Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey is boosting its hourly page to $20 for ride operators for the busiest periods of the 2022 season to recruit more workers.
The park is hoping to hire 4,000 seasonal employees this year. The $20 rate will only apply during times of peak demand, according to a Great Adventure press release, while the base pay for ride operators will remain $15 per hour during day shifts and $16 per hour at night. That’s up from $12.50 before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other positions, including lifeguards, security and landscapers, can make between $16 and $18 per hour, with immediate interviews being offered in more than 10 departments.
“We want to recruit team members who will maintain our high standards of safety and guest service, and it’s crucial that we offer competitive wages to attract and retain these top employees,” Great Adventure park president John Winkler said in a statement Tuesday. “This wage increase demonstrates our commitment to being the employer of choice for central New Jersey.”
This is a sign of a continuing trend across the U.S. where there are more jobs available than there are workers. The theme park industry, which relies heavily on cheap, seasonal labor, has been hit especially hard. In 2021, Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio had to close Tuesdays and Wednesdays for portions of June — a time when daily operations are the norm — because it had failed to attract enough workers to staff the park seven days a week. It was able to restore daily operations by raising its wages to $20 per hour.
Those issues haven’t disappeared in 2022, so neither have the incentives. SeaWorld San Antonio, for example, told KSAT that it’s offering $1,000 bonuses for new lifeguards and $750 bonuses for new food and beverage workers.
For workers, there’s no guarantee the increased pay will be permanent. Cedar Point dropped its starting wages back to $15 per hour for its upcoming season, though returning workers would stay at the $20 per hour rate offered last year.