Home » 7 Reasons Why Universal Team Members LOVE Working Special Events

    7 Reasons Why Universal Team Members LOVE Working Special Events

    Overtime is usually approved

    It’s 5 p.m. You have been on your feet since 7 a.m., when you came in early to help open your attraction, restaurant, or shop. You’re tired, hungry, and looking forward to going home, when suddenly a team leader approaches you with a sheepish grin. “Would you mind staying tonight? There’s a special event until midnight, and we’re supposed to be open.” What do you do?

    If you’re a Universal Orlando team member, that answer should always be an excited, “YES!” I worked for Universal off and on for more than a decade, and I never turned down the chance to work a special event. These after-hours parties, when an organization rented out part or all of a park for a few hours, were my absolute favorite times on the job. Here’s why.

    1. Approved overtime

    Overtime is usually approved

    Except during extraordinarily busy seasons, overtime (OT) is notoriously hard to come by at the theme parks. When a special event comes around, however, OT is almost always approved. If you’re looking for a way to boost your weekly paycheck, special events are one of the easiest ways to do so. Double-check with your lead before signing up if you know the shift will push you into overtime.

    2. Lots of downtime

    You will get lots of downtime to relax

    Special events are well-known for their exclusive feel, primarily due to an extremely low number of invited guests. You might see 100 guests all at once and then no one for the next hour, or they might trickle in 3 or 4 at a time. Either way, expect plenty of downtime with absolutely nothing to do but relax and chat with your coworkers. Or better yet, take time out to play. If you juggle, play hacky sack, or are great with a rubber bouncy ball, have at it! Anything that can raise engagement with the guests you do see is usually highly encouraged.

    3. Fun party guests

    Special event guests are there to have fun and relax. In the cooler evening hours, with no lines or crowds to deal with, they are generally in a much better mood than the average daytime guest. They’re in no hurry to get to anything in particular, and they love chatting up employees. Alcohol is usually a part of these events, but few guests get truly drunk. Instead, they just wander around in a slightly tipsy, somewhat giddy mood that can be quite infectious.

    4. Special activities

    Who knows what you might get to do?

    This one is hit or miss, depending on what the event organizers have in mind. If you’re lucky, though, you might be in just the right spot to see special fireworks, a famous speaker, or something else out of the ordinary. Of course, you can’t get so absorbed that you forget to attend to guests, but no one will mind if you watch in between groups.

    5. Relaxed environment

    Things are a bit more relaxed during special events

    Naturally, you are still a company employee and are expected to follow the basic rules. But the pressures of hourly guest count quotas, back to back spiels, ride dispatch times, and other daily realities go out the window. Supervisors rarely work special events, and the team leaders who sign up to work are generally cool. As long as you don’t do anything really stupid, it would be hard to get in trouble during a special event.

    6. Early release

    Universal tends to overestimate the number of employees who are needed to work a special event. A couple of hours into the evening, it becomes clear that an awful lot of employees are standing around not doing much, because the number of guests per hour is so low. At this point, team leaders usually start offering ERs, or Early Releases, to anyone who wants one.

    If you don’t really need the money, just need a couple of hours to hit overtime, or have plans for later in the evening, this can be a great way to earn some brownie points in your location. Sign up for the special event, work until an ER becomes available, and then head home with no hard feelings on either side. Of course, an ER is never guaranteed, so only do this if you are able and willing to work the entire event.

    7. Coworker bonding

    You will get to bond more deeply with your coworkers

    With the sheer number of guests coming through on an average day, it can be tough to get to know your coworkers in any meaningful way. This is especially true if you work at a large location with dozens of employees. During a special event, the relaxed, festive atmosphere, combined with the low guest count, makes it much easier for employees to bond. You could get to know someone better during a three-hour event than you did in the previous six months of working side by side.

    Of course, special events are not for everyone. If you are a dedicated early bird who has trouble staying up late, or have family responsibilities that require you to be home at night, working a special event might not be the right choice for you. In my experience, they are always optional, and it will not count against you if you decline. If you have the availability, however, working special events is well worth the effort!