Industry Influencer

The future

In 2020 Amanda will become the third woman to chair IAAPA in its 100 year history, and the first woman in Europe. How does that feel? I ask. “Amazing. They are very balanced and I think they like that I am a woman. My father was chairman and know that he thought it was an important job and I was very proud of him. I feel very honoured.” While Amanda admits that the number of high profile

sure everything works; you have to be good at logistics and push everyone around you to be their best. Passion is essential, as is understanding your audience, creating something that inspires their imagination and gives them the power to dream.” In terms of live entertainment and her continuing commitment to it, I’m keen to understand if Amanda ever had an ‘end goal’. “I’ve never envisaged an end goal, as I always want to make something better. It would be nice to do a show in Vegas. It nearly happened a couple of times, but then we had 9/11 and the next time, the credit crunch. It may happen, but the timing has to be right.”

Park changes With concerns about security following 9/11, one of the

first things Amanda did, was to change the park’s admission policy and “gate the place, which meant school parties could come.” Guests can purchase a an unlimited ride wristband, which offers access to all of the rides, or a Pleasure Beach Pass which allows access to the park, access to a number of attractions and discounts on entertainment. “This gives people a choice; if they don’t want to go on the rides, they can simply enjoy the ambience of the park,” she says.

“Nobody thought it was a good idea at the time, but I

didn’t want the park to be a walk through; I wanted it to be an occasion, an amazing family day out. We put in fountains, new walk ways, roller coasters, Nickelodeon Land; we spent a lot of money. As a family business it’s important that we keep re-investing in the park, it’s important to Blackpool too - this isn’t a greenfield site, its is a resort town.” Each and every ride at Blackpool Pleasure Beach is unique, says Amanda and “we work closely with manufacturers.” Before installing ICON, her brother, deputy managing director Nick Thompson travelled the world looking at rides, but their engineers wanted to work with Mack and Amanda and Nick agreed. “As a family business themselves, I think it’s very important to them to have installed a ride at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.” It was a highly collaborative project, with Amanda even choosing the pattern on the cars. As someone who pays attention to every last detail, samples went back and forth several times until the design was perfect. ICON has since taken over as the No. 1 ride at Blackpool Pleasure Beach and won several awards.

MARCH 2019 45

women in the industry is limited, she feels that she has influence now. Her grandmother was a great source of inspiration in this sense; “she was very involved, a figurehead of the family business - she didn’t run it, but she came to work every day and everyone valued her views. She was very knowledgeable and an excellent sounding board”. Amanda’s grandmother lived until the grand age of 101. When she reached her centenary, Amanda asked her what she thought had changed most in her lifetime, “she told me it was the way that people treat each other, she felt there was a lack of respect now. Life will always change with technology, she said, but the way we treat people never should.” It was a response that surprised Amanda, but it resonated strongly with her and it’s a mantra she now lives by: “It’s how I continue from day to day. I like to think I am very fair and I have an open door policy. If any of my staff have a problem at home or at work they can talk to me and, I hope they know that.” So what’s changed in the industry? “Everything is getting

taller, faster, bigger and better. Its constantly evolving, full of creative people, exciting manufacturers. It will never sit still, that’s the glory of it. “Every new project has different, unique challenges. Every day is a new challenge; you just have to meet it, greet it and treat it with the passion it deserves.” And with that, our whirlwind conversation is over. But what

is clear, is that Amanda’s story is far from over and I for one can’t wait to see what she does next.

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