Park Design & Crowd Management

Friday, March 28, 2003 8:23 AM
I was wondering what your opinion was about good and bad park layouts in terms of crowd management. Much has been written about Walt Disney World and its various designs (e.g., hub-and-spoke at MK). How do you rate your favorite parks?

One pet peeve I have is the Georgia Scorcher at SFoG. Putting the coaster right by the front entrance almost guarantees overloading demand throughout the day.

- Rob

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Friday, March 28, 2003 8:36 AM
Let me be the first to mention SFKK. Everyone knows that the two sections of park are separated by a 10-foot-wide bridge.... blecch, bottlenecks galore.


I hate how LL dead-ends. It's shaped like a giant lopsided horseshoe, with the entrance at the rounded part.
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A day is a drop of water in the ocean of eternity. A week is seven drops.

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Friday, March 28, 2003 9:40 AM
Overall I think SFGAM has a good design but they are going to have the same crowding issues having SUF at the very fron of the park. I remember lines for shockwave wrapping all the way around the front pool. It is gonna be a mess.
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Friday, March 28, 2003 10:00 AM
Obviously Cedar Point has one of the best park layouts anywhere in terms of being to handle large numbers of people. I also think that Busch Gardens Williamsburg has a great layout with a circular pattern and the coasters spread throughout the park to avoid too much clutter in one area.

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Living in the Theme Park capital of the world!!

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Friday, March 28, 2003 10:27 AM
When it comes to park design, the kiss philosophy (keep it simple stupid) is definatly the rule, simple geometric shapes (circle, square, etc) are best. That obviously means SFGAm, BGW and I will agree with others that CP (thanks to super wide midways) and MK (essentaily two circles attached to each other at different points) are good as well.

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I don't care what anyone says, Magnum is better then Millenium Force.
*** This post was edited by Touchdown 3/28/2003 3:27:47 PM ***

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Friday, March 28, 2003 10:35 AM
CP's layout allows for large numbers of people to be spread out, but there are bottlenecks in some places. I would imagine the midway from Power Tower to Witches Wheel is going to be rather crowded this season.

I also thought SFGAm had a pretty decent layout...you pretty much go left or right, and it's pretty easy to do a "loop".

MiA needs more improvement. The small midway to the right, between Dodgems and Timbers can be awfully crowded. The midway to the back is much wider, but last year there was no way to get from Timbers to the back except to backtrack toward the entrance again. If they add a complete circuit going between Timbers and Wolverine Wildcat to the back, it would help a great deal.

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I'd rather die living than live like I'm dead
http://www.webtechnik.com/ebony/CPLady.htm

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Friday, March 28, 2003 10:57 AM
I was not a big fan of Busch Garden's Layout. Yeah it's pretty and all but the midways were very narrow. It was a nightmare last summer after Imaginique when the crowds were leaving the park al at once. Plus I remember it was a pain in the ass to find Drachen Fire.....forshadowing at it's best. For Best Layout, Great America wins for me. Nothing beats a simple circle. I also like Canada's Wonderland and Knotts.

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Adventura magnífica es el número uno y no lo se olvida!

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Friday, March 28, 2003 11:20 AM
Busch Gardens Tampa was easy for me to get lost, especially going from the entrance to Kumba. Then again, I may have taken the wrong route- I went back through past the train and Rhino Rally. Was there an easier way? If there was, I'm going to kick myself...

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If at first don't succeed, find out if the loser gets anything.

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Friday, March 28, 2003 11:43 AM
I think the big loops are a pain in the neck.

You know what park has a great layout, though...or at least SHOULD have a great layout? Kings Island. It's shaped a little like the NBC corporate logo, with the Eiffel Tower right about at the bird's head. It's effectively a radial design, with interconnecting spokes to tie it all together.

Trouble is, the park keeps building coasters across the ends of the midways and cutting off their access to expansion areas. But for as big as that park is, it's fairly easy to get anywhere from anywhere else. That's why I've always thought that park would be a good place to try a user-directed queue management system.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Friday, March 28, 2003 1:13 PM
RideMan, I`ve heard rumors on another site that the park has been testing a virtual queue system over the winter. Whether they decide to keep it or not, I don`t know. I also heard that Face Off would not be indluded in that system. I agree that PKI has an easy layout to get to any ride from any area in the park. The only gripe I had was the small entrance to the Paramount Action Zone, which is supposed to be widened for this year with the addition of Delirium.

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Coney Island (Cincinnati) ride operator

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Friday, March 28, 2003 1:16 PM
I agree that Kings Island has a good layout. It can be a bit difficult for new guests to find the Beast entrance, though.

One thing I hate about park layouts is the wide expanses of concrete and/or asphalt with little tree coverage. I'm thinking particularly of the Son of Beast/Face-Off area at Kings Island and the area form Millennium Force south to the Skylift. Walking/standing in these areas in the hot summer can really wipe you out.

Dave, what do you mean by "user-directed" queue management? Do you mean pure virtual queueing style systems (Q-Bot) or reservation-based systems (Fastpass)?

- Rob

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Friday, March 28, 2003 3:34 PM
I think SFGAM has a great park design but remember in 2001 when the park was a perfect circle. That sucked because they made a dead end by the Demon and the not yet opened Deja Vu. I think a good park design has little to no dead ends and spreads the crowds out evenly like WDW or SFGAM.

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Mike
Favorite Wood: Viper at SFGAM,Shivering Timbers
Favorite Steel: Magnum and Raging Bull

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Friday, March 28, 2003 5:01 PM
I really like how SFGAm is layed out in a circle, it makes everything really easy to find for first time visitors.

