When people think of theme parks they have to think of rollercoasters! What else would come to mind? Putting aside the delicious, yet sugary foods, the smell of doughnuts, and the joyous screams of children and adults alike… The rollercoasters and other rides and attractions are the bread and butter of theme parks, it’s what keeps people coming back for more… But have you ever wondered who’s behind the rides? Who the people are who work, day in and day out testing, maintaining, and fixing the rides we all know and love?
Well, we caught up with Charmain Forrester, Zarshaar Khan and AJ to pull back the curtain and meet the people behind the theme parks – the people making the magic happen!
Charmaine joined Alton Towers Resort at 17, and eventually worked her way up to an Engineering Apprentice as part of Merlin Entertainments ACCELERATE Apprenticeship programme. Now at 23 years old, Charmaine is involved in both mechanical and electrical engineering. When asked why she wanted to become an engineer, Charmaine quickly answered, “I’ve always had engineering in my blood. My brother is an engineer and, when I was young, there was quad racing in my family.” She went on to explain how the job involved a lot of testing, in fact, every day she tells us, rides are tested, and the trains need regular MOTs.
AJ, on the other hand, has a slightly different role. As a skilled facilities Technician, it’s her job to test, maintain and fix multiple parts of the theme park at THORPE Park Resort. When asked what she loved most about what she does, AJ said, “I love that it's a different challenge every day. If you're a plumber, you just do plumbing. If you're an electrician, you just do electrics. But with a maintenance technician role, you encounter all types of different issues and gain knowledge in every field. There also comes a sense of pride when you fix something... I usually end up standing back and admiring the job I've just done. You feel a sense of satisfaction when you've repaired something and helped the people who had an issue... like a hero!”
Finally, Zarshaar Khan works at Chessington World of Adventures Resort as a Technical Services Assistant Compliance and Planning Manager. As an Assistant Compliance and Planning Manager, Zarshaar looks after planning permission for Chessington World of Adventures Resort, as well as ensuring all technical works and engineering meets the correct standards. What she loves most about what she does is the people she works with and the environment she works in – working at a theme park with a built-in zoo beats an office any day! When asked whether she felt there were opportunities for women in engineering, Zarshaar said, “There are loads of opportunities for women in Engineering. The teams I’ve worked in across Merlin have all made it so that I felt there were opportunities for me to learn and progress.”
Want to find out more about opportunities for women in Tech Services and Engineering? Check out the video interview with AJ!