20 Questions With Neal Thurman
President and General Manager Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and Adventure Island
Neal Thurman is dedicated to continuing a culture of excellent customer service, at both parks, with a focus on creating safe and memorable experiences for guests
He serves on the board for Visit Tampa Bay and the Tampa Bay Chamber, in addition to supporting the USF Muma College of Business Executive Advisory Council.
Thurman began his role at the SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment company in September 2020, after 25 years with Six Flags where he most recently served as park president of Six Flags Magic Mountain, Hurricane Harbor LA and Hurricane Harbor Phoenix.
Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Thurman began his career in ride operations at Six Flags Over Georgia.
1. College alma mater? Indiana University Southeast.
2. Last book you read? I am currently in the middle of Redemption by David Baldacci.
3. Last place you vacationed? Prior to joining SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment I took a week to drive across the country (not sure I would call it a vacation but it was a spectacular drive).
4. PC or Mac? Both, although I mostly use a PC.
5. Guilty-pleasure food? Sushi.
6. We’ll find you on the weekend doing? Working! I reserve Saturdays for time inside Busch Gardens and Adventure Island visiting with guests and ambassadors.
7. Biggest fear? There are a few things that keep me up at night, but that’s a story for another time.
8. Proudest moment? Taking my first solo flight as a pilot.
9. Dream dinner companion? Too many to decide. My list would include several presidents, good friends and family members, who are no longer with us, and icons of the theme park industry.
10. Any pets? I have a lab named Bailey that I rescued on Christmas Day of 2019. She made the drive with me across the country in early September.
11. Who did you last text? Several of the vice presidents at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.
12. What is your cellphone wallpaper image? A picture of my nephew, and I, walking together in a theme park.
13. What do you listen to in the car? News or an audiobook.
14. What is your go-to drink order? I typically stick with water.
15. Favorite candy? M&M’s.
16. Do you suffer from Primenesia (the act of ordering from Amazon and forgetting about it.)?
No, I order what I need and track it closely.
17. Pool or beach? Pool, but to be fair Tampa is as close to the beach as I have ever lived so we will have to see what happens.
18. Charity you support? Boys and Girls Club has been among my favorite charities to support.
19. Favorite childhood memory? Building a haunted house each October in the basement of our family home in Atlanta. Little did I know it would be good practice for Howl-O-Scream.
20. Words of advice? When deciding on a career, find something you love to do and every day will be an adventure.