Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Combo Plan

There are three basic circulation plans for theme parks that have proven successful.  The Star Plan uses the rays of the star as walkways all leading back to the same hub.  The plan is simple; it keeps themed lands separated and keeps visitors from getting lost.  The Wheel Plan adds an outer rim walkway to the Star.  It improves the circulation and the even distribution of visitors.  The Loop Plan creates a single loop around the park ensuring easy access to every attraction along the same common circular path.

The Combo Plan uses any combination of the basic three plans.  (A figure-eight is two loops put together.)  As an illustration, the basic circulation plan for Epcot uses the Wheel plan for Future World, and the Loop plan for world Showcase.

Epcot is the largest theme park in the industry, covering about 160 acres of park area.  Future World alone is as big as most major theme parks.  World Showcase is so large that a walk around the lagoon loop is just over a mile.  The lagoon itself is just slightly smaller than Disneyland’s original 60 acres.  Epcot is twice the size of Disneyland’s current 80 in-park acres, yet it had only 10.9 million visitors in 2008, compared to Disneyland at 14.7 million visitors.  Magic Kingdom attracted 17 million visitors the same year.

Circulation for Future World works quite well.  The area can easily achieve even distribution of visitors on a busy day.  On an average day the entire park remains too big for the number of visitors.  Again, the problems could have been solved during planning if visitor psychology had been taken into consideration.  Most visitors plan to first explore Future World, and then move on to World Showcase.  The result is that World Showcase is under utilized in the morning and Future World is under utilized in the afternoon. 

Be sure to carefully study your likely attendance.  Plan your acreage to match your attendance.  Then, be sure to consider visitor psychology when planning your circulation plan.

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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