When I was working at a theme park we all wore the same rather boring uniform regardless of the ride we were staffing. I found this rather disappointing and was very jealous of the staff at other parks who had ride specific uniforms. I always felt that these must help immensely when it came to acting the part whatever that might be and I couldn’t help thinking that the special uniforms were much better for the overall look of the park. The only thing that made me feel better about my uniform were the hideous neon green shirts the staff at Six Flags Magic Mountain were forced to wear!
It seemed a shame to have some wonderfully themed rides only for the rides’ hosts to be standing there in rather generic T shirts or fleeces. Guests love the theming which creates a spirit and character for the attraction but this atmosphere is completely destroyed when an ordinary looking guy in a T shirt shows you to your seat. How much better is it on Pirates of the Caribbean at Disney where you are assisted by exotic looking pirates?
I appreciate that such uniforms represent a significant cost to the parks and that there are logistical issue too. I worked at Thorpe Park where staff are rotated around the rides and can work on several different attractions in the same day. This practice would have to be modified to accommodate the uniforms as constant uniform changes would be impractical and I know that we all liked the variety of moving about but I am sure a balance could be struck somewhere.
Whilst Thorpe Park still has no special uniforms the practice has now appeared at another Merlin owned park, Alton Towers. The staff at Nemesis Sub Terra have great uniforms. I thought that this was entirely due to the fact that the attraction features actors rather than simply hosts and so uniforms would begin and end here but I was wrong. When the Smiler opened I was pleasantly surprised to find everyone wearing a ride specific uniform albeit a rather strange one. I spent my time in the queue line wondering where the inspiration came from for those wacky outfits with striped socks but I do now believe that I have found it. I was recently looking for a fancy dress costume and stumbled across a Leg Avenue number called Queen Bumble Bee which bears an uncanny resemblance to the Smiler kit!
Judging by my own reaction and that of the other guests these uniforms have been a big hit and really add something to the atmosphere of the ride. I just hope that Merlin roll out the idea across more rides and to the other parks. When I was at Thorpe I desperately wanted to dress as a warrior to man Samurai and we were all keen to wear racing suits at Stealth. I think the guests would have loved it and we could have found a way to get changed when switching rides. How much better would Saw the Ride have been with scary attendants? Uniforms are definitely the way forward.
Article By Sally Stacey