Labor shortage forces Kings Dominion to cut hours

With the lifting of pandemic-related capacity restrictions, many families are excitedly planning “normal” summer activities, but a labor shortage may make it more difficult to visit Virginia’s popular theme parks.

Kings Dominion in Doswell, Virginia, is closed Monday through Thursday for the first half of June. The park’s June hours of 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. are shorter than in previous years.

At Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA, the parks are open daily in June.

The parks are raising pay for part-time seasonal workers, as part of their recruiting efforts.

The labor shortage at theme parks is a national one, attractions and leisure industry analyst Dennis Speigel told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Speigel was the first general manager when Kings Dominion opened in 1975.

Fewer foreign students will be in the United States this summer, because of a slow return of the State Department’s foreign worker program, Speigel said.

Typically, most theme park employees are high school and college students.

“Mothers have been holding back allowing their kids go out and work in positions,” because of the pandemic, said Speigel.

Speigel said the pay raises are unprecedented.

At Kings Dominion, starting pay for part-time season workers this summer is $13 per hour, with lifeguard jobs starting at $15. The previous starting salary was $9.25, according to the Times-Dispatch.

The theme parks in Williamsburg are hiring for culinary jobs, ride operators, and lifeguards, with positions staring from $13 to $15.50 an hour. The parks also are offering a $250 signing bonus, according to its website.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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