Area Development

What is Area Development?

The term Area Development, with respect to theme park design, is an all encompassing term specifically related to the landscape architecture, the placemaking using natural and man-made natural looking materials, and exterior areas between and around theme park facilities and structures. The Area Development incorporates the design of exterior hardscape (paving) and soft scape (plants, trees, shrubs, etc.) design elements and subsequent exterior built elements such as exterior furniture, benches, pedestrian gates, vehicular gates, the irrigation system serving the live plants, fence and screen wall design, faux or man-made plant materials that may be used to enhance the live plants, live and man-made rock work elements used in exterior planter walls, walkways, etc. and exterior lighting features that illuminate promenades, planter accent lighting, etc.

Area Development design for theme parks also often includes the design and specification of modified planting soils that may be required for unique plants or planting instances and they also define the fine or finished grading of a project site. The Area Development design packages often exclude mass grading elevations and design and they do not incorporate deep utility design – this effort and scope of work is captured in the Site Development design and design packages scope of work provided by the theme park Civil Engineers.

  • Area Development in theme parks is about the placemaking of Guest or on stage areas.
  • Area Development design is lead by themed park Landscape Architects.
  • The Area Development design packages are a separate group of packages issued for a project to achieve their specific permits for construction.
  • Area Development design does not extend inside theme park facilities except on rare occasions.

Understanding Area Development

The Area Development design is a parallel effort provided by the Architecture and Engineering team members working in tandem with the facility Architects and Engineers, Creative design team, Show and Show Lighting design team, and the other non-design team project stakeholders.

Area Development design in theme parks is important as it maintains and binds the story, theme, and concepts of theme park Guests as they move between the various theme park facilities and vertical structures. The Landscape Architects who lead the Area Development design must work and coordinate their design efforts with the other various design disciplines of a theme park so they can provide a cohesive design and look.

✅ Learn more about Theme Park Landscape Architects!

The Area Development team often works in tandem, during the early design phases of a theme park, with the theme park Master Planners and Site Development (Civil Engineers) to provide design input in the overall, feel and theme of the entire theme park, theme park land, or themed project area.

Related Terms

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About the Author J. Daniel Jenkins, AIA, NCARB is a licensed Architect, Theme Park Design Consultant, and former Senior Project Design Manager at Walt Disney Imagineering with over twenty years of subject matter expertise and design team leadership experience. Jenkins is the creator of who's goal is to teach individuals about theme park architecture and design, how to become theme park architects and designers, and discuss themed entertainment industry related topics. For nearly a decade, Mr. Jenkins has worked in the themed entertainment industry on new themed entertainment attractions, theme park lands, and new theme parks. Upon leaving Walt Disney Imagineering, Jenkins started his own Design Management Consulting company where he has consulted with and provided subject matter expertise and project leadership for new, confidential projects for several themed entertainment companies. Mr. Jenkins holds a five-year Master of Architecture degree from the Savannah College of Art and Design and a Virtual Design and Construction Certificate from Stanford University.
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