminal science and psychology, and “experience working security on cruise ships,” he vividly describes a suspension of reality that affects far more people than our industry wants to publicize, but it is serious and can be dangerous.”

“For example, when was the last time you saw someone at a buffet restaurant push people out of a line so their intoxicated friends could get in? That’s what we have often seen, even among highly-educated and well placed business executives who drank too much. It is as if the normal rules of society don’t apply while the people are on the ship or theme park. Fights breaking out on warm summer days fueled by booze does the trick.

Lack of Courtesy and Abuse

I heard from employees at theme parks that both receive the general public and business groups.

One delightful, 23 year-old law student who works part-time at a large Florida theme park told me, “I dress up as a variety of characters, and no matter what I wear, someone comes up and pulls at the clothing or punches me, thinking it is a big joke. Well it isn’t and this gets people tossed out of the park.”

Selfie Sticks – No!

“Mr. Beaver, you would be amazed at the number of guests who completely ignore the rules that many parks have about selfie sticks. As a med-tech I have seen far too many cut faces, and other injuries caused by people taking videos on rides – where it was clearly posted, NO SELFIE STICKS PERMITTED. Honestly, over the years that I have worked at theme parks, there has been a general lessening of courtesy shown by so many visitors to each other and staff members that the fun of working here for many of us vanished long ago.”

Common Sense Advice from Event Planners

“I have discussed many of the issues with event planners. While some actually provide lists of do’s and don’ts, in general I am disappointed by a failure to address these issues before guests hop on a plane and come to the event,” MK concluded.

I discussed his analysis with several of the people who read that story. They agree.

Dennis Beaver practices law in Bakersfield and enjoys hearing from his readers. Contact Dennis Beaver.