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  • Writer's pictureSteve Baker

How to Choose the Best Theme Park Designer: A Comprehensive Guide

Updated: Jan 19

Theme parks are unique in the architectural world. Not only are they one of the few places that elicit a child-like sense of wonder and amazement, but they also have unique design needs to achieve that effect and remain functional.

When you’re looking to open or renovate a theme park, one of the most defining decisions that will determine whether or not it’s a success will be the theme park designer you choose to work with.

Today, we’re going to go over essential factors you need to consider when choosing the best theme park designer for your project.

Why is Your Theme Park Designer Such an Important Choice?

The idea is that any designer with a good reputation is the right designer for your theme park. Even if there are plenty of glowing reviews and a mind-blowing portfolio making them look like the perfect choice, that’s an overly simplified way to look at it.

Theme parks are very unique architecturally. Unlike a home, office building, or elaborate center, a theme park tends to step outside of structural and design standards into a space where anything is possible. Whether the theme is a dinosaur park reminiscent of old 90s movies, a space-age theme park full of exciting rides, or a brand-specific park meant to engage visitors meaningfully while building brand recognition, much of a theme park’s design isn’t seen anywhere else.

To get the results you’re looking for, you not only need a designer with all the basic qualifications one expects from a specialty service, but you also need one who can see your vision and help bring it to life in a way that creates the atmosphere you need while remaining functional.

If you don’t spend time and energy looking for a designer who can do that, your project is at risk. Considering the most important aspect of a theme park is that it provides a coherent, awe-inspiring, experience, any sort of creative or functionality-based conflict can leave it falling flat.

Key Aspects to Look for in a Theme Park Designer

Now that we’ve looked at the perspective you need to have while choosing a designer, it’s time to look at the various factors you need to consider. Some are the basic traits you should look for in any specialty service, and some are specifically geared toward the success of a theme park.

Finding the right mix of both is crucial to your success.

1: Experience with Theme Parks Specifically

First and foremost, you want to find a designer who has worked specifically with theme parks. There can be other types of establishments in their portfolio, but theme parks are so unique that prior experience is a must-have qualification.

Formal and hands-on experience designing theme parks from the ground up, with examples of what they can do for you, should be your first priority. You’ll find that many of the other factors we mention will more or less come naturally for any service that does have experience.

2: A Connection with Your Vision

When you open a theme park or go to renovate one, you have a vision. There’s a certain atmosphere you want to create, a design theme you want to pop out immediately, and otherwise, an identity you want the park to have that sets it apart from other options.

The best way to get that is to work with a designer who understands your vision and supports it.

How to Choose the Best Theme Park Designer: The Designer Must Understand Your Vision

The designer should be able to understand what you’re trying to achieve, and they should be putting their best foot forward to help you accomplish that from a supportive role. After all, they’re helping you build something you have the original idea for.

Spend time consulting with a designer before committing, and look for enthusiasm, an understanding of your ideas, and an overall desire to assist you rather than control the project for streamlined results.

Of course, the designer will provide feedback, use their experience to warn you of problem areas in your design, and make suggestions for a better result, but it should be more like having a dear friend help you than a boss telling you what to do.

3: Budget Conscious

Theme parks are expensive. Whether you’re starting from scratch, or you have a solid foundation to build upon, it’s not going to be a cheap project.

Thus, you need to work with a designer who is budget-conscious.

This means that your designer should be able to look at your ideas, prioritize where the majority of the budget is going to go for a meaningful effect and functionality, and then find areas where it’s safe to choose cost-effective options without sacrificing functionality or quality.

There are many ways of doing this. From choosing alternative materials for non-priority details such as interior claddings or signage, creating a layout that maximizes effect while minimizing resource usage, etc.

Of course, the bigger your budget, the more that can be done. The opposite is also true. You can’t expect the designer to squeeze blood from a stone and give you everything for nothing. However, as long as your budget is reasonable, a good designer can provide results while staying within budget.

4: An Understanding of Theme Park Concepts

A theme park typically doesn’t just have the same general concept in every little area. Instead, it’s one overarching concept separated into smaller sub-concepts that all create a varied and unique experience.

A good example of this would be a zoo. The overall theme is a place to come see animals and enjoy food and drinks with your family, but it’s not just randomly tossed together. It’s organized with water attractions in one location, animals native to one continent in one area with others in their own areas, and various dining options that all incorporate their own theme relative to what part of the park they’re in.

This is key to creating a coherent experience that makes the visitor feel like they’re experiencing several different experiences rather than just going to one big, disorganized, mess that’s hard to navigate.

The same is applicable to a theme park, and a good designer understands that core design principle.

How to Choose the Best Theme Park Designer: The Designer Must Understand Theme Park Concepts

5: Experience and Long-Term Viability Minded

Another thing to look for in a theme park designer is that they can perfectly balance the guest experience against the long-term viability of the park.

When a guest goes to your theme park, they want to be left in awe. They want to experience things they can’t experience anywhere else while feeling like they’re in an entirely different world. Nothing can drag them out of that experience, or it’s to the detriment of the park as a whole.

However, long-term viability is also a concern.

If a designer purely focuses on taking the park to the limit, it can be too costly upfront, or its long-term viability can be lackluster. Leaving you with an amazing theme park that simply can’t stay open or continue to be maintained over the years.

Long-term viability is determined by a number of factors. From the materials the designer wants to use in any given place, to the way attractions are laid out and sales are encouraged.

The role of the designer goes far beyond making something that’s awe-inspiring. It also deals with the functionality of the park as a whole.

6: Basic Qualifications and Reputation

Of course, all of those specialized requirements are things you must look for, but you mustn’t forget the basic requirements that you look for in any other type of specialty service.

This factor includes two things. First, the professional requirements, and then the designer’s reputation.

Per usual, you should look for all the relevant licenses and formal training requirements to be met for a designer. Anyone can draw up a theme park or learn to use software, but formal training ensures that the designer can see things from a functional standpoint and build a high-quality park.

Access to advanced design tools is also crucial. The modern design world has stepped away from drawing 2D blueprints on graph paper. The use of highly advanced software is often used to create 3D models of designs before any commitments are made, and laser technology has made scanning the soon-to-be theme park area for exact layout measurements and post-scan manipulation to be done within millimeters of precision. In essence, access to this technology allows your designer to create an exact layout plan for your theme park and remove all worries of potential problems.

Finally, you always want to work with a good company that is known for providing results. So, a good reputation with plenty of social proof is crucial. This will give you confidence in their abilities, and you’ll see that the entire process goes a lot more smoothly.

Design Your Theme Park with Baker Studios

The project you’re planning is important, and its success is crucial given the time, energy, and resources you’re putting into it. Choosing the best theme park designer is the first step in the process and you need one who meets every part of the checklist we made above, and that’s Baker Studios.

Our team of professionals utilizes the most advanced equipment to evolve your theme park from a mere idea to a comprehensive concept design and beyond, ensuring long-term viability and cost-efficiency, complemented by services like exterior foam molding, foam sculptures, and 3D modeling as needed.

Contact us today!

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