Constructing the World’s Most Exciting Amusement Parks

by Alyssa L. Ochs

For many families, summertime is synonymous with amusement park season. Amusement parks around the world attract millions of visitors each year, generating millions of dollars in revenue. Although starting an amusement park can be a lucrative business opportunity, entrepreneurs should understand how construction planning and project management must work together to create a comprehensive plan.

As with any construction project, the design and development of amusement rides requires a mastery of physics, engineering, and mathematics. According to the International Association of Amusement Parks (IAAPA), rides must employ fail-safe defaults in case of power outages or external events and redundant mechanisms in critical areas to provide backup in case of malfunctions. Engineers employ modeling software to manipulate these elements, optimizing a ride’s final layout and providing a complete analysis of performance, structural integrity, and g-force parameters. Firms that conduct feasibility studies expand that effort to add initial theme park design, master planning, and promotional presentations.

Ferris wheel

Many modern amusement park rides, including carousels and bumper cars, are made with lightweight fiberglass and plastics. Rollercoasters are often constructed with vibration-dampening material to reinforce their structures. Engineers have lots of creative options at their fingertips, thanks to pneumatic-powered launch systems, linear electric motors, and special effects simulations.

These are just a few of the most creative and innovative amusement parks and rides around the world.

Diggerland – United Kingdom

Construction enthusiasts will enjoy the fact that Diggerland is an amusement park built with modified excavation equipment. One of the big attractions here is the “Dancing Diggers,” which is a 30-minute show featuring five JCBs and a mini loader that perform choreography, stunts and comedy. SpinDizzy is a uniquely-designed and modified JCB tracked excavator that spins eight passengers in a bucket.

Zero Gravity Thrill Amusement Park – Dallas, Texas

Head to Dallas’ Zero Gravity Thrill Amusement Park to experience “Nothin’ but Net” at the SCAD Tower, a ride that takes thrill-seekers 100 feet up and drops them into a suspended net. Riders wear specially-designed harnesses to ensure that they land on their backs. Researchers at the California Institute of Technology actually used the SCAD Tower in a study to determine how people perceive passing time during terrifying experiences.

roller coaster  Adventure Island – Dohar, Qatar

Cincinnati-based International Theme Park Services (ITPS) is building the world’s first reverse-launch rollercoaster that sends riders up hundreds of feet going backwards before launching them forward. Construction at the seven-acre indoor Adventure Island in Qatar is expected to exceed $300,000 million. “Building a theme park is the equivalent of building a city,” explained Dennis Spiegel, President of ITPS. “You have your own fire and security and food service and sanitation and waste removal and supporting and maintenance programs. People go to a theme park to have fun and they don’t understand all of the planning and detail and work that goes into it.”

*Photo credit: and ZakVTA via Flickr

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