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Worlds of Fun Rides Department Dominates 

Rita Hanch

This is Rita’s second season at the park and as a Communications Coordinator Intern. She recently graduated from Truman State University earning degrees in Communications and English. Rita enjoys the art of storytelling and tossing the good ol’ fris around.

The Worlds of Fun Rides Department dominated their recent safety audit. Eight ride operators received a prestigious International Ride Training (iIROC) Safety Golden Thumb award, which is well above what is typically awarded at other parks. 

We sat down with Katie Newport, Manager of Ride Operations, and Evan Payne, Area Manager of Ride Operations, to ask them what factors led to this success. 

International Ride Training (IRT) is the third-party company that gives Worlds of Fun the framework of what a ride operator should be doing at all times. This can range from ride restraint verification to professionalism. 

The managers train to those standards and IRT sends a representative twice a year. The auditor is disguised in street clothes and they observe in real-time, watch, film and grade. 

The auditor can come to the park, give out an excellent score, but not award any Golden Thumbs. Evan explains that the Golden Thumb is something extra, “It is to acknowledge an excellent ride operator. Somebody that has just gone above and beyond spectacular.” 

During their visit to the park, IRT decided to award eight individuals that stood out and exceeded expectations.  

Adapting to Change

Although the 2020 season has looked a little different, the managers explain, these changes to park hours and protocol have created a unique togetherness within the rides department.  

“It’s been really rewarding to see our supervision team take ownership over these changes. We are a much stronger team," Katie said.    

The shortened schedule allows them to focus on developing leadership and doing fun things to help build a culture around the rides department.  

“We've been trying to get that for years. It's finally happening,” Katie said.  

Evan and Katie explain, in previous seasons, the rides department would be lucky to see one golden thumb awarded. “Our area supervisory team is rock solid. They truly came from the bottom to the top and exceeded expectations.”  

In fact, last year, only one rides associate received a Golden Thumb. 

“The same group from last season has taken these challenges and elevated the quality of leadership,” Evan said.  

Golden Thumb Winners

We would like to recognize the following golden thumb winning ride operators for all their hard work this season! Additionally, we would like to thank those employees from our sister park, Valleyfair, that came out to help Worlds of Fun this season! *Update: Ashley, Team Lead in Planet Snoopy received a Golden Thumb pin too, in the second audit of the season! That makes a total of 9 for 2020! 

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Rita Hanch

This is Rita’s second season at the park and as a Communications Coordinator Intern. She recently graduated from Truman State University earning degrees in Communications and English. Rita enjoys the art of storytelling and tossing the good ol’ fris around.

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