Our Approach to Master Planning

Master Planning is the art of defining and organizing the environment of a site, building a flawless union between story and setting. It’s the backbone of any project — planners articulate how guests will functionally move through a physical space, taking into account design and operational parameters and using storytelling as the lifeblood of the guest journey.

At Thinkwell, the core philosophy of the Planning Department is to create functional, innovative, and flexible resources — in collaboration with the design team — that clearly express the development and foundation of the guest experience.

We categorize projects into one of three groups: Land Use Planning, Site Master Planning, and Attraction Planning. Regardless of the scale of the project, Thinkwell’s approach always focuses on the idea that all projects have a story to tell, and solutions are reached by examining each step of the design process in the guest’s experience for that site.


Our master planning capabilities span across multiple industries. We partner with our clients to lead complex projects and produce spectacular and immersive experiences in locations all over the globe, and that all begins with the right master plan.

Theme Park Master Planning

Attraction Master Planning

Master Planning for Museums & Cultural Experiences

Master Planning for Retail, Dining, & Entertainment 


What is the purpose of Master Planning?
The goal of the planner is to help define and support the project’s placemaking and storytelling, while creating a successful framework and physical organization for the site.

What is Land Use Planning?
This is the largest type of planning project. The Land Use Planning scale can vary greatly (from hundreds of hectares down to 500 acres), but the key focus here is finding, defining, and positioning the program mix onto a site, while also organizing the functions of the spaces.

While the built environment is addressed, the main focus is on programming and function, which creates the foundation for future designs on the property. At this scale, development calculations such as site coverage, program densities, and open space requirements are determined and set, while addressing how the application of these factors will influence and impact the guest experience.

What is Site Master Planning?
This scale of work for Site Master Planning can be as large as 500 acres or as small as 5 acres, covering projects like theme parks and mixed use developments. The defining factor at this scale is determining how the program and story are applied to the site.

The department enjoys working at this scale and building the sense of place within a site, in conjunction with the project’s Creative Director and Art Director, to lay out the first impression of what the guest path could be before adding in any operational and programming constraints. In this type of project, the planner takes into consideration throughput and capacity logistics of a space, while also maintaining the proportions and sightlines that reinforce the design intent, story and experience.

What is Attraction Planning?
Attraction Planning includes projects like museums, brand experiences, and family entertainment centers. These spaces tend to be indoor with more controlled attendance projections.

Thinkwell’s Planning team excels at this scale, as it requires close collaboration with the design team in conjunction with statistical analysis of how the spaces should be sized based on the desired guest experience, attendance models, and instantaneous capacity.

What makes Thinkwell Master Planning different?
Utilizing our unique approach of Content Master Planning™ and Environmental Storytelling™, Thinkwell planners develop the story from the moment guests step onto the property and create the structure for a comfortable, memorable experience they’ll want to return to again and again.