Blue Sky Theme Park Attraction Design

Developing the theme for a new theme park attraction may seem like a simple task. Begin with a ride, a restaurant, a retail location or space. Then select from a library of themes and apply it like a template to the space. This thinking may appear to work in some cases. A pirate theme, jungle theme or a space theme comes to mind. But what about when the answer is not so obvious? The question, “What should it really look like?” is a question that every themed attraction designer must be able to answer. That answer often comes from a design tool called an image board. Putting together an image board is a truly helpful exercise in theme development. This article will demonstrate how to put an image board together.

To begin, find a large blank wall. This is your canvas. Sometimes a white bed sheet or a foam core board can be used. Make the area large enough to hold as many images as you think necessary. Then begin pulling images. Look in magazines, the internet, books, and any other place you can find an image related to your theme. Place the images on the wall to form a very loose collage. Fill the wall. Sometimes the images will relate to people, sometimes to props, sometimes to the environment. Put them all on the board and then let the images speak.

Pull as many images as possible. Image after image, layer upon layer. Pin them to the board. What you will find is that while every image will not fit, some elements in the images will establish themselves as a trend. You will soon discover the elements you should include as part of your theme. Try it! The results are fantastic.

To give you an example, let us suppose that we are developing a water ride based on Chinese mythology. What might the boats in the attraction look like? I pulled 10 representative images from the web using “Chinese Junk” as a google keyword. Placing them on our sample image board below, these images begin to paint a picture. While all are not alike and some may not even be appropriate, each image tells a story about what elements should be present in your theme.

As you look at these images below, try to spot trends on the image board and then apply that thinking when you create the theme.

To finish the process, identify all the typical elements within these images. What does a junk sail look like? What does the rope look like? What do the decks look like? What does the rudder look like? What color palettes are typical? How are these boats armed? What kind of wood are these boats composed of? What do people wear on these boats?