Amanda Thompson / Incoming IAAPA Chair
Amanda Thompson is only the third female to chair IAAPA in its history. The Managing Director of Blackpool Pleasure Beach in the UK since 2004, Amanda has set her sights on the year ahead as IAAPA continues to evolve and grow under new leadership.
What’s your background?
I first worked in the amusement park industry at the age of seven. I was desperately in love with the thought of owning a pony, so I was put to work on our pony ride at Blackpool Pleasure Beach so I could learn to look after one. After that my life in the amusement park industry stopped and I became a guest for the next few years.
When I was 14 or 15, I spent a summer holiday handing out certificates on the Revolution and my love for the industry began again. Next I worked in Blackpool and in the US within the entertainment sector and when I was 20 years old, I began a new company, Stageworks Worldwide Productions, which took shows out into the world of amusement parks, theatre and television.
I worked in Myrtle Beach producing shows at our park, Magic Harbour, then I worked for 13 years at Europa Park producing their ice show, followed by work at Liseberg, Siam Park, Boudewijn Park, Efteling and many many parks in Europe and of course Blackpool Pleasure Beach. I worked all over the UK taking shows to theatres and I worked for IAAPA on the What’s New Theatre and the closing events. I’ve also done television work for the Royal Variety Performance and all types of shows all over the world.
Do you have any key goals for your year as IAAPA chair?
To unite the amusement park world with safety, security and sustainability.
You will become only the third woman to chair IAAPA in its 100-year history, how important is that?
It’s particularly important because I’m the first European woman and it’s been a while since a woman has chaired the association. Hopefully I can encourage more women to step up to the plate and take on the role of chair.
What excites you most about the industry?
Change. Change is extremely exciting and our industry changes every day. We all have unique experiences in every park around the world, every single day.
You take over the chairship as a British theme park operator in the year of Brexit. How will that affect your operations at the park and how do you plan to help IAAPA’s British members through this uncertain period?
I don’t know how any of us can respond to Brexit at the moment because no one knows what will happen, including the European government in Brussels and our government in the UK. Unfortunately it’s going to be one of those issues that you can’t plan for, that you have to hope that you can deal with when and if it happens.
Your predecessor, David Rosenberg, highlighted sustainability as a key issue. Is that something you want to continue to focus on?
Yes, it’s a very important issue which will affect our industry so I intend to carry on the work that David has started.
Where can the industry improve?
A weakness is definitely not having a global safety standard. This is something which needs to be addressed and that would be something I would love to see happen during my tenure.
How do you see the attractions industry changing in the coming years and what trends are emerging?
People are going to want more experiences when they visit amusement parks. Virtual reality has become popular but I think it’s going to swing back and people are going to want more of a hands on experience, whether it’s a pop concert, going on a rollercoaster, or even eating. I think festivals and events within amusement parks will also become bigger and take on more importance.