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Mar 16, 2016
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So I brought this up in the JP/JW Coaster thread that I wanted to do something like this, a thread talking about park layouts and it's impact on flow, expansion, and crowd sizes. This is something actually right up my ally, and it's something I get nerdy about. The same things that create a great community create a great park. I'm going to post about the different styles in each post so that it's easier for y'all to quote and for us to talk about.
 
Mar 16, 2016
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So the first style park I'm going to talk about is the "horseshoe" layout. I think we're all familiar with this shape.
51KQx6bax4L._AC_UL320_SR308,320_.jpg


Before I get into talking about it, lets give an example (one we're mostly all familiar with) in the layout of Kings Dominion:
park_3.jpg

So to understand that this is a horseshoe, think of International Street, the Eiffel Tower, and the extending back area as the center 'empty' part of the horseshoe, along with Planet Snoopy. The other areas/lands around it create the actual horseshoe shape.

This tends to match the more current planning designs of current communities that are built, with a central shopping area (the inside of the horseshoe), a zone of high density residential, then an area of low density residential. If you want a good look at this some time, look on google maps or google earth look of Seaside Florida (yes this is the town that they used for The Truman Show).

So let's start covering some stuff:

PROS:
~ The grand entrance promenade is often BIG in parks like this. This offers a large welcoming area for park guests to get to. It also has a central navigable point in the center to always know where to head back to.
~Navigation off the main promenade is easy. You go right or left and circle the central point. But from any spot you can get back to the gate easily.
~Control of crowd flow is very easy, as you use wide walkways on the horseshoe, narrow on the "connector" paths.

Look again up at that map. IS is highly identifiable, and every coaster fits on the arch, starting with Dominator and ending at Grizzly.

CONS:
~ If the crowds do not follow your paths, you can get congestion easily. EX: At KD if crowds decide the fastest way to TT is through IS, behind the Tower, into CAG, that pathway isn't able to handle it. And then they are walking past your revenue centers in OD and SV.
~ If you complete the horseshoe, expansion means moving outward. For KD's sake, they haven't done that yet. They could do more in OD, and move their ops from right of the front gate and have a HUGE plot of land.
~ Depending of the scale of your horseshoe, it's a possibility of a LONG walk from attraction to attraction.

OTHER PARKS THAT USE THIS DESIGN:
A majority of CF parks, almost all of SF's. Lake Compounce and Kennywood, though from air they look like a horizontal bar, do go off this design in a 'squashed' manner.
 
Mar 16, 2016
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Next is quite possibly in my opinion, the best layout that you can have for a park, and I'll get into it in the pros and cons. But the best is the "Wheel and Spoke" design. To give an Ariel view of what I'm referencing, I'll give you quite possibly the most famous design of them all:
61S1JXYGWRL.jpg


Yup, that's Magic Kingdom. Two other places in the world to look at this that's not a theme park: Washington DC and Paris. Both use "Wheel and Spoke" layouts. Wheel and Spoke layouts feature a central point in the middle that you can emanate from, with the entire park making a ring around this point.

PROS:
~ Once you walk in, you have a main point pointing you to the center. Then there's a wide path that can lead you to each zone from that central location. This can give you a point to continually come back to (much like the horseshoe).
~ Theoretically, every point of the park is equidistant from each other. Meaning if you continually go back through the center point, no matter where you go in the park, the central node from that part to the next, it's the same distance. Conversely you could loop the circle, and you would be walking the same distance to neighboring areas.
~ This layout puts firm boundaries to the area which the park will be.

CONS:
~ Expansion requires planning ahead and either an entire new wheel with spokes, or plots purposefully left open to add spots to.
~ The park's backstage area tends to limit the ability to expand.

Now I did want to cover another look at this layout:
b68b70e4-5ab7-415d-835e-21706c98b6e0_d.jpg


Yes that's Islands of Adventure, but it's the early days. I wanted an early look at it for a reason. It's missing the central hub, but it is a "Wheel and Spoke" design. Originally (I'm not sure if they still do) there were boats that criss crossed the lake, acting as the central design hub to 'come back to'. Now as I mentioned in another thread, Universal left open lots on this layout. The two biggest are where Forbidden Journey and Kong now reside. But the Toon Lagoon theater was meant to be a 'stand in' until they developed a better ride there, behind Hulk (where the Storm Ride resides is another spot, right next to Posidons Fury, and in the middle of Suess land is another area. So they had 6 expansion plots built in, and still haven't used 4 of them.

The reason I wanted to cover this, was that it gives you a great look of what a well planned theme park can give you. Every area is unique and separate. Yet to navigate the park (when the boats existed) was easy. They left areas to grow into, without having to rip out old attractions. The fact that we are losing the games in JP, is actually another example of a 'temporary area' the park set up to expand within in the future.
 

Mushroom

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Love these reports! I've seen KD characterized as a "wheel and spoke" park before because every area of the park except Safari Village connects to the central hub around the Eiffel Tower. Is it possible to put the park into that category too?
 
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Love these reports! I've seen KD characterized as a "wheel and spoke" park before because every area of the park except Safari Village connects to the central hub around the Eiffel Tower. Is it possible to put the park into that category too?

Yes and no.

Yes, because if you take Safari Village out of it, you can make a wheel and spoke. Not really, my answer comes to no. It's not a true wheel shape, as OD doesn't connect to the main area like the path to the Pirate ship does. IMO too, the imbalance with Safari Village takes it more ins a horseshoe if we consider that we can alter the orientation some and the "open end" is where the park ops are, it really fits the horseshoe.

In the end, the horseshoe and the wheel and spoke designed are incredibly closely related.
 
Sep 29, 2009
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I wonder who designed the layout of Busch Gardens Williamsburg. I have heard that they also planned the pathways at Six Flags Magic Mountain or Over Georgia. I don't remember their name, though.
 
