Home » 6 Ways That Universal’s Theme Park Staff Can Hang on to Their Jobs…by Cross-Training

    6 Ways That Universal’s Theme Park Staff Can Hang on to Their Jobs…by Cross-Training

    Working at a theme park has many perks, but there is no denying that the job has a downside as well. Many positions are repetitive and tiring, which can, over time, lead to boredom and frustration. It can be difficult to get a full-time job, and those who work part-time often find their hours cut significantly during slower seasons. In addition, theme parks are always closing attractions, restaurants and shops to turn them into something new. Cross-training, or learning how to work in another area of your department, is a great way to combat these drawbacks and keep yourself happy, engaged, and working steadily.

    It is easiest to get cross-training at a location very similar to the one where you already work. For example, when both Kongfrontation and Jaws were open, many employees were cross-trained at both. In some cases, you can cross-train at a dissimilar location, such as a non-spieling ride operator cross-training at a spieling attraction, but changing departments altogether, such as from Merchandise to Food Service, is considered a transfer.

    Universal Orlando encourages cross-training, but it ultimately falls to the individual team member to request and follow up on cross-training opportunities. Here are 6 steps to successful cross-training.

    1. Be awesome at your current job

    Security Guards

    Universal wants to hold onto its best employees, and many higher-ups today worked their way up the chain from the front lines. Cross-training can be a great first step towards a career path at Universal, but the company has thousands of front-line employees to choose from. Make yourself stand out by being awesome at the job you already have. Go the extra mile for both guests and team members. Volunteer for shifts that no one else wants. Throw your full enthusiasm into everything you do, from spieling to cleaning gum off the walls. Show that you are dynamic, guest-focused, and a true team player, and you will gain the support of your managers, who have to sign off on your cross-training paperwork.

    2. Keep your record clean

    Stroller and Wheelchair Rentals

    Part of being an awesome employee is being dependable. Keep your record clean by showing up on time for every shift. Follow all the rules, no matter how silly they might seem. Make sure you are ready to work the moment you clock in, with your shirt tucked in, your hair combed, and anything you need already gathered. Everyone gets sick or has an emergency now and then, so don’t panic if you legitimately need to call in, but make it a very rare occurrence rather than a weekly event.

    3. Audition or interview

    Beetlejuice Show

    Not only do you need the support of your managers, but you also need approval from the management team at the location where you want to cross-train. Spiel attractions and entertainment positions typically require an audition, while other locations ask for an interview. Each location has its own process, so you need to contact management directly for instructions. This is typically more laid-back than the audition or interview you went through to get hired originally. For example, when I was working at Earthquake, my Jaws cross-training audition took place in the Earthquake office while I was on my break. Nonetheless, it is important to always treat the audition or interview professionally. If you are not in work attire, dress as you would for any job interview. Show up on time and behave respectfully.

    4. Pursue training

    Fievel's Playland

    Once you are approved for cross-training, it is your responsibility to follow up and ensure that you are actually trained. The easiest way to make this happen is through networking. Begin spending time at the new location on your days off. Get to know the front-line team members, team leads and managers. Avoid making a pest of yourself, but ask regularly when you will be put on the training schedule.

    Training is often, though not always, less structured than it is for new hires. You might be trained in bits and pieces as both you and a trainer have availability, rather than scheduled for a solid block of training several days in a row. If your training is less structured, be sure to ask at the end of each session what you still need to learn to be fully trained. You will have to go through the same check-out procedure, in which you prove that you know what you’re doing, that every new hire goes through. Make sure you are scheduled for a check-out day when you finish your training.

    5. Learn how to pick up shifts

    Barney's Backyard

    Your home location will remain the same, so your first scheduling priority will be your original job location. To avoid problems, the location where you are cross-trained typically will not put you on the regular schedule. There are exceptions to this, particularly if you have a set schedule at your home location, but almost no one who cross-trains is immediately put on the schedule at the new location. Instead, you will need to pick up shifts on days that you are available. Find out when schedules come out and who you need to speak with to pick up open shifts. Each location has different procedures, ranging from relatively formal to incredibly informal.

    6. Keep your proficiencies

    Revenge of the Mummy

    Once you are trained at a location, you are assumed to be proficient in working the positions for which you are trained. However, proficiency does not last forever. Every location has a specific length of time that you can go without working a shift before you will require retraining. This is typically a few months, but can vary dramatically depending on the complexity of the job. Make sure you are clear on how often you have to work at that location to maintain your proficiency, and do not allow that time period to elapse. Of course, it is best to work as often as possible at your cross-trained location. Like any other workplace, networking and face-to-face time with your team is important. Things change quickly in the theme park world, and missing more than a couple of weeks could result in your not knowing important information that is essential to effectively doing your job.