Working at a theme park you have to deal with many issues and incidents and small children feature high on the list of problems. I worked at Thorpe Park where there a few attractions for the youngsters which caused problems for the parents who wanted to ride the coasters. The park operated a parent swap system enabling parents to ride in turn without the second one having to queue but clearly many people wanted to ride together.
It is never a good idea to leave children waiting outside of a ride unattended. There are too many distractions and you never know how long you are going to be. If the ride breaks down you could be stuck for a considerable period of time and this can be very distressing for youngsters waiting outside. Unfortunately theme parks are not without a few unsavoury characters either. Nonetheless I would occasionally see kids hanging about at exits and you just had to know why they were there.
Most parents are sensible enough not to leave their kids and look for other solutions. It was not uncommon to find myself being asked to mind children (I must look trustworthy!) but I would always have to say no. We were not supposed to watch kids anyway and you never knew when you would be called away to another ride or have to deal with an incident. It would be most unfortunate if there was someone in distress and you couldn’t attend to them because you were minding a child. Parents always got frustrated when I said no but it just wasn’t practical to offer help.
Lost and Alone
It was not uncommon to find kids wandering around in tears having become separated from the parents. In such a busy environment it is all too easy to get lost and the kids got very distressed. If you have a small child it would be good to equip them with a badge or something with your mobile number so you can be contacted immediately. Nobody ever seemed to do this and the children had to be taken to the medical centre until the parents could be located.
Sadly some parents are foolish enough to try to smuggle small children onto the rides under their clothing. I know this seems insane but it used to happen and staff had to be very vigilant. It is hard to imagine that anyone would think it appropriate to sit a toddler on their laps concealed by a gown or coat but some clearly did. Then there was the couple who once presented the bag room at Stealth with a youngster in a carrier! The incredulous staff refused to mind the child and handed the adults a parent swap card. They must have been desperate to ride if they were prepared to leave a baby!
Theme parks are great places for kids when there are plenty of attractions for them to enjoy but when there isn’t the problems start and the kids remember their day for all the wrong reasons.
Article by Sally Stacey