An Interview with New Carowinds General Manager Brad Marcy
This year, Carowinds will be welcoming several new attractions – among them, the Carolina Harbor water park rebranding and expansion and Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 3Z Arena. Also “new for 2016” is General Manager Brad Marcy, who comes to Carowinds after serving as General Manager at Dorney Park in Allentown, PA. After starting at Carowinds last fall, Marcy took some time out of his preparations for the 2016 season to answer a few questions for us.
Brad Marcy stands in front of a slide tower at Carolina Harbor: Photo: Charlotte Business Journal
C101: Tell us a little about yourself.
Brad Marcy: I was born and raised in the Pittsburgh area, south of the city. Being from Pittsburgh, I am a die-hard Pittsburgh sports fan — Steelers, Pirates, Penguins, and Pitt Panthers! (Maybe I’ve taken a liking to the Carolina Panthers, too!). I graduated from California University of PA with a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education, Science. I have a beautiful wife, Nora, whom I met while working at Cedar Point. We have no children except for our dog, Jake.
C101: How did you get your start in the Theme Park Industry?
BM: While in college, a group of friends and I were discussing what we wanted to do for the summer. We knew Cedar Point had dormitories and some of our friends worked there, so we decided to apply. I was hired into the Games Department and worked basketball hoops during the summer of 1996. I returned each summer, and upon college graduation, was offered a management position in the Games Department.
C101: Can you talk about your time at Cedar Point and Dorney Park, and how you worked your way from Director of Merchandise and Games at Cedar Point to GM and VP at Dorney Park?
BM: As I mentioned, I began as a seasonal Games Associate at Cedar Point and worked for three years as a Games Supervisor. Those four summers provided me with some of the best experiences of my life. They really laid the foundation for how to not only provide an exceptional guest experience, but also how to build an effective team and achieve goals. Those years helped me become an effective Area Manager and ultimately move into higher level positions such as the Director of their Merchandise Division. During my time as Director of Merchandise at Cedar Point, we were able to launch many successful projects and product lines for the park which helped in my development. I also worked for many successful leaders at Cedar Point which helped provide me with leadership principles I use today.
Upon moving to Dorney Park, I had the opportunity to lead the Foods and Merchandise Divisions. Having involvement with an amusement park food and beverage operation was also key in learning how a different park operates. It was a great move for me and really helped prepare me for future opportunities in the company.
C101: What is the biggest difference you see in working at Cedar Point or Dorney Park versus working at Carowinds?
BM: Cedar Point is more of a destination and vacation park, whereas Dorney Park is more of a regional and local park. Carowinds is a mixture of both. It has the rides and appeal to be a destination, but also has a lot of amenities and distinction of the Carolinas to make it a park that local residents can embrace and enjoy.
C101: Has there been any “culture shock” from moving to North Carolina from Pennsylvania?
BM: The biggest shock? The weather. Although the snow does not accumulate in the Carolinas like it does in in Pennsylvania or Ohio, once it falls, it stays until it melts naturally. No snow plows, no salt (laughing). I was laughed out of the room when I asked when the plows were coming through.
C101: 2015 was a big year for Carowinds and 2016 is shaping up to be just as big. What are you most excited for in 2016 at Carowinds?
BM: There’s so much for 2016, I can’t choose just one. So what comes next after the record-breaking Fury 325? Even more attractions and amenities to help guests have a best day ever experience! We have so many great additions this season including the world’s first digital intra-active experience, Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare: 3Z Arena and the acrobatic stunts in our LIVE show, Cirque Imagine. Plus, 27-acres of splashtastic fun at Carolina Harbor Waterpark. The waterpark will feature Blackbeard’s Revenge for the thrill seekers, Seaside Splashworks and Myrtle Turtle Bay for families, a new wave pool – and don’t forget about the full service restaurant and bar.There’s something for everyone at Carowinds.
C101: What is your vision for Carowinds as the park moves into 2016 and beyond?
BM: The Charlotte market is booming, and we want to grow right along with it. The addition of Fury 325, Carolina Harbor and a host of other new attractions and amenities is all part of our $50 million multi-year expansion, and it doesn’t stop here. Stay tuned for future announcements later this season.
C101: What do you feel is the most rewarding part of working in the amusement industry?
BM: All of the planning and hard work by the Carowinds team to create a best day ever experience for our guests and also our associates.
C101: What is the most challenging part of working in the amusement industry?
BM: Honestly, I’d say the weather. The safety of our guests and associates is our number one priority. There are times we have to close rides due to rain, thunderstorms, etc. and it can put a damper on a guest’s day.
C101: Do you have any advice for our readers on how to one day become a theme park executive?
BM: Here are three key things I’d share: 1) Pay attention to detail. Listen to feedback from both guests and associates in order to make decisions to enhance the guest experience. 2) Keep an open mind and look for ways to make things happen rather than ways to not. 3) Know how to have fun!
C101: What’s your favorite roller coaster, at any park anywhere in the world?
BM: Maverick at Cedar Point was my favorite…until I rode Fury 325!!!
Coaster101 would like to thank Brad Marcy for his time, and PR Manager Laresa Thompson for helping facilitate this interview. Carowinds opens for the 2016 Season on March 25. For more information, be sure to visit their website, www.Carowinds.com, and stay tuned to Coaster101.com for great Caroblogger content!
Cover Image: Charlotte Business Journal