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December 18th, 2019 | Concrete, Construction


The amusement park market is steadily growing thanks to new innovations and technologies making themed rides more engaging and interactive. It’s estimated that the global amusement park market was valued at $45.2 billion USD in 2017, and it’s projected to reach $70.83 billion by 2025. This substantial and steady growth means that municipalities and venture capitalists have a strategic investment opportunity they can capitalize on with the development of new theme park construction.

There’s a lot that goes into the construction of a theme park. Specialized experts in fields like mechanics, chemistry, materials engineering and construction technology all work together to successfully and safely build a theme park. But perhaps the unsung hero of all amusement parks and roller coasters is the concrete material used to support and shape the overall park’s landscape and structure. Without concrete, the amusement park wouldn’t take form and wouldn’t be safe for visitors to freely interact without worry or inhibition. In this guide, we’ll uncover how theme parks are built, including the role that concrete plays in bringing rides and attractions to life.


When we think of classic American amusement park locations, the obvious one that comes to mind is Orlando, Florida. It’s safe to assume that Orlando became the world’s theme park capital because of its climate and year-round vacation weather. But that’s not the only thing the city has going for it. There are several factors that developers look at when choosing an amusement park site to determine whether it will be a viable business investment. Here are some of the considerations for theme park locations:

  • Climate: Though Disney would have you assuming that successful theme parks can only run in Anaheim or Orlando, there are tons of theme parks throughout the rest of the country. Six Flags operates hugely popular theme parks in the Midwest and northeast and even has a location in Montreal, Quebec. Typically, these four-season location theme parks don’t operate a full year-round schedule. They go full swing in the summer months and scale back operations to weekends-only in the colder months. Some of these parks capitalize on the holiday season, turning their parks into festive family celebrations that honor the beloved time of year.
  • Population: An amusement park’s location has to have the population to support it in order to establish a solid market base. Generally, theme parks are located within highly urbanized areas with populations of several million people or more. However, building a new theme park in metropolitan areas means there will also be more competition as other entertainment businesses seek to capitalize on the same customer base. Urban areas also command higher labor costs. Services are also costlier in big cities, making a park expensive to operate. And most importantly, it will cost much more to purchase land in the most desirable areas. The right location for an amusement park must strike a balance between cost and opportunity in order for the business to prosper.


  • Demographics: Even if a location has millions of people, it’s also important to consider the demographics of the epicenter. Different visitors of different ages are drawn to amusement parks for different reasons. It’s important for theme parks to be able to both capitalize on the demographics of the area’s local population and attract visitors from out of town, out of state or out of the U.S. Amusement parks do well in family-friendly markets where there’s a strong demographic base of younger households. However, the aging baby-boomer population is also a major driver in amusement park visits, making more retirement-oriented centers attractive for park developers.
  • Transportation: Amusement parks need to rely on their ability to draw in visitors from all over the place if they want to thrive. This means that the theme park’s location needs to be accessible by multiple transportation methods. Disney World’s location is in a prime spot between two major Orlando highways — Interstate 4 and the Florida Turnpike. It’s important to establish an amusement park that’s easy for locals and residents of the surrounding areas to drive to and conveniently park for the day. It’s also vital for the amusement park to be near an international airport that can service out-of-country visitors and connect them easily to the theme park.
  • Tourism support: To make an amusement park successful, you want to encourage visitors to return for multiple days, rather than a short day visit. To attract people from out of town, the amusement park’s location must have the surrounding tourism infrastructure to support and encourage multi-day vacations. When people visit from out of town, they need an ample selection of hotels or vacation rentals. They also need restaurants and shopping centers as well as other forms of entertainment to make a longer stay worthwhile. Again, it’s important to consider the trade-off between these ideal location attributes and the potential for competition.

When choosing a location for your potential amusement park, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons. Some decision factors will carry more weight, meaning you need to give priority to them when deciding on a site. Once you’ve identified the right location for your amusement park, the next step is to determine how extensive the park will be and how it will be strategically developed in order to attract a wide variety of visitors.



Anyone who loves amusement parks can appreciate how a well-designed attraction can improve the overall experience, allowing you to get lost in the magic rather than frustrated by inefficiencies. Designing a theme park is part art, part science. It requires developers to bring a creative vision to life within the confines of the physical site, local regulations and other restrictions and factors.

