Belmont Park is expecting its busiest weekend in more than a year but will be managing the anticipated crowds with fewer employees.
“Our staffing levels are probably about 80% of what they should be,” said general manager Steve Thomas. “We’re short about 100 people, just spread across all our departments; our food and beverage, our restaurants, our retail and our rides and attractions,” he added.
Thomas said its been an uphill climb trying to attract workers after the pandemic. He said the park began recruitment efforts in March when they heard rumblings there could be a soft opening in April.
Those efforts weren’t enough, so Belmont hosted a job fair offering free tacos to every applicant. In one weekend they managed to hire 60 people, but it still wasn’t enough.
Get San Diego local news, weather forecasts, sports and lifestyle stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC San Diego newsletters.
“We started offering a bunch of really cool employee incentives,” said Thomas. “We’re feeding the employees every weekend… We have parking spots for them and we’re doing this hiring bonus program where if they work 300 hours between the beginning of June and September, they can be in a pool for $20,000.”
“I get free food so I’m good,” said smiling Midway worker Emilee Geater, who plans to stay at Belmont Park through the summer.
NBC 7 wanted to know whether the staffing shortfall would impact guests. Thomas said that while the park is still providing a great experience for its guests, things are running at about 80% of the norm for this time of year.
Most guests we spoke to didn’t notice. “We got tickets right away. We’ve been on rides right away,” said San Diego mom Antonette Kennedy, who was visiting the park with another mom and their children.
Johnny Manzano said he noticed slightly longer lines and said it takes a bit longer to get served, but he’s just happy he can bring his children back to Belmont Park after the pandemic. “The kids have fun and that’s all that matters,” he said.