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Summertime, and the livin’ is easy. OR is it? Can GCs, notoriously hardworking, type A’s, actually relax when summer rolls around? We decided to ask general counsel at companies that operate some of the country’s biggest theme parks about their vacation plans. After all, the sole product of their businesses is a good time. If these lawyers can’t turn off their cell phones and unwind with the kids on gravity-defying rides, then who can? Not surprisingly, we found that these GCs often spend summer vacations at their companies’ parks. They feast on funnel cake, watch fireworks, and � usually � wait in line for the rides just like the rest of us. These chief legal officers don’t leave business totally behind. They report that summer trips often include “checking out the competition.” Is the second inverted loop of a rival’s roller coaster as scary as the first? And how do the hot dogs compare? Sounds like our kind of due diligence. Michael Bartok Executive Vice President, Business Affairs, Paramount Parks, Inc. The Charlotte, North Carolina�based company, a subsidiary of media giant Viacom Inc., owns five amusement parks in the United States and Canada. Bartok oversees a three-person legal department. Do you take a summer vacation? Yes, I do. I usually go to theme parks with my family. We like to check out a new city or country and visit the theme parks there. What was your first theme park experience? As a kid I went to the rides at the local traveling carnivals. Now when we go there as a family, my 7-year-old makes me go on the spinning-cup ride. What is your favorite theme park snack? The essential theme park snack is funnel cake. It has no redeeming health qualities, and that’s what makes it so good. What’s the best time of day to go to a theme park? I like going at night and being there until closing, when the fireworks go off. Do you test out the new rides? Standard policy is lawyers first and then sandbags, because we don’t want to lose any valuable sandbags [laughs].
Janice Miller Vice President, Legal and Business, Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal CityWalk Hollywood, both divisions of Vivendi Universal Entertainment, which operates movie-themed amusement parks around the world. The Hollywood and Orlando parks include CityWalks, entertainment centers that offer restaurants, shopping, and theaters. Miller, who works in Universal City, California, is the only attorney in her business unit. Do you take a summer vacation? This summer I’ll take off a series of Fridays to go on day trips with my family. Last summer I took a busman’s holiday. I was on vacation but also checked out the competition. What was your first theme park experience? I’m from Philadelphia � so Hershey Park and Great Adventure. What’s your favorite theme park? Universal Studios Hollywood, of course. Do your children [ages 3 and 5] have a favorite ride? They like to come into the park and see our strolling characters, as opposed to riding the rides. They’re short, and the rides have height restrictions. Do you get to cut the lines? That’s private information [laughs].
James Coughlin General Counsel, Six Flags, Inc. Oklahoma City�based Six Flags is the world’s second-largest amusement park operator, with 39 parks in Europe and North America. Coughlin oversees two paralegals in New York. What’s your most memorable theme park experience? The first time I rode a roller coaster was when I was in college, at Nantasket Beach [in Massachusetts], where there was a wooden roller coaster that [Six Flags] now owns. I only went on it because I was shamed by peer pressure. What rides do your children enjoy? My daughters [ages 14 and 11] are thrill-seekers, so they like the biggest, fastest rides they can find. Do you get to cut lines? We have a thing called Fast Pass that I buy for my family. We get a reserved time. So, no, I try not to cut the lines. Have you had any bad theme park experiences? When I was a kid I went on the Ferris wheel at one of those traveling carnivals. The person who was operating it left me up on top for what seemed like forever. I haven’t been on a Ferris wheel since.

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