BRISTOL — With the heat wave kicking it into high gear this month, Lake Compounce has been crowded with guests eager to enjoy the last weeks of summer and ride one of the most popular park attractions — Boulder Dash.
The Record-Journal recently met up with one of the ride’s operators Samantha McGrail. The college student chatted about her summer job, her favorite ride and the guests before the park opened for the day.
Q: How long have you been working at the park?
McGrail: I’ve been working here since June, so three months.
Q: What rides do you operate?
McGrail: I operate Boulder Dash, I also operate Thunder and Lightning, the Kiddie Carousel and the Kiddie Rollercoaster.
Q: How many rides do you operate a day?
McGrail: Typically we actually are on two rides a day. It depends how many rides you know. It changes up so that you never, day-to-day, have the same routine.
Q: How many staff members operate a ride with you?
McGrail: There are three to five of us here when this ride is operating.
Q: What is your favorite ride to operate?
McGrail: Probably Boulder Dash. The guests love it, they look forward to coming here and there’s a lot of camaraderie on this ride.
Q: What made you decide to work here for the summer?
McGrail: I actually have a family member who has worked here for about four years and I figured that there was a reason she kept coming back.
Q: What kind of training did you do?
McGrail: So we actually have to learn the ins and outs of every single ride that we operate. We have to become certified on the ride. So for example I know things about this ride that a guest probably wouldn’t ask, but I know the types of wheels on this ride, I know what the function of the emergency stop is, how it affects the ride, the different things that it does. Basically everything about the ride, things that nobody would ask but that are important so we can operate the ride safely.
Q: How long did the training take?
McGrail: We have a full day training session then after that each ride takes about an hour or so to learn.
Q: What is a typical day like for ride operators at the park?
McGrail: So the park opens at 11 a.m. everyday. You come in, you’re told which ride that you are assigned to that day and you head up to that ride. You do a few test runs to get it started. You have a lunch break which is awesome and you just operate the ride and interact with guests.
Q: What are safety protocols you needed to learn in order to operate the rides?
McGrail: We have to obviously know where all the fire extinguishers are and how to operate those, not that we expect anything bad to happen but we have to know how to use those. Some other safety things we talk to the guests about is we tell them how to properly sit on each ride and we have restraints and buckles that we learn how to properly fasten with each ride.
Q: What are you studying in college when you are not working here?
McGrail: My major is computer science and applied statistics.
Q: How does this job impact your college education and future plans going forward?
McGrail: Working at Lake Compounce helps me in interacting with the guests which is huge because you learn a lot of really valuable social skills. My major, what I’m studying, is pretty technical so learning how the rides operate is fascinating to me and just makes me that much more excited to go back to school.
Q: What’s the guests’ reactions when they get off the ride?
McGrail: They’re typically extremely happy, which is awesome. Even when they’re about to board the ride, they’ve been waiting in line for this. It’s an awesome moment to see the looks on their faces.