10 Principles of Theme Park Design

I recently came across the ten principles of good design, with respect to minimalism. Former German Architect Dieter Rams formulated his ten design principles when he asked himself if his design was ‘good’ and meaningful or was it merely adding to the overall failed designed and built solutions. Dieter answered his own question by creating his ten principles for good (minimalist) design; principles focusing on the essential characteristics for minimalist design solutions where “less, but better” prevails.

Dieter’s ten principles sparked my own search and internal hypothesizing of the principles of good theme park design. I asked myself, what are the essential ingredients of themed design theme park Architects, designers, and engineers use to makes ‘good’ thematic design solutions? After researching this topic, I found little meaningful insight – most of them merely describing one’s ‘favorite’ or ‘most thrilling’ theme park attractions, shows, or glorified operational guidelines and ‘commandments’. While those traits are important, they are not guiding design principles.

Architectural Design on a computer screen

I’m searching for the core, guiding design principles a theme park design should consider prior to and during the design phases for new theme park attractions, lands, or even entire new parks. Taking inspiration from Dieter Rams, and since I have found no pre-existing guiding principles, here are my top ten principles for meaningful theme park designs.

Guiding Principles of Theme Park Design

1. Good theme park design should push technological boundaries.

Technological advances offer new opportunities for theme park Guests immersion into innovative theme park design pushing the bounds of anything created to date.

2. Good theme park design makes a product’s story meaningful.

1.     A good theme park design solution must satisfy certain criteria, not only functional and legal, but also the narrative’s aesthetic and emotional requirements. Good theme park design leaves the Guests in wonderment and personally moved by the narrative revealed.

3. Good theme park design is aesthetically supportive of the theme.

The aesthetic quality of a story is integral to its meaning and its justification for translating it into the built environment. Only well-executed and meticulously designed stories are visually pleasing when brought to life in the third dimension.

4. Good theme park design tells a clear story.

A clearly defined story designed and built in the third dimension must be self-evident. Convey only one major story or theme, as multiple, conflicting stories being told at once only confuse Guests.

5. Good theme park design screens the banal and the obtrusive.

Theme Park designs shall obstruct or conceal any physical or psychological elements that are a detraction from the story or theme translated into the third dimension.

Click Here To Learn About Other Guiding Design Principles

6. Good theme park design shall include a crescendo.

Theme Park designs shall support the overarching story or theme being conveyed. Also, the various components of a theme park, regardless of their function – attraction, show, transportation, food & beverage, etc. – shall each have its own crescendo to its individual supporting storyline. A subplot payoff for the Guest that is supportive of the theme park’s overarching narrative.

7. Good theme park design is great storytelling in the third dimension.

Good theme park design, regardless of its physical type – building, landscape design, interior design, attraction, show, transportation, etc. – is a meaningful and specific narrative conceived and implemented to the highest degree of excellence in the third dimension supporting the overarching theme.

8. Good theme park design details support not hinder the story.

Nothing arbitrary and non-supportive of the story or theme should be apparent to the Guests. Care and accuracy in the design process – and the later implemented design for every primary, secondary, and tertiary detail – shall all be considered and addressed in the final design. Only the design details supportive of the story shall be visible by the theme park Guests.

9. Good theme park design is safe and environmentally friendly.

Good theme park design makes the Guests personal safety and the preservation of the environment the highest priorities. Its design makes every attempt to preserve the personal safety of its Guest and its operators, while conserving natural resources and minimizing physical and visual pollution throughout its lifecycle, the top priority.

10. Good theme park design is efficient with its details.

Good theme park design is clear, concise, and devoid of unnecessary, ‘design for design’s sake’. Ultimately, only the theme park Architecttheir design team, and design sub-consultants can determine and implement the final design details.

10 Principles of Theme Park Design Infographic
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