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  • Writer's pictureSteve Baker

How is a Theme Park Designed? (The Ultimate Guide)

Theme parks are a part of all of our fondest memories. From visiting the grandest theme parks in the world on family vacations, to simply enjoying smaller local-themed environments, we can all look back at a fond memory of a magical world. 


How is a theme park designed, though? 


Today, we’re going to walk through the design process for a theme park to give you a better understanding of what all goes into it or even help you organize your theme park construction project. 


Let’s get started.


1: The Pre-Design Phase


We’ll start this theme park design guide with the pre-design phase.


Every big project, whether it’s a themed environment to enchant the minds of children or the latest skyscraper to facilitate the highest-value business deals in the world, starts with an idea. That idea first starts being put into action during the pre-design phase. 


The pre-design phase is when the soon-to-be developer or developers sit down and start figuring out the finer details of the project


It includes a variety of early steps such as: 


  • Coming up with a rough idea for the theme park and desired key features.

  • Defining the goal of the park.

  • Considering how much land there is to work with or acquire land to build on.

  • Determining the feasibility of the park from a financial standpoint.

  • Identifying competition and potential pitfalls.

  • Determining a budget and figuring out where the money will come from. 


All of these things will at least start taking shape during the pre-design phase before any help with designing or building things comes into play.


2: Rough Layouts


This starts in the pre-design phase, but it needs to be fleshed out more before being brought to professionals.


The development team will use this part of the design phase to start coming up with key feature ideas, creating a layout for the park that makes the best use of the available land, creating lists of features they want, and then determining what’s truly essential to the park, and generally trying to build the park’s theme.

Theme park designer working on a project.

If an investor is already on board for the project, funds might be allocated to hire the best theme park designers and architects as the general idea starts to take shape in a meaningful way.


However, even if it’s still too early and funding is being secured, having the dream drawn out on paper with plenty of proof of concept documentation will help the project move forward


3: Designing with Professionals: Optimizing the Idea


As the business side of things starts to develop, and the idea of the developers is defined appropriately, designers and architects will become necessary


While developers who are passionate about the project will have lots of ideas of what they want, it truly takes a professional level of expertise to take that idea and turn it into something that works. 


With an idea of what the developers want, designers can work closely with the developers to implement a large number of design strategies that will not only make the park more optimized from a design perspective but also from a business perspective


A big part of this comes down to optimizing the layout to allow guests to move freely, but to also guide them through the experience in a way that maximizes their engagement with the park.


This typically revolves around a key feature or group of features with smaller features being used as lead-ups to those key features.


During this process, everything from the locations of entrances and exits, the positioning of each feature, the distances between features, to how different types of features are grouped, can be optimized.


4: Mock-ups and Professional Designs


With a more functional idea of how the park will eventually be created, the design team can start making mock-ups. Modern design teams leverage technology to scan the space you’re building in and create 1:1 virtual mock-ups of every feature


During this phase, the entire park is essentially brought to life in a virtual environment, and developers can see exactly how their dream will eventually look when it’s built, but that’s not the best part. 


Thanks to modern technology and the prowess of design experts, designers can work directly with developers to change things on the fly in real-time.


Whether that’s trying different color palettes, changing lighting, or completely overhauling the park design to make something entirely different, it can be done in a flash right before the developer’s eyes. 


This part of the design phase makes up much of the process. It’s when refining the design to a finished state takes place, and most decisions are solidified before any sort of material purchases or construction processes start.


One of the most beneficial parts of this advancement in design is that, since it’s incredibly accurate to real life, it will have the largest impact on the construction process.


From seeing how different materials will impact the park’s function and appearance, to understanding exactly how much material is required to finish the project without large amounts of waste, this has become a crucial part of building themed environments and theme parks.


5: Approving the Design, Starting Construction, and Making Tweaks


This is the end of the design process and the last step in our theme park design guide. Once the developers and designers find a design that both meets the developer’s vision and will function properly, it’s time to start bringing it all to life.

Finished theme park design.

Once construction starts, the design phase is largely over, and the bulk of the work is handed off to professionals in the architectural and construction fields. However, designers still work closely with all parties involved.


From ensuring that the other professional teams are handling the project according to the design, to helping the developers gauge project progress or even make tweaks to the design if needed.


Where to Get Help Designing Themed Environments and Theme Parks


Now that you understand how a theme park is designed it’s time to find a reliable partner that will bring your vision to life.


Whether you have your idea defined or are in the earliest phases of the project, Baker Studios can help. 


At Baker Studios, we have professional theme park designers and architects leveraging the latest cutting-edge design technology to help bring your dream to life. 


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