An amusement park’s layout should be based on strategy, safety and encouraging people to stay and enjoy themselves for as long as possible. There were nearly half a billion visits to theme parks around the world in 2017. And many big amusement parks receive tends of thousands of visitors each day, meaning there is a significant responsibility that park designers have to keep the park not only safe but easy to navigate and enjoy despite sharing the space with so many other visitors. When developing your amusement park layout, here are some key factors to keep in mind:

  • Promote the flow of traffic: One of the most critical tenets of proper amusement park layout is the ability to promote and control the flow of traffic. The layout should allow visitors to follow clearly defined concrete paths and walkways, but not limit traffic so much that it creates bottlenecks, congestion and hoards of crowds. It’s important that theme park visitors be encouraged to spread out throughout the park to prevent clogs at particular attractions in certain park sections. Finally, a well laid out theme park should also intuitively guide visitors to major attractions, while keeping them away from park operation spaces they aren’t meant to wander into.
  • Consider the accessibility of visitors: Roughly ten percent of the U.S. population are people with physical disabilities, meaning that park designers must be conscious of accessibility in their layout. If certain attractions are designed around narrow pathways or stairwells, it’s critical that there also be wide concrete sidewalks and rampways available as well to accommodate wheelchairs, walkers and other assistive devices. Parks should also make it clearly known where wheelchair accessible points are if it isn’t obvious that a person with a disability can access certain attractions.


  • Place largest attractions strategically: Because amusement parks need to be conscious of the flow of traffic, it’s important to strategically place the largest attractions to encourage the even distribution of traffic throughout the park. Generally, the park’s largest attractions are placed towards the middle or back of the park. This placement encourages people to flow through shopping, restaurants, concession and other ancillary services to generate increased revenue.
  • Plan for high-capacity queues: Nothing deters visitors from staying and enjoying their time at an amusement park like the perception of impossibly long line-ups. Over the years, many amusement parks have come up with solutions to line-ups by offering the ability to pay more for priority ride boarding. However, the majority of visitors don’t upgrade their passes, otherwise, the service would no longer be viable. Therefore, park designers need to make sure that each attraction can accommodate significant queues. When designing the amusement park layout, keep in mind the queue capacity that each attraction needs. It should be small enough not to take up valuable park real estate, but long enough to accommodate peak periods without queues spilling out into the general park area.
  • Put safety first: Safety should be of the highest importance for all amusement park operators. Safety measures should be thoroughly planned and accounted for in the park’s layout. While there can only be one entry point, it’s critical that the park has a plan for emergency exits — both from the attractions themselves and from the park entirely. Wide, flat and solid concrete pathways and walkways can accommodate many people if an emergency does happen. With multiple arteries and exit points, it minimizes the risk of choke points and the inefficient funneling of crowds in emergency situations.



Amusement parks can take years to build. Individual rides and attractions themselves can take upward of three years to finish. The amusement park building process is complex and follows several phases. First, the developers need to finalize the design and acquire the piece of land. Then, the amusement park needs permits and approvals from various levels of government. Once approved, the actual construction process can begin. The following is an overview of each general step in the amusement park building process:

  • Finalize the Layout & Design
  • Finalize Construction Bids
  • Design & Manufacture Rides & Attractions
  • Install Structural Concrete
  • Install & Test Rides & Attractions


Amusement park designs need to be as comprehensive as possible in order to turn a vision into reality. The design will determine critical aspects that direct the construction process, including:

  • Where each ride or attraction will be constructed.
  • How many overall rides and attractions the amusement park will be home to.
  • What supplies, materials and equipment are needed to build the amusement park.
  • Which experts and professionals will be needed to ensure the amusement park is built properly.
  • What additional resources will be needed to finalize the amusement park for opening day.

The design and layout determine the building process, which determines the overall budget. In order for the project to fall within the budget, the design will typically go through multiple iterations until the total projected cost falls in line with the financial resources allocated for the amusement park.



With a final design solidified, the developers can begin opening their project up to bids. Contractors of varying specialties will bid on the opportunity to earn the contract by submitting their estimates for how much it will cost to perform their specific service. Bidding contractors may also recommend to the amusement park developers how to perform certain aspects of construction, including which materials, supplies and equipment to use and how to ensure that the project adheres to building and safety codes. Amusement park developers select the winning bid from the submitted proposals and create contracts with the businesses or contractors before construction begins.


