Zach Clapper is a Guest Experience Manager at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
What made you decide to join the Attractions Industry?
My earliest memories as a child are of amusement parks. I grew up going to Cedar Point and Kings Island every weekend during the summer, and I quickly realized that was the environment I wanted to have a career in. I loved the operations side and was obsessed with running the business. After finishing college and bouncing around different attractions jobs, I have since fallen in love with developing cast/team members into being the best they can possibly be, both professionally and personally.
How do you stay motivated during the most stressful times?
I thrive in chaotic situations when quick decisions are needed, so I actually look for stressful environments so I can help make them better.
Describe an experience (either with your guests or your team) that was one of the most fulfilling moments of your career so far?
During college, I was a business operations intern at Busch Gardens Williamsburg for two summers. I supervised a pretty large team, and one of my team members happened to have Down syndrome. As I got to know this team member over my two years we became pretty close and had a great working relationship. At the end of my last summer he came in on his day off and found me and gave me a hug. He said “I’ve never had a leader be as patient with me and spend as much time with me as you have. I’ll never forget you.” That has stuck with me to this day.
What would you say is your biggest accomplishment to date?
Being on the opening leadership team of Pandora: the World of Avatar.
If you weren’t in this industry, what would you be doing?
I think it would be interesting to be on the fan experience team for a good college or pro football team.
What advice would you give yourself on the first day in the industry?
Be the first to raise a hand for every opportunity that is out there. Especially for tasks that no one else wants to do.