John Wardley

Ride Consultant

What I do

I’m a ride consultant for some of the biggest theme parks in the UK. I have designed some of the world’s most famous roller coasters, including Nemesis and Oblivion. This is a very exciting time for me because I am working on a new roller coaster, which will open at Alton Towers Resort in May. 

How I got my job

I actually started out working as a special effects man on the James Bond films. It was a bit of a dream job and it taught me everything I know about entertaining people. I also worked in television and live entertainment, including constructing and performing stage illusions. I helped Madame Tussauds develop animated figures. After that, theme park attractions, for example working at Chessington World of Adventures, and roller coasters just seemed like a new challenge.

What I love about my job

Every day is completely different when you are a ride consultant. One day my head will be filled with big ideas and pencil drawings and the next day I will be testing out multi-million-pound roller coasters. I also get to meet lots of interesting people. Recently I worked with Jeremy Webb, the editor of New Scientist magazine on a scientific investigation into the science of thrill. I learned an awful lot about why people find roller coasters so exciting and made a new friend too. 

What’s difficult about my job

Designing rides is a very serious business. It takes a lot of hard work to make sure that the rides are completely safe for everyone to enjoy. It requires a lot of restraint, dedication and self-discipline. I have to spend a lot of time doing calculations, preparing budgets, solving problems and attending serious planning meetings. The meetings are important but they are not quite as fun as testing the rides once they are finished.

Where to start

There are lots of different ways to go about getting a job as a ride consultant. You could take the artistic route and get some experience in theatre or television before coming to work in the art department of a theme park, like me. Or, if you study hard at a subject like engineering then you could get a job with one of the main ride manufacturers. Maybe start by getting a job as a ride operator at a theme park. It takes a lot of hard work but there is a lot of fun to be had.