Jessica Alfaro is Assistant General Manager and Director of Operations for the Santa Cruz Seaside Company, where she ensures that the Boardwalk is running smoothly and that guests have a safe, top-notch experience. A true Santa Cruz native, Jessica has several family members who have been employed at the Boardwalk, including her mom who once worked in Ticket Sales and Parking. Jessica has worn many hats at the Boardwalk over the years, since beginning her “summer job” 26 years ago. Enjoy this Employee Spotlight on Jessica as we learn more about her and her role at the Boardwalk.
What different roles have you had at the Boardwalk?
I have had the following positions:
- Game Operator
- Operations Office Staff
- Season Pass Office Supervisor
- Operations Office Assistant Manager
- Guest Services Manager
- Interim Tickets and Parking Manager
- Director of Operations
- Assistant General Manager
Tell us about how you got into your line of work.
June of 1998, I was looking for a summer job and applied for the last opening in the Operations Office. I was supposed to be here one summer, but I enjoyed the job and the people I worked with, so I stayed.
What did you think you were going to be when you grew up? What did you want to be when you grew up?
I thought I would be a teacher or a nurse, but I remember playing with my cousins and always pretending to work in a busy office with lots of phones. That’s probably why I loved being the Manager of Guest Services. I enjoyed being in the middle of all the action and “putting out fires.”
What does it mean to be Assistant General Manager/Director of Operations?
I oversee our Technical Services Department and all the revenue making departments at the Boardwalk except for Food and Beverage. I am responsible for ensuring the Boardwalk operates smoothly and that it looks and feels clean, safe and welcoming for all guests. Our number one priority is to always provide world-class guest service and a big part of my job is to find new ways to improve efficiencies and enhance our employee and guest experience.
What is a typical day like?
A typical day includes many meetings, emails, checking-in with staff, and if I’m lucky a walk around the Boardwalk. When I’m Boardwalk MOD (Manager on Duty) I get to spend the day outside talking to staff.
What do you like most about your job, what are some challenges?
There are many things I like about my job: I enjoy helping and inspiring our staff to get out of their comfort zone and believe in themselves; I love seeing staff blossom and become confident in their roles; I also love to see families smiling and having fun together riding rides or playing games. It feels good to know that we make that happen. I enjoy learning and thankfully my job allows me to learn new things every day, whether it be from our staff, a peer, mentor, a project, a conference, or a difficult guest service situation, I am constantly learning and challenging myself. My job is never boring.
Some challenges: Time will always be a challenge, it seems like we never have enough of it, and I often wish I had more time to spend talking with staff.
I never imagined that it would take us this long to recover from COVID. Many departments are still in the process of being rebuilt, and training and engagement programs are slowly coming back. All of this has been happening while we have been very busy. Having to reopen the park and work in a fast-paced environment with less staff, training, and resources has been challenging for many departments.
What’s your favorite ride/game/event?
My favorite ride is the Giant Dipper because of its history and nostalgia. Many people come here to ride it on their birthday or wedding day. I grew up across the street, hearing people screaming as they experienced that first drop. I especially enjoy seeing it at night with all the lights on. My favorite game was Fascination because I played it with my grandma. I remember we won enough tickets to get a fire station phone, which we had in our living room for a while. Not sure why we did that. I also enjoyed working that game and I’m excited that we recently brought back a new version of it (Roll-A- Bingo). I like the Fiesta en la Playa event because it’s nice to see so many of our employees attend and bring their family members.
Do you have a favorite time or place on the Boardwalk?
I love to walk the park in the mornings when it’s quiet and clean. It feels good to see the park ready for guests to enjoy their day. When I need fresh air and quiet time, I sometimes stand at the seawall near Tsunami and stare at the ocean. That area of the beach reminds me of my childhood.
What is a favorite memory from work?
One of my favorite memories is when we won the IAAPA Brass Ring Award for the Boardwalk’s Best program. I am very proud of how this program impacts the employee and guest experience and how it has evolved since we first introduced it. This program is a true collaboration of many departments, and that Brass Ring Award is a representation of our efforts.
International Associations of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) is the Global Association for the Attractions Industry. The Brass Ring Award is a symbol of achievement, “awarding the innovation and unwavering spirit” of the industry. Boardwalk’s Best is a training program developed to focus on employees creating a warm, friendly, fun atmosphere for Guests and each other.
How are you involved in the larger Amusement Industry? Why is this important to you?
I am currently a member of the IAAPA Amusement Parks and Attractions committee. I collaborate with other industry leaders and often share our training materials and resources. Having these relationships is valuable so that we can share ideas and support each other. This is important to me because I want to establish myself so that I can better help and support the leaders in our company. I also believe that women are underrepresented in this industry, and I want to do what I can to change that. We have many talented and hard-working women at the Boardwalk and in this industry and we need to give them an opportunity.
What are you most proud of & what do you consider your biggest accomplishment during your time at the Boardwalk?
I am proud of my team and how hard they work, creating our 24/7 Dispatch Center, our Boardwalk’s Best Program and how it’s impacting our employees and guest experience, and our new Retail Department. I would say my biggest accomplishment is being the first Assistant General Manager in the history of the Boardwalk. I am proud, honored, and privileged to be in this role and to work with many amazing and passionate individuals. I take my job very seriously and am deeply grateful for all the opportunities that have been presented to me.
For the next generations of Boardwalk employees or guests reading this years from now: is there any wisdom you’d want to pass on to them? What would you want them to know?
For the next generation of Boardwalk employees, I would say: Believe in yourself and be brave, say yes to all opportunities that are presented and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Know your values and always stay true to them. Hard work, humility, respect, and integrity will get you far.
Why do you think guests love and feel such a deep connection to the Boardwalk?
It’s a special place. We all have memories of being here with loved ones and making great memories.
What’s a fun fact about you many people may not know?
I am a Disney fan and go to a Disney Park 1-2 times a year. I wear Mickey ears and like to be there from opening time to when the last firework goes off. It’s one of my happy places.