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New GM for theme park

Richmond Times Dispatch

Original Article »

June 30, 2007

Pat Jones began working as a game attendant at Kings Dominion during the summer of 1979.

"I sold balls, hoops and rings so people could play the games," she said. "I had put my application in to work on the rides. That was supposed to be the department everyone wanted to be in."

Jones, 45, stuck with her job, rising through the ranks of the northern Hanover County theme park and in other corporate positions during the past 28 years.

This week, she was promoted to Kings Dominion's vice president and general manager. She is the fifth general manager in the park's 32 years.

"I am proud as can be," said Jones, who graduated from Petersburg High School in 1980.

"To have started out as a high school summer job to earn a little money and to end up making it a career and . . . to know that I will be in charge of a multimillion-dollar business, that's pretty impressive in my book," she said. "Being the general manager was the furthest thing from my mind."

She replaces Richard A. Zimmerman, who was promoted to regional vice president of Cedar Fair Entertainment Co., the Ohio-based company that bought the five Paramount Parks businesses a year ago.

In his new role, Zimmerman will oversee five of Cedar Fair's 12 amusement parks, including Kings Dominion, and three of its five water parks. His office remains here.

"I am excited about the challenges of being part of a highly successful organization and . . . of the next chapter in the Kings Dominion story," he said.

Zimmerman has worked with Jones since 1993, first when they were at Carowinds park near Charlotte, N.C., and then later at Kings Dominion.

"She's done an outstanding job," Zimmerman said. "She understands what to do to keep this business vibrant and successful."

Wilson H. Flohr Jr., the park's general manager from 1984 until late 1998, agrees.

During part of Jones' tenure overseeing food, beverage and merchandise sales at Kings Dominion, her department generated the highest spending per visitor among any of the parks in its group, Flohr said.

"She was widely credited with coming up with a lot of innovations," said Flohr, now the president and chief executive of Richmond Region 2007, the nonprofit group overseeing events celebrating Richmond's 400th anniversary.

"It demonstrates her ability. She clearly was a rising star early on," he said.

After a couple of summers at Kings Dominion, she was promoted to a full-time games department manager in 1983.

She became vice president of resale, the department that oversees food, beverages and merchandise sales, at Carowinds in 1994. She returned to Kings Dominion two years later as its resale vice president.

In 2004, she became senior vice president of resale for Paramount Parks, which owned the five amusement parks including Carowinds and Kings Island in Ohio.

She returned to Kings Dominion in 2006 after the parks were sold as director of resale.

"She understands how to run the park and she understands consumers tastes in what they want when they get to the park," Flohr said.

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