Cedar Point also has a good layout with the large midway and then it splits up into a circle, until Wicked Twister was built though I didn't really notice the path by where Chaos will be now though.

SFWoA really needs some work though on layout IMO. I thought that was the only problem with the park, I had the hardest time finding out where the entrance was to Double Loop and Villian during my first visit.

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Final Deja Vu Count for the 2002 Season: 52
http://www.SFGAmWorld.com

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Friday, March 28, 2003 5:11 PM
Six Flags Over Texas has a really confusing layout because I always get lost between Titan, TG, and Runaway Mountain because there is a dead end around there. Also the entrance to Judge Roy Scream is kinda confusing.
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Friday, March 28, 2003 6:36 PM
About my queue management idea (NOT virtual queueing!)--

Kings Island would be a good place to test because (a) the park layout makes it possible to get from one side to the other without walking all the way around, and (b) because they have QTV monitors all over the place. My thought is that the queue lengths are monitored, and current information about queue lengths is available near all the major rides. So that if you see a 1-hour wait for The Beast, you are also informed that it's only a 20 minute wait for Flight of Fear. The theory is that if you let people know that they can get on a ride elsewhere without waiting, they might change their pattern for 'doing' the park. Even better would be to also post times when the ride in question is predicted to be less busy, although that could backfire by causing everybody to mob the ride when you told them it wouldn't be busy.

A dramatic example of the queueing conditions in parks is Cedar Point's Raptor. The ride is the first coaster you come to when you enter the front gate and start down the midway. As a result, thirty minutes after the park opens, it has a full queue and a 75-minute wait. This is because most of the people in that queue don't know that if they return to the ride at 3:00 in the afternoon, the ride is a walk-on. And they don't know that thirty minutes after the gates open, Magnum XL-200 is a walk-on, and at 3:00 in the afternoon it will have an hour wait. People don't know these patterns, and so they can't adapt to them. If the park arms people with information they might be able to spread the load out a little. It will make the non-peak lines a little longer, but it could make the peak lines a lot shorter.

Unfortunately, a park that is laid out in a gigantic circle makes this kind of queue management impractical unless some easy means is provided to cut across the center of the circle. And I don't consider the path down to the river at BGW to be "easy". :)

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Friday, March 28, 2003 6:45 PM
My favorite design in terms of simplicity is IOA. Just one easy to navigate loop and you're sure you won't miss anything.

While I enjoy parks that offer a bit of mystery and off-the-beaten path character once I get used to them I think the layouts of places like Hersheypark, BGW and BGT leave a lot ot be desired in that a lot of folks will leave having missed subtantial chunks of the park unless they make it a point to backtrack and go through every alternate route. I'll forgive a park like Idlewild for this, because it's within the character of the park.

And, while we're on the subject of layouts, hilly parks may look great against the terrain but they're murder after a marathon day at the park. Magic Mountain comes to mind. I know Holiday World is small but on a long day even the slow uphill walk out of the park from Legend wears heavy.

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Friday, March 28, 2003 6:58 PM
Cedar Point has a great layout to hold huge crowds and make it easy for everyone to find everything around the loop (although I know a group who went through the whole park and never found and forgot to ride Blue Streak*), but it really annoys me that so many people are in the same area at the same time and it's hard to get away from "crowds" (one of the reasons I actually will visit Mean Streak)*. The outrageously packed midways I've experienced really pull some of the fun out of it. I think I've been personally violated more than once there before.* Someone needs to take me on one of those good days. The coasters don't need to have short waits, but I want to be able to breathe. *

I'm not a big fan of BGT's layout, especially the dead end at Montu, but luckily the Skyway isn't too far away to get across the park.

As far as layouts I really enjoy, BGW, SFGAm, all Universal Florida, all Disney are big enough to spread out crowds and easy and fun to get around. Exploring a park for the first time and having new things come up around every corner is one thing I like to find in a layout. I don't want it to be where I completely missed a coaster halfway around the park, but I want it to be complex enough not to know what to expect next and handle crowds.

*-;)

-Danny

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Saturday, March 29, 2003 10:30 AM
So let me get this straight. The system you're referring to is virtually (no pun intended) what Universal Islands of Adventure uses? I personally liked their use of it, but it didn't help much because IOA is a loop.

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If at first don't succeed, find out if the loser gets anything.

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Saturday, March 29, 2003 11:17 AM
IOA has the right idea. Trouble is, at least the night I was there, the only place where all the wait times are listed is at the Port of Entry. That doesn't help you much, since you never get back there during a visit because the park is a giant loop. When you really want to know that Dueling Dragons is a walk-on is when you're standing in front of Hulk with an hour-long queue.

The large sign indicating that "The wait for this ride is mm minutes" is a good first start, but it would be more useful if you also knew what the waits were for other rides elsewhere.

The key to success for any crowd management system is to spread people more or less evenly throughout the park. This, of course, is where the Duell loop design fails, because unless the park has entrances at both sides of the loop (Darien Lake, for instance) there will be two large groups of people which both arrived right when the park opened, one group going each direction. And the two groups will converge simultaneously on the big new coaster at the back of the park right about 2:00pm, making for a huge wait on a ride that has been not-busy all morning long.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.
Who has learned to turn *left* upon entering a park with a loop layout...

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Saturday, March 29, 2003 11:37 AM
Except for CP, But I am betting that eill change this year. My poor Maggie :(

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It's like a Whirlwind inside of my head!

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