Theme Park Master Planning

Master planning for a theme park involves many elements of the theme park master plan effort. Land use planning, infrastructure development, site development (grading, etc.), traffic and circulation are all traditional components of theme park master planning. Specific to theme parks, theme park master planning includes program development to determine a projection of how many people will visit the park per year, during the peak month and peak day, and how many people will be instantaneously in the park on that peak day. Those projections are done in conjunction with operational consultants, economic feasibility consultants, architects, park planners and the creative team. On top of all that, the theme park master plan includes a matrix of attractions that comprise the total ride, show and attraction mix for the park. There are expansion zones for future development. There is facility programming that informs how many restrooms, ticket windows, retail venues and food and beverage outlets will need
to be built in order to provide adequate services for all those visitors. These elements make up the traditional theme park master plan.

Thinkwell provides theme park master planning, integrated resort master planning, master planning for mixed-use projects and other types of projects that include location-based entertainment and/or education components. To be specific, Thinkwell goes beyond traditional theme park master planning and includes a new set of disciplines Thinkwell finds lacking elsewhere in the
development of theme park master plans. Thinkwell includes in our theme park master planning efforts what we call Content Master Planning and Guest Experience Master Planning.

Content Master Planning is a new way to look at traditional theme park planning. Content Master Planning look at not only the physical layout and programmatic aspects of a project, but also takes into consideration and pays particular attention to how that experience unfolds for a guest from the moment they pass through the project threshold until they complete their experience. Content Master Planning considers how the physical environment helps convey the story being told to the guests and how each element of the Experience Design – attractions, live shows, rides as well as food & beverage and retail – integrate
into that storytelling and how the experience and story unfolds for a guest as they move from place to place within a project.

Much more than the mere placement of buildings, uses and guest flow, Content Master Planning and Guest Experience Master Planning takes all elements of the guest’s experience into consideration and looks at how each of these elements symbiotically relate to one another for the purposes of storytelling. It’s part of Thinkwell’s Environmental Storytelling® approach. It becomes a richer, more textured and meaningful experience for the guest when projects are approached and developed in this manner.

Thinkwell works with traditional architectural firms on the details: land-use planning, infrastructure development, traffic and circulation, etc. And Thinkwell works with economic feasibility and operations firms & consultants as a team to formulate a program and operational and business philosophies. Thinkwell’s approach leads us to unique creative solutions and business
solutions as well. By considering how the guest’s experience unfolds as well as the strategic and business goals of our clients, we problem solve new ways to deal with traditional businesses, new ways of exploring guest experience that offers new possibilities, new ways to connect with audiences and new competitively advantageous project approaches.

The holistic nature of the theme park master plan – every aspect of the project can affect the next – is complex. These complexities are only exacerbated by the additional rigors of Environmental Storytelling, Guest Experience Master Planning and Content Master Planning. Layering each of those planning elements onto the theme park master planning process ensures additional effort, creative visioning, planning and thought go into each design. This is why Thinkwell’s theme park master plans are a dramatic improvement over many other’s theme park master plans. Very few projects in the world can boast they deliver Environmental Storytelling with Content Master Planning and the added richness and fullness of experience Guest Experience Master Planning brings to the project.

Here’s a simple example: A guest walks into a land of Park A. Ahead is a dark ride, themed as a haunted house. The exterior of the ride projects the theme outward with precariously hanging shutters, broken windows and chipped paint. It may be Victorian in setting. Adjacent to the haunted house the guest visiting Park A finds a hamburger stand, also Victorian in theming. Further
away, a retail outlet sells t-shirts emblazoned with Park A’s logo and the park’s mascot.

Park B, developed by Thinkwell utilizing their proprietary planning disciplines of Content Master Planning, Environmental Storytelling and Guest Experience Master Planning offers similar components but in an entirely unique context: As the guest walks into the land of Park B, each element presented before the guest reinforces the next. The architecture, interior design and propping actually work to subliminally tell the fictional backstory of the zone, supporting the theme and storytelling found within the haunted dark ride. The lands themselves speak volumes to the guest: each area offers visual clues about the background context for the environment, while character graphics, signage, audio and performers enhance the storytelling. From one linear meter into the land to the next, each element of what the guest sees, hears and feels tells them more about the story
unfolding in front of them. Yes, this takes more work. More planning. More design. More forethought in the development of the park. But these theme park master planning disciplines and techniques are what set apart the run-of-the-mill
from the world class.

Theme park master planning is part science, part art. When all the elements of the development, from the planning principals to the artistic are considered – while keeping of paramount importance every aspect of the development from the perspective of the guest – the project comes together in a harmonious, symbiotic way that is artful, meaningful and impactful.

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