One subject that has not addressed yet is the question of design tools: That is, what tools are used by designers to create theme park attractions?

AutoCad drafting

AutoCad is a tool that has almost completely replaced hand drafting for the development of plans, sections and elevations in most of the world of design and construction. AutoCad is a part of many attraction designers’ skill sets.

AutoCad designers are an essential part of the design team, and often translate concept sketches into objects with real dimensions. Cad drafting in the theme park design world is used in the creation of a ‘show set package’ that describes the required show elements necessary for the production of a theme park attraction.

We might mention that one of the few places that AutoCad has not completely replaced hand drafting is in the realm of theme park attraction design. Simply put, the straight, vector-oriented lines of cannot reproduce the layers of detail and texture required for theme park attractions. Old fashioned pencil-on-drafting table is still quite necessary and is not obsolete – yet.

As a word of caution to those starting out: There are a lot of immitation Cad programs out there, but the industry standard and the only one used industry wide is AutoCad. Anyone attempting to market their skills has a much stronger hand knowing AutoCad.

Autocad is made by AutoDesk, Inc, based in San Rafael, California. Student versions can be obtained through local colleges and universities for hundreds of dollars. The full version costs upwards of $5000 retail. Classes in AutoCad are widely available through local community colleges, although the best skills are acquired when accompanied by training in architecture.


Here’s a typical front elevation of theme park attraction. In the realm of themed attraction design, we would consider this a ‘show element’. In this case, the original TWA Rocketship ‘weenie’ for Tomorrowland. This drawing was not drawn by a professional, as you can see by the varying text height and the out-of-scale dimension style. But it does illustrate how AutoCad can be used as a tool when developing attraction elevations.

Design Tools: What tools are used?

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