What is the Concept Design Phase?

The Concept Phase is an advancement of the Blue Sky Phase. The design team will take the design comments from the theme park Owner back in Blue Sky and begin to further refine and advance the ideas and storylines all while working with the Owner to further refine their operational program requirements for the new project. The theme park Architects and Engineers work in tandem with the Creative design team to begin a high-level evaluation of their early concepts.

At the end of the Concept Phase slightly more refined deliverables are provided to the Owner, along with a slightly more detailed project estimate and schedule, for their review. If the Owner agrees to move forward with the project, the design team is given an incremental additional design budget for the next phase of design.

  • Concept Design is the second formal design phase of a theme park or themed entertainment project.
  • Concept Design often is completed by a small design team with certain parameters to aim for project feasibility.
  • The Concept Design phase precedes the Feasibility Design Phase.
  • Many projects may never advance past the Concept Design phase for a host of reasons: budget, constructibility, etc.

Understanding the Concept Design Phase

With respect to the formulation of design projects, the Concept Design phase is somewhat unique to theme park design, however other large commercial (non-theme park) projects may implement this design phase to begin generating ideas without the burden of a large design team.

Many of the larger theme park owners, who have internal creative design groups such as Walt Disney Imagineering, Universal Creative, etc., utilize the Concept Design phase for their projects. Like the Blue Sky design phase, Concept Design is the second of the three early design phases in which final deliverables are provided at the end of the design phase for estimating, senior executive review, etc. prior to the project being fully capitalized.

Unlike other later design phases for theme park projects, the Blue Sky and Concept Design phases rely more heavily on the creative team members to produce the deliverables for peer review. The roles of the theme park architects and engineers during Concept Design are more focused than in Blue Sky.

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During the Concept Design phase, the role of the theme park architects and engineers includes more fact finding initiatives but, the A&E design team will begin producing early line drawings – often 2D with some simple 3D massing studies – to begin evaluating and studying the facility and site ideas generated by the project team and the creative group during the previous Blue Sky design phase.

While the creative group continues to focus and advance their Blue Sky design phase ideas, the theme park architects and engineers are advancing their code studies and further evaluating the known information about the potential, future project’s site conditions. They may be evaluating the existing condition of the future project’s site and/or building(s) that may be utilized or repurposed.

As with all theme park design phases, a specific list of deliverables are typically required by each major project group and design discipline. These deliverables will vary depending on the various groups of project team members. The final Concept Design phase deliverables are reviewed by the various senior leaders, the project estimators, the project schedulers, the project’s various end users and other stakeholders relevant and impacted by the project’s evolution.

Related Terms

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J. Daniel Jenkins GLOSSARY OF TERMS
About the Author J. Daniel Jenkins, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP is a licensed Architect and a former Walt Disney Imagineer with over twenty four years of Commercial + Themed Entertainment design, design mangement, and A&E subject matter expertise. Jenkins, President | Owner of Holihoon Media LLC, is also the Founder | Chief Editor of themeparkarchitect.com who's goal is to teach individuals about theme park architecture, engineering, and design, how to become theme park architects and designers, and discuss themed entertainment centric topics and travel.