Guests at Toverland in the Netherlands might never meet Tessa Maessen but her influence is all over the park.
As the manager of entertainment, Maessen coordinates shows and special events. It’s a multi-faceted role with responsibilities ranging from developing a long-term strategic plan for in-park entertainment to selecting music for the shows.
“In my job there is a lot of room for creativity,” Maessen says. “For new shows, we can think of new storylines and for the events we can decide about everything from theme [and] decoration to music [and] characters.”
Although Maessen accepted the position in 2013, she has a long history with Toverland. She visited the park when it opened in 2001 and went on to become a seasonal worker in her teens; while she pursued a degree in leisure management from Breda University of Applied Sciences, she had internships in the marketing department at Toverland and the entertainment department of Europa-Park.
“I knew instantly this was the environment in which I wanted to work,” she says.
Toverland, which translates to Magic Land, is designed to be magical – and Maessen understands that entertainment is central to the visitor experience. In a park that welcomes 621,000 visitors every year, providing novel and engaging entertainment is not an easy task.
“Every year we get more events and bigger shows in the park and the expectations of the guests are also getting higher,” Maessen explains. “Our biggest challenge is to fulfill or even surpass the expectations of the guests.”
In 2014, Toverland introduced a high diving show called Legend of the Pearl. Maessen helped with the script and chose the music. The show took months of planning and rehearsals; seeing the reactions from guests when it debuted was one of the highlights of Maessen’s job.
“It is very rewarding when the premiere is finally there and everything works out as planned and everyone is happy about the result,” she says.
One of Maessen’s most important roles is developing the short-and long-term entertainment plans for the Toverland. Getting involved with IAAPA has helped her learn about successful strategies employed at other parks and encouraged her to pursue recognition for the entertainment at Toverland. Last year, she entered their park show De Toverzolder (The Magic Attic) in the competition for the Brass Ring Awards. The show didn’t win but Maessen is determined to add “award winning show producer” to her resume in the near future. In the meantime, she plans to network with other entertainment managers at the Euro Attractions Show in Amsterdam and has the IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando on her bucket list.
“By organizing workshops, park visits, safety seminars [and other professional development opportunities], IAAPA lifts the industry to a higher level,” she says.
Maessen plans to devote her career to achieving similar standards in theme park entertainment.
“I have worked in the amusement industry for 11 years now and I plan to work in this industry for at least 11 more years,” she says. “I can’t imagine a happier environment to work in than the environment of a theme park.”