Theme parks are all about creating a fantasy world in tangible reality. They are about weaving what we think is impossible and building as close as we can to that impossible vision with the budget and materials we have available.
Here are some tips to consider.
Use Theatrical Principles
A successful theme park design uses similar principles to what we see in theatrical productions and the film industry, with the use of detailed concepts, taking advantage of mechanical, lighting and other special effects to improve the atmosphere.
However, the biggest challenge with theme park attractions is that you do not only have to build a set to be passively seen from a distance but be walked through. It is tactile, and an entire space needs to draw and attract the eye.
Set An Imaginative Atmosphere
Theme parks tend to opt for brighter, more imaginative settings, for rather self-evident reasons. When people go to a theme park they want to be carried away to a bright world where anything is possible.
If you look at many successful theme parks, the connection between them is that almost fantastical worlds they create, so that should be the first step to designing your attraction.
Not every park needs a theme likes this; Blackpool Pleasure Beach takes as much advantage of its location, only having one themed location in Nickelodeon Land and sparing the themes for the attractions themselves.
Create Your Attraction’s Narrative
Theme park attractions are about storytelling, ultimately. Whether that narrative is as basic as a white knuckle roller-coaster or is a full-scale film or theatrical production, every ride tells a story, at a basic level.
Typically an attraction has the build-up, which should start as soon as an attendee thinks about going into the queue, then you have the anticipation once they are fitted into the ride, then the thrill or main feature before the end.
A good example of this principle in action is Oblivion at Alton Towers. Oblivion uses the theme of a dangerous experiment, which builds up anticipation at the excitement of the ride.
Then the anticipation comes when you are fixed in, with announcements showing just how dangerous it is. The ride moves, rises, and reaches the precipice, the main near-90 degree drop which provides the main feature before settling to a stop.