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Meet Valleyfair's New Director of Operations

Kelsey Bailey

Kelsey joined the Valleyfair team in 2017 as PR and Communications Manager. She enjoys eating endless funnel cakes, riding Renegade multiple times a day, and telling all the wonderful stories about the inner workings of Valleyfair. Twitter: @kelseymegard.

A long history of amusement park management follows Jessica Naderman to her arrival in Minnesota as Valleyfair’s Director of Operations. 

Jessica began her journey as a young high schooler, landing a summer job at King’s Island amusement park in Ohio. There, she built the foundation of her career as a ride operator of The Beast, at the time the world’s longest and fastest wooden roller coaster. 

Throughout her time at King’s Island, Jessica learned many leadership skills and responsibilities at a young age. “The fact that you gain applicable business skills at age 18 or 19 is really unique,” she said, “I wouldn’t have had that opportunity anywhere else.”

She transferred her work skills to California’s Great America, where she developed the park’s rides and aquatics team. One of the most memorable events in her career was when her team brought Halloween Haunt to Great America.

“We had to really work hard to figure out where we were going to put and build attractions,” Jessica said, “I’m really proud of that first year of Haunt because we worked so hard at it and to see the guests really like the experience of knowing how much work you put into the event is really rewarding.”

Jessica gained many more skills that shaped her management career. At Elitch Gardens in Denver, Colorado, she worked as the manager of safety, security, and loss prevention. At Raging Waters in Sacramento, California, she oversaw revenue and finance as the general manager.

In the end, Jessica found herself coming back to Cedar Fair, the company that originally started her career. Her love for the amusement park business carried her to Valleyfair, where she will now oversee operations and management this year and beyond. Jessica has bold visions for Valleyfair’s future.

“For entertainment, I want to grow out the live entertainment program and have it complement other live events taking place,” she said, “For aquatics, we want to expand the waterpark and keep it safe. For rides, we want to make sure there are no lines and we are getting more people on our rides. And for park services, I want to make sure the park stays clean and we make both guests and employees feel that they’re in a safe and clean environment.”

What Jessica likes about working in management and operations is the ‘people’ aspect of developing and leading others. Working towards a common goal where everyone plays their role is something of value to her as well. She hopes to pass on the skills she has learned to others.

“If you have the ability to come in with a positive attitude every day and you want opportunities to learn, grow, and develop, that will all be fostered here,” Jessica says, “If anyone is looking for a practical experience that they can apply elsewhere in their life, I highly recommend working at Valleyfair.”

Though she is familiar with the Midwest, Jessica thinks Minnesota is unique. The big metro impresses her, along with the nice people living in the community. She jokes that she can’t wait for it to turn green outside and this may be the longest winter she has ever experienced.

While she hasn’t been on any rides at Valleyfair, Jessica strongly believes she’ll enjoy Renegade since she has a love for wooden roller coasters.

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Kelsey Bailey

Kelsey joined the Valleyfair team in 2017 as PR and Communications Manager. She enjoys eating endless funnel cakes, riding Renegade multiple times a day, and telling all the wonderful stories about the inner workings of Valleyfair. Twitter: @kelseymegard.

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