Mar 16, 2016
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I wonder who designed the layout of Busch Gardens Williamsburg. I have heard that they also planned the pathways at Six Flags Magic Mountain or Over Georgia. I don't remember their name, though.

Not entirely sure. But BGW is an interesting case, as there aren't many parks like it, and Epcot is another example.

It's a double wheel and spoke. Think of Epcot, it's a wheel and spoke in the Future world and Horseshoe in the World Showcase. BGW exhibits some of those tendencies.
 

Zimmy

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I think busch may be impacted more than others by its natural environment and limitations. (water, hills, gas pipeline)
 
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I think busch may be impacted more than others by its natural environment and limitations. (water, hills, gas pipeline)

Correct. Although it was a choice to close off the Rhine, to have a lake/pond/'river' to be the central focal points. My next two examples of layouts are going to highlight the 'worst' in layouts and I might shock you in it.
 
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So, moving onto another style of park layout, I'm going to highlight one of my least favorites: THE CITY BLOCK.

The city block is as it sounds, literally a city block look. Again lets give an example, this time with Busch Gardens Tampa:
small_6374e7__MG_9863.jpeg


Literally is a city block from the air. Like all others there are pro's and cons to this one. I think thus one does become much more interesting when you expand the possibilities.

PROS:
~Defined boarders to the park. Duh.
~Growth potential is easy. If you start in a corner, you can organically grow your pathways based on expanding to areas that see high traffic.
~No need to set aside plots of land (like the first two examples).

CONS:
Ok, so before I get into the cons, something to understand is some of this are personal reasons, some are legit.
~Organic pathway growth ban be confusing to navigate. Dead ends turned into circular paths, paths needing to randomly dodge something that was there, and so on.
~Backstage areas are impossible near the middle of the park, so either you need to put it there and have an access path, have a lot of rides start there, or have a couple of coasters collect there. (if you want a good look at what I mean, look at Blackpool Pleasure Beach some time and notice how a majority of their coasters collect to one area)
~Long distances from area to area unless you develop some type of transportation system (train, sky ride, monorail).

Now like I said before the pro/con list though, it can be very interesting. For example, just because you have a city block plot of land, doesn't mean you are stuck to using that style. You can do wheel and spoke within that, using the excess land for backstage areas, like Disneyland:
KEkTPBKBC_1_64_N12R.jpg


The advantage here is that you get the spoke and wheel design, with areas blocked off for back staging. The downside is, if you want to expand, you HAVE to lose something to make it happen.
 
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Ok, so last 'basic' design (@Joe got me to jump the gun a little, but I'll come back to that). The banana. Yup, shaped just like a banana.

The most famous banana park? Well this one is poor design with it but Hersheypark:
aerial-photos-55a492d17d95f613.jpg


Ok, I'm going to do the pros and cons based on Hersheypark's layout, then I'm going to go to another look at one and we can talk about that one.

PROS:
~Expansion is REALLY EASY, as you can just keep going out at either end.
~Backstaging is easier as you can have one point for all of it.
~Umm.....It looks good in pictures?

CONS:
~With the entrance at one side, you got extremely long walks to the back corner of the park.
~There's a distinct lack of a 'central point'
~In park expansion can quickly become a PITA.

On the other hand there are some 'good' examples of the banana shape. Like Water Country USA Williamsburg. It's a banana shape with the entrance right at the bend. Almost a reverse horseshoe. Now the far ends are about just as far from the entrance, and there's still a central point.
 
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So on the question of Cedar Point:
Not all parks fit perfectly into the formulaic methods prescribed. Like think the of the Ariel Map of Richmond VA. Take out the highways and you see straight city blocks. Take out the surface roads (so looking only highways) you see wheel and spoke. Take away non-boulevards and highways and you got a horseshoe.

Cedar Point IMO would fit more the city block style, but with the elements of a Wheel and Spoke design. Front gate back to Iron Dragon is basically a grid, and once you hit that point, everything circles around Cedar Point Lake and Adventure Island.

Another Park with and identity crisis is Universal Orlando and worse yet Universal Hollywood.
 
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like DC... take out the one ways that randomly end, take out the circles, take out the water, and it kind of makes sense!
Once you're used to navigating DC, it makes total sense. Problem is, I found that navigating DC on a daily basis seemed to shrink the part of my brain that was capable of navigating a simple grid. So when I moved to a city with a grid layout, it took my brain a bit of time to figure out what the hell to do with that.
 
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Once you're used to navigating DC, it makes total sense. Problem is, I found that navigating DC on a daily basis seemed to shrink the part of my brain that was capable of navigating a simple grid. So when I moved to a city with a grid layout, it took my brain a bit of time to figure out what the hell to do with that.

DC was laid out by a Frenchman...so think Frenchy and you get DC.
 
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Zimmy

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I totes get the grid on a wheel thing, and that is all fine. Heck I even have no issues with traffic circles in principal. (they work well enough in the Gulf) My issue is with how the simple becomes bizarre in practice. One ways make no sense in DC. Oh sure again in principal they work, every other street, but in practice that is not the case.
 
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I totes get the grid on a wheel thing, and that is all fine. Heck I even have no issues with traffic circles in principal. (they work well enough in the Gulf) My issue is with how the simple becomes bizarre in practice. One ways make no sense in DC. Oh sure again in principal they work, every other street, but in practice that is not the case.
Agreed. The direction of one-ways seems to be an exercise in memorization no matter where you are. The thing about DC that annoys me the most is the weird way Pennsylvania Avenue splits. It gets me every time. Even though I'm fully aware of the split, it never fails to disorient me. But perhaps disorientation was part of L'Enfant's plan all along. Well played, France.
 
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