From grounds sweeper to general manager, Valleyfair's new boss is ready for opening day

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From sweeping the grounds as a teenager at his hometown amusement park in Southern California to Vice President and GM of Valleyfair in Shakopee, Raul Rehnborg has been on one heck of a ride.

“It was just supposed to be a summer job and here I am 32 years later,” Rehnborg said. “Still having a fun time.”

Rehnborg is the man calling the shots at Valleyfair, which draws more than 1 million visitors annually.

This weekend, the curtain comes up on the 2019 season. It’s the first opener for Rehnberg after transferring within his company from California’s Great America.

Rehnberg says he came to Minnesota to turn Valleyfair into a “more immersive” amusement park with new stages, new food and new experiences, including this year’s Peanuts celebration.

That’ll be held every June weekend with Snoopie, Charlie Brown and the whole gang.

“My goal is to position Valleyfair as a family tradition,” he said. “Traditions are big in Minnesota. I want people to think about having 1, 2, or 3 days in summer to make a difference and spend time with their families and create memories.”

One area of emphasis for Rehnberg is safety and security, especially after fights broke out on the grounds one night last fall that required police intervention.

“Our program is constantly evolving,” he said. “There are so many different layers of safety and security that are in some cases visible to the guests. Other times, it’s not visible. And so, that is a constantly evolving and enhancing process.”

Valleyfair first opened its doors back in 1976 and Rehnberg insists his team of employees that will peak at more than 2,200 this summer is ready for a season filled with fun and entertainment, even if opening night still makes him nervous.

“I’ve been in the business for 32 years and I still get excitement and butterflies the first time we open that gate,” he said.