The most important step in designing a theme park is determining the best location. Before design can begin, you must know what kind of weather to expect and what kind of population the park has to draw from.
Once you have found the perfect location for your theme park, how many visitors should you expect? By the end of Disneyland’s first summer season the park had 1.2 million visitors. In 1956, the first full year of operation greeted 3.8 million visitors and that number steadily grew to 6.7 million in 1966, the year that Walt Disney died.
In 2008, Magic Kingdom in Florida attracted an estimated 17 million visitors and Disneyland California attracted an estimated 14.7 million. The remainder of the world’s top five (all Disney parks) ranged from 12-14 million.
Within the top 10, number 10, is Everland in South Korea at 6.6 million visitors. Number 11, through 15, range tightly at 5-6 million visitors. But unless your park can perform in the top 25, you should probably expect around 3 million visitors a year.
The number of visitors that your theme park attracts every year is the most critical number that you will need before you start to design. From this number all other design decisions can be made. Unfortunately, if you guess wrong with this number you can end up wasting millions on unused capacity, or lose out on potential revenue due to long lines and unavailable capacity.
Once you’ve settled on a location it is imperative that you consult with experts to determine your estimated attendance.
I would recommend two companies for feasibility studies. Both companies are made up of former Disneyland executives. The first company is VisionMaker. I have employed the expertise of VisionMaker for my own secret project with pleasant results. Although I have not worked directly with Apogee this is another company with experts in the field of theme park feasibility. Click on the company names to visit their Websites and learn more for yourself.
For the 2008 attendance estimates I used this Website.
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.