Mercyhurst communication student eyes the serious side of fun

Mercyhurst communication student eyes the serious side of fun

Open your eyes, remember to breathe and scream bloody murder. Erie’s Joe Pudlick has done it dozens of times.

A roller coaster enthusiast, the Mercyhurst College junior thrills to the electrifying speed, tight turns and loop-the-loops, so much so that what started as a hobby – traveling to amusement parks and riding coasters – has morphed into a vocation.

As a communication major and marketing minor, his goal is to apply his academics to his amusement.

“You can apply communications to just about anything,” Pudlick said. “I’d like to use it working in amusement park operations or marketing the experience.”

He’ll get an insider’s view of the industry next month (Nov. 11-18) when he travels to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions annual expo in Orlando, Fla., an opportunity he sought at the urging of his superiors at SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, operators of Busch Gardens and Water Country USA, Williamsburg, Va., where he interned last summer.

“They recommended I apply and I was accepted,” he said. “I will be an ambassador, responsible for everything from setting up rooms for speakers to escorting VIP guests.”

He’ll also meet people from more than 100 countries, get a sneak preview of new rides and concept designs, sample the latest theme park food innovations, witness cutting-edge entertainment technology, play video games and pack his resume with real-world experience.

“Anybody who is anybody in this industry is going to be there and, on top of everything else, I’m looking forward to learning about convention management and design,” said Pudlick, who enjoys going behind the scenes to see how things are run.

Growing up as a frequent theme park visitor, Pudlick would drive his friends crazy, sampling rides for eight hours straight, resting only while in line.

“It gave me time to look around and see the park from an operational standpoint,” he said. “They are all so different. A park like Cedar Point, for instance, is a large chain operation, efficient and professional. A park like Waldameer is a small family operation, with a more personalized customer experience.”

He also acknowledged how one attraction can influence a park’s reputation.

“Look at the Ravine Flyer II; Waldameer totally reinvented itself with that coaster,” he said.

From his internship last summer in Virginia, where his most awesome memory is standing on the track of a mega-coaster and surveying the Busch Gardens landscape from 205 feet, to his pending stint in Orlando, Pudlick said he owes much to Mercyhurst.

“It’s the small school environment of Mercyhurst that I’ve found most valuable,” he said, emphasizing the small class size and faculty-student relationships that have enabled him to grow as a person.

“I give a lot of credit to Meghan Corbin (communication faculty). She has pushed me beyond just being educated toward the practical aspect of finding a career that makes me happy.”
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