A sure sign of summer is the opening of Kings Island on April 18. But bringing the Midwest’s largest amusement and water park back to life is no simple task. Besides getting the more than 100 rides and other attractions ready for park visitors, there’s the task of hiring about 4,000 seasonal workers.

The man overseeing the park’s reawakening is Greg Scheid, vice president and general manager since 2006.

You’ve been at Kings Island for nine years, what is it like reopening the park after the long winter?

I’ve told many of my managers: if you don’t have goose bumps on Opening Day, you’re in the wrong business. You hear baseball players talk about Opening Day and how special it is. It’s the same in the theme park business.

How did you get into the theme park business?

I grew up in Sandusky, Ohio, where Cedar Point is located. I started working there when I was 15 and between Cedar Point, Kings Island and Dorney Park, Allentown Pa., I’ve spent 30-plus years in the industry.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Watching the guests enter the park in the morning with a smile on their face and watching them go home at night tired but happy and content. You know you’ve done your job.

You’re introducing two new rides, this year: Woodstock Gliders, similar to the classic Flying Eagles, and Snoopy Space Buggies, a family ride. What prompted the introduction of those rides?

We introduced the Banshee roller coaster last year. It’s critical in our business that we don’t always focus on the thrill rider. We’re absolutely trying to strike a balance with thrill riders and families. We’re trying to get the young children with the Space Buggies and they can also ride the Gliders with their family. We’re in the memory-making business, and that’s important.

What other new things can park goers expect this year?

The biggest change they’re going to see is on International Street where we’re redoing four of our resale locations. One will be the largest Starbucks in the country with seating for 140 inside. Then we’re doing a fudge and candy store where visitors can watch candy apples get dipped and fudge being made. It will be more of a spectator experience. We’ve also added a new funnel cake location that you pick your own toppings, strawberries, blueberries, whipped cream or whatever. We’ve also added a new make-your-own yogurt store.

Before the park can open you have to hire about 4,000 seasonal workers in a matter of a few weeks; is that a daunting task?

When it comes to staffing, about 40 to 50 percent of our season associates return each year. So despite the fact we may hire 4,000 associates, about 2,000 are returning employees from previous years. That base of experience is critical in our business.

In late February we were very involved in going to high schools, colleges and technical schools looking for job specific experience, maybe in the IT world or even as a cook. At the end of March we start bringing them in for training, and hopefully come April, they’ll be ready to roll. We have it down to a science, but the economics change every year. That is what is challenging. When the economy is really strong, we find less and less applications out there for hire, and right now we’re starting to see that trend.