Erik H. Beard is a managing member and general counsel of International Ride Training where he oversees the company’s legal needs and also supports its amusement ride safety training, certification, auditing and accessibility programs including the International Ride Operator Certification program, the world’s only third-party certification of safety, efficiency, and professionalism for amusement ride operators. He has worked in the amusement industry for over twenty-five years. Erik began his career in 1992 working in ride operations for Cedar Fair Entertainment Company at Cedar Point and Worlds of Fun, where he spent six years as Manager of Ride Operations and Park Services. Erik also worked on the pre- opening operations team at Universal’s Islands of Adventure where he had direct responsibility for development of operating procedures for the Lost Continent and Jurassic Park islands and guided numerous attractions through construction, commissioning, and pre-opening training and testing.
After spending ten years in ride operations at the park level, Erik spent the next fifteen years serving the industry in a legal capacity. As a practicing attorney with two of the most sophisticated and well-regarded firms in the Northeast United States, Erik’s practice focused on product liability, amusement / leisure counseling and litigation, and general business litigation. He has represented and advised amusement parks, aquatic facilities, trade associations, and industry suppliers with respect to the Americans With Disabilities Act, amusement ride and aquatic safety matters, drowning investigation, operational best practices, and in amusement industry legislative and regulatory matters before the Connecticut Department of Public Safety and the Kansas Department of Labor.
Erik is a nationally recognized authority on the application of the Americans With Disabilities Act to the amusement park industry and is the creator of “ADA FAQ,” the nation’s only ADA compliance training program specifically devoted to increasing accessibility and accommodation of guests with disabilities at amusement parks and attractions by training front-line ride operators, lifeguards, and other park employees in the complexities of the ADA as applied to their unique business. Erik is a frequent speaker at amusement industry events and trade shows such as the IAAPA Expo, IAAPA Asia Expo, IAAPA Operators Forum, the World Waterpark Association trade show, the Ellis & Associates International Aquatic Safety School, and the International Ride Operator Safety School, among others. He serves on the Board of Directors of the New England Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions and on the North American Government Relations Sub-Committee of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. Erik has published numerous articles and is quoted frequently on amusement industry safety, accessibility, and legal issues in such publications as the American Bar Association Franchise Law Journal, the George Mason University Civil Rights Law Journal, Funworld Magazine, Amusement Today, InPark Magazine, and Resort & Recreation Magazine. Erik also independently authors The Legal Roller Coaster, a blog specifically devoted to legal issues affecting the amusement and tourism industries (www.legalrollercoaster.com).
Erik graduated from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. with a Bachelor of Arts in 1995 and obtained his juris doctor, magna cum laude, from George Mason University School of Law in Arlington, Virginia in 2005. He currently resides in Avon, Connecticut.