Workamping in the US – Part 4 – Amusement Parks

This week’s blog is taken from the November/December issue of Workamper News magazine from 2015. This issue was on Workamping in America’s amusement parks. There are articles on Darien Lake in Darien Center, NY and Story Land in Glen, NH. But the one I want to share today is about one of the oldest & biggest Workamper programs – Adventureland in Des Moines, IA.


Workamping for America’s Amusement

Adventureland has provided many fond memories for families over the last 40 plus years. It all began in the spring of 1973 when bulldozers and earth-moving machines plowed under cornfields just east of Des Moines to reshape the contour of the land to make way for what is now Iowa’s largest tourist attraction, Adventureland Park.

Years before, the grounds belonged to the Des Moines Airport where Charles Lindbergh once stopped in 1924. These grounds later became a family farm where fir trees served as a windbreak for its old farmhouse. The Farmhouse and trees still stand today in the Iowa farm section of the park.

Adventureland was to open in July 1974 but damage from the tail end of a tornado caused the delay of opening day until late August. There no charge that summer to browse the shops on Main Street. The Palace Theater Show, “A Salute to Iowa Music,” could be seen for just $1.00. Guests were able to take a short walk from Main STreet across a bridge for admission to the amusement park.

Dave Phillips – This is my second year at Adventureland. This summer I’m working the games department. I usually run a different game every day. Games are located in three different areas in the park so there is something different every day.

My wife and myself are originally from Council Bluffs, IA. With three grandchildren graduating from high school the past two years, we wanted to be near by during the spring and summer, and Adventureland was exactly what we were looking for. We stay for free, we get paid an hourly wage, they furnish our uniforms, and the food in the commissary is good.

The campground is very nice with large paved sites as well as paved streets. They have on site propane, a large outdoor pool, three laundries and security. You’ll find a great variety of stores and restaurants nearby.

Workampers should know that working in an amusement park requires lots of time on your feet; very little sitting down and lots of walking. You work mainly outdoors in all kinds of weather (rain or shine, hot or cold). But I like working with people, especially children. I have worked with the public my entire career. Getting the opportunity to meet people from all over the country – whether they are managers, co-workers or customers – si something that I enjoy. It makes me happy to see people happy.

Sharon Davis – My husband and I are in our second year of Workamping and our second year working for Adventureland. Friends of mine had been talking to us for a while about their Workamping jobs and how much they enjoyed it. They told us about Workamper News and were amazed at the opportunities out there. We decided on Adventureland because we enjoy children and families having fun, and the physical activity.

Working in the retail department, I am responsible for sales and stocking and maintaining each retail outlet in the park. Adventureland has several outlests and sells a variety of merchandise including clothing, toys and collectibles. I am expected to be able to do a reaonsable amount of lifiting and walking with this job.

I am very happy with the management of this park. Another perk is that our RV site will be free if we stay the entire season and that is hard to beat anywhere. I am paid for all hours worked and the compensation here is very competitive when you consider all the benefits. If you enjoy working with people you will love working at this amusement park.

I have enjoyed the opportunity to do something constructive in my retirement years and this opportunity fits the bill. It’s been a privilege to be involved with the friendly people of Iowa and surrounding areas. We have also made some lifetime friends with some of the other Workampers.

Judy Gorden – My husband and I have been Workamping for 11 years. Out of all the amusement parks hiring Workampers, we have only worked for Adventureland.

I am in the rides department. The average duties of a rides employee include greeting guests and answering questions, operating all rides in the park, and making sure all safety guidelines are followed and the guests enjoy the experience.

We chose Adventureland because they have the best Workamper program that we’ve found. It also is centrally located for our family, offers great site benefits, and wages for every hour worked. We wanted to be physically active and keep our personal contact skills. I also like the challenge in learning new things.

When considering Workaming here, you need to make sure you know the requirements of the department you are applying for. Be sure it is a fit physically, and that you are comfortable with the expectations of the job. Listen during the interview and ask any question you feel needs more explanation. Don’t assume or just guess the answer.

Gail Moore – I have been Workamping since 2009. In 2011 and 2012, I worked for Adventureland, and then again this year – 2015. This summer I am working in the foods department. I manage the Coca Cola cafe – a 50s style cafe.

As part of my regular duties, I assign individuals to their daily tasks for the day, along with prepping food for the day starting at about 8 AM. I jump in and help whenever we get busy – making hamburgers, french fries or whatever is necessary. I also do the daily orders which involves ordering all the product we will need for the next day.

Having worked in foods before, I felt that this job would be good for me. The park offers a lot of benefits for Workampers, like all hours paid, and end-of-season bonus, and a lot of nice people to work with. I like the campground; it’s first class. I can walk to work in 10 minutes. Adventureland is just a fun place to work.

If you would like more information about Adventureland, be sure to check out their Featured Employer page at

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