If you’ve visited our parks recently, there is a very good chance that you’ve seen Matt B. walking around the park to make sure everything is running smoothly. As Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Matt stays busy overseeing Attractions, Maintenance & Development, Food & Beverage, Retail, Games, Admissions, Auxiliary Revenue, Park Services, & Grounds Departments. Matt took some of that valuable time to let us ask him a few questions.
What do you do at Holiday World?
I’m responsible for all operating functions of the business like anything the Guest sees in Attractions, Maintenance, and any opportunity there is to spend money like Retail or Games.
What do you love most about your role?
Walking into the park and seeing our team members serve the guests. There’s a routine to my day, I start by driving around the park to make sure our key attractions open on time and I head to the front gate to observe as the Guests enter the park. I love being in the park because there is an energy you can feel. The energy carries through the entire day from the busyness at the front gate, seeing people in the wave pools, to the lunch rush where we need to feed thousands of people. There are lots of moving parts to get right and we try to make the first impression a good one.
Did you always want to work in the amusement/theme park industry?
I definitely did, since I was very young. The first park I visited was Michigan’s Adventure, one of my groomsmen’s family members started the park and operated it until they sold it to Cedar Point. I was probably 6 or 7 years old and I just remember thinking, “Wow, this is something else.” [When I got my first job at Cedar Point,] I was too young to work in rides as I wanted, but my cousin worked in merchandise, so that’s where I started and worked seasonally for 4 years. From there I interned in Marketing and when I graduated I took a full-time role in Games. When an opportunity became available in Kansas City at Worlds of Fun, my role shifted back to where I started in Merchandise, but as a Director.
What move/choice do you feel made the biggest impact on getting you to your current role?
Being willing to move parks. It was hard to leave Cedar Point when the general manager shared there was an opening at Worlds of Fun (Kansas City, MO), but being willing to move within the Cedar Fair organization gave me career experience at a new park. When I saw the Holiday World opportunity I was open to moving and trying new things.
What are you most looking forward to in our upcoming 75th Anniversary season?
The past year has been so hard for everyone, but there’s a lot of optimism and people are ready to have fun. We are approachable and a great value for families to come to enjoy themselves. I’m looking forward to seeing a steady return of Guests and I’m going to be standing at the front gate ready to greet them.
As an industry, we have experienced a major crisis. We have been through so much as a team and opening day is the start of a new era for Holiday World. We’ve stood the test of time through wars, natural disasters, recessions, and countless world events since 1946. We’re resilient. Not many can say they’ve been around for three-quarters of a century. Opening day is going to be a special day, it’s going to be an inflection point, where we can start to put the struggles of 2020 behind us and look forward to the next 75 years.