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Undercover Boss: Herschend Family Entertainment

March 28, 2010 08:13 PM by Nancy Floyd


Tonight on a brand new episode of Undercover Boss on CBS, the CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment goes undercover in his own company. Keep reading for more details about Joel Manby’s experience working on the front lines at his company’s amusement parks and aquariums…

On tonight’s episode of Undercover Boss, Joel Manby, the CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment goes undercover in his own company to see what life is like for his blue collar employee. Herschend Family Entertainment is a $300 million company that manages 22 properties that include amusement parks and aquariums around the country. Unlike some of the previous tools that have been featured on Undercover Boss, Joel actually strikes me as a decent, stand-up guy who started with nothing and worked hard for success. Despite an admitted alcohol problem in his past, Joel is a family-centered guy with strong values.

Joel’s first job on Undercover Boss is at Stone Mountain Park in Georgia. He’ll be working with Captain Howard (aka “Tiny”) for the Ride-The-Duck attraction, a land-to-water vehicle that offers tours for kids. Captain Howard is basically a giant cartoon character. He’s upbeat, funny, and the kids love him! As Joel works alongside him, he’s amazed by Howard’s enthusiasm and zeal for life.


The next job Joel works as the Undercover Boss is at Silver Dollar City a theme park in Branson, Missouri. Joel will be working with Albert at the front gate. Since the park’s theme is the 1880s, Joel must don a Wild Wild West costume before facing the customers. His job is simple: scan tickets and welcome guests. He falters a bit at first but after a pep talk from Albert, Joel does great in the job. Next, it’s time to stock strollers at the front gate. Joel struggles a bit to keep up with Albert, a 20-year old kid who hopes to become the next CEO of the company.

On their afternoon break, Albert shares his aspirations with Joel which includes a desire to design attractions for the park. Conveniently, he’s got his computer handy and takes time to show Joel a few of the rides he’s created. Albert also opens up about the fact that he grew up poor and struggles to afford going to college. He’s worked at the park for six years (since he was 14) and his 40-hour work week doesn’t offer much flexibility for school.


The third job on tonight’s episode of Undercover Boss takes Joel back to Silver Dollar City to clean the park. Joel meets up with Richard to wash the streets of Silver Dollar City and it turns out, Joel’s not so great at handling the hoses. Joel and Richard bond over the fact that they’re both adoptive parents. Richard shares that he lost their house and belongings in a flood a few years back, which saddens Joel, especially since Herschend Family Entertainment offers assistance to families in need and Richard clearly hasn’t taken advantage of that.

Joel’s fourth job on Undercover Boss is in Missouri on the Showboat Branson Belle. He’s working with Jennifer as a server on the boat. After changing into his tux, Joel races after Jennifer, trying to serve food and drinks to the guests on the Branson Belle. Joel is impressed with Jennifer’s ability to be efficient and friendly at the same time. On their lunch break, Jennifer gets a call that her daughter is sick. This leads to a conversation with Joel about the struggles of being a single mom and working on the showboat. She wishes that Herschend Family Entertainment would offer childcare facilities for park employees since their hours are so unusual.

Joel’s final job as the Undercover Boss is at Adventure Aquarium in New Jersey. He’s working alongside Mercedes at the touch tank, an interactive aquarium attraction. After teaching kids about sea creatures, Joel and Mercedes leave the touch tank to start cleaning various tanks around the aquarium. Mercedes is a strict boss, questioning Joel’s previous cleaning experience. I’m guessing Joel has a maid, or a very helpful wife at the least, given his poor window washing abilities. As they work together, Joel learns a bit more about Mercedes, a single mom who works in virtually every department of the aquarium. Mercedes opens up that she and her son were homeless before getting her job at the aquarium. Joel is humbled and moved to tears at Mercedes’ story.

It’s time for Joel to reveal his true identity to the employees he worked with as the Undercover Boss. Before the big reveal, Joel meets with his executive board to discuss his experience. Among his chief concerns is the fact that struggling employees have failed to apply for financial assistance. He’s hoping his team will be able to assist in better marketing the program. He also wants to focus on providing better services for single parents in the company.

When Joel’s co-workers from earlier in the week come in for a meeting, everyone is shocked to learn that Joel is actually the CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment. After explaining his reasoning for doing Undercover Boss, Joel talks with each employee one by one. Captain Howard is first and Joel expresses how pleased he was with Howard’s performance as the Ride-The-Duck driver. Joel wants Howard to travel to other cities to train Ride-The-Duck employees in the new captains’ program. Not surprisingly, Howard is enthusiastic and upbeat about receiving the news!

Next, Joel meets with Jennifer, the single mom server from the showboat. He was impressed with Jennifer’s work ethic and inspired by her story to provide childcare assistance for single parent employees. Next up is Richard, the adoptive father who lost his home. Herschend Family Entertainment is granting Richard a $10,000 grant to repair his home, as well as allocating the work effort of the entire Silver Dollar City staff to work on renovations. Richard is overcome by emotion at the outpouring of generosity. During his meeting with Mercedes, Joel gives her an immediate raise and promises that Herschend will help provide furnishings for her new apartment. Lastly, Joel meets with Albert. Joel was inspired by Albert to start a college scholarship program. Albert will be the first recipient, receiving his full salary to go to college full-time. Albert is moved to tears and can’t wait to share the news with his parents.

After meeting with the employees, it’s time for the corporate-wide event. Joel addresses the entire company about his experience as the Undercover Boss. The requisite highlight reel plays before Joel acknowledges the hard work of his employees and expresses how he’s a changed man as a result of his experience.

Tune in to Undercover Boss next Sunday on CBS when the COO of Roto-Rooter goes undercover in his own company.

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Photos Courtesy of CBS

Topics: CBS Reality TV Shows, Undercover Boss |

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1 Comment »

One Response to “Undercover Boss: Herschend Family Entertainment”

  1. anitamorrison Says:
    March 28th, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    This episode with Joel Manby had me in tears. I wish every CEO of every company would go undercover to see what their employees do, to see what effects some management decisions have on their employees. It’s true that when the employees know that the “boss” is on site they act different. By going undercover the “bosses” see exactly what the poor employees have to deal with day in and day out. I have been unemployed for 9 months now. I so wish that I could find a career with a company that has a CEO as caring as Mr. Manby. It would make going to work each day an enjoyment. My hat’s off to you Mr. Manby. You are a very special boss.


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