Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Theme Park Design – Highways

Across much of the rural United States, land was divided into one square mile sections for agricultural use.  Country roads often ran in grid patterns between the sections.  As towns and communities began to grow up around the farms, sections were further divided and the modest roads gave way to streets, boulevards and highways.

When choosing a site for your theme park, you’ll want to make sure that the site offers easy access to major highways.  The closer that your project is to existing highways the better, otherwise you may need to petition state and local authorities to add new roads; or worse yet, take on the responsibility and investment of building your own roads.

Disneyland was well positioned in an area of orange groves that was giving way to development.  A quarter section of land (one quarter of one square mile, or 160 acres) was originally purchased just off an existing boulevard, and nearby the (still under construction) Santa Ana Freeway.

You may not be so lucky when choosing your site.  Full sections (640 acres), half sections (320 acres) and quarter sections of land (160 acres), are not easy to come by near existing population bases.  Zoning restrictions may keep your project clear of new urban sprawl housing developments.  It might be possible to locate developed property, such as closed factory sites, large enough, with proper zoning and easy highway access.  But a site with existing buildings comes with its own set of problems, such as demolition and, sometimes, toxic waste cleanup.

Other outlaying areas will often include many natural features such as lakes, protected watersheds, hills, and forests.  Those irregularly shaped properties can provide many natural scenic wonders that can be used to your projects best advantage; although these features will often lead to an increase in land needs.  Those sites may also be located farther off the beaten track.  Make certain that you investigate your ability to have easy highway access to your project.

For simplification purposes I will discuss projects built upon standard sections of land, presuming that an adjacent highway, or boulevard borders the property.  The basic principles of theme park design remain the same despite the location and size of your property.

The theme park basics discussed here are extremely general.  Always consult with experts, regarding your specific needs, before making any significant investment into land and/or design.  Feel free to contact me.  I’ll be happy to assist you in your efforts.

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