Of course, the reality is very different. Here, our full-time staff of nearly 80 people is quite busy preparing our physical facility and our operations programs for another season. The day after closing, the tear-down starts in earnest, and it is mostly complete within two weeks. Open-sided buildings are closed in with plastic wrap. Rides are taken down, and passenger vehicles are stored under roof, out of the weather. Picnic tables, trash cans, benches, etc., are moved out of the walkways into “safe havens, ” where hopefully the pickups, backhoes, man-lifts, concrete trucks, and cranes will leave them alone for the winter. The roller-coaster trains come off the tracks. Some will be shipped to Allentown, Pennsylvania, to their “home” at PTC for non-destructive testing and rehab. Some will be stored here, and refurbished on our site.
The food stands are all cleaned, and lots of plastic used to cover and protect stored items through the winter. Red buckets (used to hold sanitizing solution during the summer—highly prized by unknown red bucket collectors during the winter) are tied up in bags to guard against “wanderlust.” In games, plush is taken off the walls, bagged up and stored for winter. Merchandise shops are cleaned, and merchandise stored—either on the shelves or off as appropriate. The buying process begins for Merchandise, Games, and for Foods, too.
Inventories are completed. We’ll all be preparing budgets for 2009 in the next month. The Grounds crew soon begins the all-winter-long job of picking up fallen leaves from the park.
Marketing starts to develop new materials for the new season. Group and Picnic sales programs are planned and executed, and Public Relations continues to tell our story to diverse audiences.
Besides all of this, there is a Handbook Committee, a Hospitality Committee, an Orientation Committee, an Emergency Procedures Committee, a Safety Committee, and at least half a dozen others that I’ve either forgotten about, or don’t even know about. HR will go through the process of terminating all of our seasonal employees and cleaning up our records so that we’ll be ready to begin the hiring process for 2009 in January.
Meanwhile, construction of our new Pilgrims Plunge ride has started. Today, there are three “pans” moving dirt at a very rapid rate on the site. It won’t take very long at all (days, not weeks) for them to have the site to rough grade. The site plan view of the queue building is ready to go, and we are wrapping up the architectural details to make it a unique part of the Thanksgiving section. Intamin is hard at work on detailing the ride design. We have footer drawings in hand for the massive footer at the base of the lift tower (over 200 yards of concrete in one enormous block).
In addition, we have permits and drawings and a contractor ready to start on the new road project to provide entry into the Legend Parking Lot. When finished, this entire project will include new highway signs, a new traffic signal (our town’s first with all three colors!) and a new road. All of this should nearly eliminate the traffic congestion that has hindered us (and our fellow residents of Santa Claus) on our very busiest days.
Winter is a very busy time here. It’s a different kind of busy from the summer. I enjoy the change in activity level in the fall, and the one in the spring. I love opening day, but I also love closing day.
It’s fall in a seasonal theme park. Where we have nothing to do.