Talent Canada
Talent Canada

Features Recruitment
Canada’s Wonderland, Wet’n’Wild share mass-hiring secrets as they prep for 2023 season

Avatar photo

February 16, 2023
By Todd Humber

A lifeguard on duty at Wet'n'Wild Toronto in Brampton, Ont. Photo: Wet'n'Wild

Hiring one worker can pose enough of a challenge, but when you’re looking to hire hundreds — or even thousands — of seasonal employees, you need to take a different tact.

Canada’s Wonderland, an amusement park located just north of Toronto, is currently on the hunt for 4,000 employees as it prepares to open for the 2023 season. Taneshia Khan, HR director, said one of the keys is casting the net early.

“We’ve already started recruiting. We actually start very early in January and run it all the way through to when the park opens,” she said.

It also reaches out to staff who worked at the park last year to bring them back for another season.


“Obviously the more retention we have, the better. Rehires are always a priority, we want to see those people come back year over year,” said Khan.

Sweetening the pot

For 2023, Wonderland is sweetening the pot with higher wages for people who want to return.

“They get a premium rate, essentially, if they want to come back to the park in the same position that they worked previously in the 2022 season,” she said.

Wonderland typically is able to retain about 40 per cent of its staff year-over-year, and that’s the goal for 2023 as well, she said. Among the roles it’s looking to fill are ride operators, food and beverage, lifeguards, maintenance workers and more.

While many companies are struggling with labour shortages, Wonderland is seeing a record number of job applications, she said.

“We’re seeing the most applications we’ve ever seen, historically, and we’re at this point in the season over 21,000 applicants,” said Khan. “It’s really blown up over the last couple of weeks.”

The park’s season lines up nicely with student calendars, and the company is also flexible with it’s scheduling. That’s handy for students, and even retirees, who want to work but don’t necessarily want full-time employment, she said.

Wet’n’Wild’s recruitment efforts

Wet’n’Wild Toronto, a waterpark located in Brampton, Ont., is also kicking off its 2023 mass hiring campaign. It has about 500 positions to fill, according to Susan Kruizinga, director of sales and marketing.

Roles include lifeguards, admissions, food service, maintenance and security. Like Wonderland, it puts a strong focus on rehiring staff from last year.

“We put a letter out in January to all the rehires that we want to come back, and we see a really good percentage coming back,” she said. “That just makes us feel like we’re doing a good job as employers, giving them a good experience.”

The waterpark, which has been in operation for six years, typically sees 40 per cent of its workers come the following season.

The park just hired its first HR person, in a seasonal role working from February through the end of October, she said.

As the applications are sorted through, candidates are invited to do an interview. The company pivoted to virtual hiring during the pandemic, but Kruizinga is hoping they can return to in-person interviews.

“We’re hoping that once the weather gets back we can go to more in-person job fairs, because that’s really how you can see whether they’re somebody that going to like working at a waterpark,” she said. “You’ve got close to 5,000 to 6,000 people a day coming in, and not only do you have to do your job but you have to make sure the guests are happy as well.”

Hard-to-fill positions

The hardest positions to fill at Wet’n’Wild are lifeguards, she said.

“You can’t keep blaming the pandemic, but that definitely had an impact on lifeguards because they need to get recertified,” she said. “That’s not an easy task. It’s a hard test. A lot of people, because they couldn’t recertify, they just stopped.”

At Wonderland, COVID has created issues for some specific roles — such as security guards, said Khan. With the pandemic forcing closures, many professionals left for more secure work in other industries.

“Obviously, people want to feel secure and they want secure employment,” she said. “When you look at the airport, you look at the hospitals, they are less likely to close down in a pandemic versus Canada’s Wonderland. So those were a struggle for us in the last season, but we’re hoping for a better year.”

Fun perks

While Wet’n’Wild offers competitive wages, it also has fun perks like employee slide nights, free lunches on occasion and just surprising them with things they wouldn’t expect, she said. That includes participating in a program that gets employees free admission or discounted rates at more than 100 Ontario attractions.

“And, to be honest, it’s fun. Working at a waterpark is a lot of work, it can be hot and you have to deal with a lot of guests,” she said. “But they do make great friendships and everybody seems to feel like we’re one big family by the end of summer.”

Guests play one of the games at Canada’s Wonderland in Vaughan, Ont. Photo: Wonderland

Treating staff right turns them into ambassadors who will help fill the talent pipeline, she said.

At Wonderland, staff get free admission and also earn tickets they can give to friends and family.

“We also offer discounts on food items, discounts on merchandise,” said Khan. Like Wet’n’Wild, it also participates in the Ontario attractions reciprocal program to give associates discounts at other sites across the province.

Community partnerships and social media

Wonderland puts a strong focus on community partnerships to help fill its talent pipeline, including connecting with post-secondary schools and community centres near the park.

It also leverages social media, including Instagram, TikTok and Facebook to spread the word.

Wet’n’Wild adopts a similar tactic in building relationships with schools close to its location, said Kruizinga.

Assessing candidates

When hiring, Wet’n’Wild looks for a few basic things, she said. In video interviews, she has seen candidates stare at the ceiling for the entire conversation.

“They’re not even looking at you,” she said. “Video interviews are a thing right now, and you want to see that smile, that eye contact and see the way they present themselves. The rest of the skills — how to flip a hamburger, how to push someone down a tube correctly, we can teach those.”

At Wonderland, Khan said a lot of the assessments are group interviews and are scenario based.

“When you look at the special roles, like character talent, performers, we do run auditions for those particular positions,” she said. “But a lot of our interview questions are scenario-based to help with how the candidate would react in certain situations that are relevant to their day-to-day responsibilities.”

Job fair at Wonderland starts this weekend

Wonderland is also hosting an in-person job fair, with a hiring blitz running from Feb. 18 to Feb. 24, excluding Family Day on Feb. 20.

It takes place at the Human Resource Centre at 1 Amusement Drive in Vaughan, Ont.

“It’s the first year we’re trying it, so we don’t really know what the turnout will be,” she said. “But the benefit is that people can get hired on the spot, right? Whereas submitting an online application will take time to process, get a call back and book an interview eventually.”

Print this page


Stories continue below