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These Maintenance Workers Probably Aren’t What You Imagine

Danny Messinger

As area manager of digital marketing, I get to tell the incredible stories of our park to the world—and take our biggest fans Between the Lines. I’ve been an incurable amusement park fanatic since I was a kid and have worked at two other parks (shout-out to Cedar Point and Valleyfair!). Now, I can’t wait to share my passion with our readers! Find me @DannyMessinger on Twitter.

Close your eyes for a moment and picture a California’s Great America maintenance employee.

No—really. Take a minute to paint a mental picture of an amusement park maintenance worker in your head. Imagine what they’re doing, what they’re wearing, what they’re holding. All done? Great.

I’d be willing to bet most of you just conjured up an image of a maintenance worker that’s an awful lot like the guys and gals you see at your neighborhood car shop. Light blue uniform, thin layer of grease and dust, not afraid to get a little dirty to make sure things are working just right.

If so, you’re close—but there are important differences between the folks who tune up your car and the highly trained team at Great America that keeps our rides running and our park looking in tip-top shape.

Meet Mike, Great America’s Director of Facilities, Maintenance and Construction

Mike Maney is the director of facilities, maintenance and construction (FMC) at Great America—and he’s one of the newest members of the management team at the park. He joined the company late last year, so if you visited during WinterFest in 2019, you’ve already seen some of his handiwork.

Mike’s at the helm of the FMC department, which is one of the largest and most varied groups at the park. From ensuring the safety of our thrill rides to keeping our buildings’ facades brightly lit and freshly painted, his employees do so much more than just basic maintenance.

Mike’s team includes skilled carpenters who scale Gold Striker and The Grizzly to perform safety checks, electricians who literally make sure we keep the lights on, technical experts who oversee things like the background music and FunTVs that play throughout the park, mechanics who double-check ride vehicles and safety systems every day, an army of landscapers…the list goes on.

One thing his team is always doing across their diverse work areas is seeking out ways to improve processes and efficiencies.

Mike says that “we look for areas that might need a different maintenance schedule. How we could improve training. Ways to really take the park to the next level.”

That means shorter lines, more rides and a better experience for our guests.

Off-Season Improvements

Mike and the FMC team have certainly been hard at work during our park’s temporary closure. Although we haven’t been able to open yet this summer due to COVID-19, Mike’s talented team aims to guarantee Great America is in excellent shape when we are able to reopen.

“We have been rehabbing attractions and focusing on aesthetics,” says Mike. “We are now able to operate three trains on RailBlazer, which gives us even more efficiencies. We also dug in deep on Whitewater Falls, where we have rebuilt pumps and the drive system to ensure the ride remains in good condition for many years to come.”

The FMC team has also repainted The Grizzly’s ride vehicles and added new padding, which will give riders an even more comfortable ride.

Elsewhere in the park, Mike says his painting and landscaping crews have been hard at work.

“We’ve done lots of work painting the Rue le Dodge building and Delta Flyer station,” Mike says, “which are the types of projects that will help create a great first impression and enhance the beauty of the park.”

Keeping Positive and Staying Busy

The past few months have been challenging for everyone, but Mike says that he’s been incredibly impressed by his crew and their positive attitude.

“Taking care of a park like this requires commitment,” he says, “and the resiliency of our staff through the coronavirus disruption has really impressed me. The sheer drive of our staff, and the passion and pride they take in the park is amazing. When we get past these times and can reopen, we will be able to quickly get back to operating mode thanks to their hard work.”

Mike adds that he can’t wait to meet more guests in the park—just as soon as it is safe to reopen our gates.

“I want my time here to help transition Great America into a new phase of maintaining and improving the park. I am so excited to lend my expertise and take this amazing place to the next level!”

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Danny Messinger

As area manager of digital marketing, I get to tell the incredible stories of our park to the world—and take our biggest fans Between the Lines. I’ve been an incurable amusement park fanatic since I was a kid and have worked at two other parks (shout-out to Cedar Point and Valleyfair!). Now, I can’t wait to share my passion with our readers! Find me @DannyMessinger on Twitter.

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