Character Core Magazine had the opportunity to visit Frontier City Amusement Park and talk with General Manager, Stephen Ball.
CCM: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with us and share your thoughts on dependability in the workplace—especially serving the public in a theme park. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do at Frontier City.
Ball: My name is Stephen Ball, and I am the General Manager of Frontier City, an amusement park with a “Western” theme. Opened in 1958, Frontier City was a Route 66 roadside attraction. In my position as General Manager, my primary responsibility is to create fun! At Frontier City, our goal is to create family fun and fond memories. When we first opened in 1958, we were known for our “wild west” environment—reenactment of shootouts in our streets and gunfights, as well as a few small rides and shows. Today, we are known for our big rides such as the Wildcat and the Silver Bullet, the big coasters and thrill rides. We still hold true to our roots with gunfight shows just like we did in 1958.
CCM: What compelled you to pursue a career in the entertainment industry?
Ball: I love the business! I was an amateur magician as a teenager in the Oklahoma City Magic Club, and a friend of mine in the Magic Club called me one day and asked me if I would like to work for him at Frontier City doing the magic show. And I said, “Yes!” I was seventeen years old and I did the magic show and a little side show called The Flea Circus. I was known as “Fleavan,” the ringmaster of the smallest circus in the world.
CCM: What are some of the challenges you face in running a theme park?
Ball: Just as in any business, there are many challenges. One of our biggest challenges is that the majority of our seasonal employees are working in their first job experience. So everything they are learning about having a job, they are learning for the first time. Teaching, coaching, and encouraging them is an ongoing effort that happens every single day.
CCM: Why is dependability important in the theme park business?
Ball: Dependability is critical in the theme park business—from the front office where we are creating budgets and reviewing forecasts, ensuring that we have the financing and the overhead in place, all the way down to the front-line team member who is directly in front of the guest. It is critical that our frontline team members understand what it means to be dependable, because we in the office not only depend on them to do their jobs consistently and with character, we also understand that the guests depend on them to provide a safe and fun experience. Our guests expect dependability as they are getting on the rides, shopping in our gift shops, purchasing their food, or playing a game. Being dependable is a necessity for everyone in the Frontier City organization.