Ride and attraction manufacturing is a highly specialized field. There are ride and attraction manufacturers who contract with amusement park developers to design, build and install the assets for the amusement park. With the developer’s guidance, the ride and attraction manufacturers come up with the design that matches the vision or theme for the park. The amusement park owner signs off on the design and the manufacturer gets to work building the rides and attractions that will eventually be installed at the park. This process can take years depending on how complex the design is.



Once the manufacturing of the rides and attractions is underway, contractors can begin breaking ground at the amusement park’s site. When the land is prepared, contractors can begin installing the structural foundations and elements throughout the park where the rides and attractions will eventually be set up.

Rides and attractions need infrastructure and support set in place before they can be installed, for safety and structural purposes. Working with the ride manufacturers, contractors and structural engineers will design and finalize the concrete foundations for theme park rides. Throughout the park, concrete foundations for rides, attractions and other park amenities will be framed, poured and cured, prepping them for installation.

During this phase, other necessary concrete for amusement parks will be poured. You may not notice it, but throughout theme parks, there’s tons of concrete used to frame the space and provide its structure. Pathways, ramps, staircases, plazas, courtyards and other surface areas will all be installed using poured concrete. Additionally, any ancillary buildings, like restaurants, cafes and shops will also require concrete foundations and framing, depending on local building codes.


The final step in the amusement park building process is to install and test the rides. The ride and attraction manufacturer will ship the assets in pieces to the amusement park site. The installers will carefully put together each ride and attraction piece by piece, and the amusement park will begin to take shape. The rides and attractions then undergo rigorous testing to ensure safety well ahead of opening day. The rides and attractions are then subject to multiple rounds of inspections before being approved for public use.



Concrete is a fundamental material and resource used in amusement park construction. It offers tremendous benefits for ensuring the safety and quality of all elements of a theme park. It provides structural integrity for theme park rides and attractions so they can be properly installed on steady concrete foundations. Concrete also offers a safe and accessible surface for visitors to wander safely throughout the park. If you’re considering building an amusement park, don’t overlook the many benefits of theme park concrete construction:

  • Durable and able to withstand the forces of tension and compression that come with rides and rollercoasters.
  • Weather-resistant in any environment, meaning it can withstand intense elements and remain intact.
  • Tremendous longevity and won’t burn, rust, rot or erode.
  • Versatile and can be molded and formed into any shape, making it the perfect material for creative designs at amusement parks.
  • Good sound-insulation and vibration-resistance to block noise and disruption from rides.
  • Reliable and resilient material with low-maintenance costs.
  • Long life-cycle, low carbon-footprint and 100% recyclable.


Because concrete is such a strong and versatile material, it can be used in a variety of applications throughout your amusement park. Here are some of the applications of concrete for amusement parks and water parks:

  • Sidewalks and pathways: Theme park concrete construction is essential in creating the pathways, sidewalks and streetscapes that lead visitors through the amusement park’s imaginative world. Concrete is necessary to give visitors a safe path to explore the park, but it’s also an important material for ensuring accessibility as it’s used to create ramps, plazas and wide access points.
  • Theme park ride foundations: Millions of tons of concrete are poured every year around the world as new theme park rides are developed. Poured concrete foundations for theme park rides are what give the new roller coaster the structural integrity it needs to safely move thrill-seekers through a world of suspended disbelief. Structural engineers carefully calculate how much concrete is needed to support the weight and intense forces of rides and roller coasters.
  • Attractions and displays: Attractions and displays often have creative themes behind them, such as Disney’s Animal Kingdom, or Universal Studios’ Jurassic World. These attractions and displays are constructed with many materials — the staple one being concrete. But, because these attractions have a story to tell, the concrete needs to be adapted and designed to make these displays come to life. Often, concrete contractors will need to harden and color their product to meet a certain vision, whether it’s a unique texture or specific hue. The versatility of concrete makes it a tremendously useful material that can be applied in all sorts of unique and remarkable ways.
    Theme parks are designed to be a five-senses experience, meaning that every detail of a theme park has to be thoughtfully planned and designed. While there are endless materials and supplies that go into amusement park design, concrete is one that is essential. Park designers rely on theme park concrete construction not only just for the safety and structure of the rides. Concrete also offers flexibility and versatility that allows designers to bring their creative visions to life.



Amusement parks are a thriving long-term business opportunity and their quality construction and safety are paramount to earning a return on investment. Partnering with the right contractors to build your amusement park is key to ensuring a safe and professional end result. R.J. Potteiger Construction Services, Inc. is an industrial concrete and construction service provider offering a range of services for new construction, excavating and hauling and more.

If you’re looking for a sub-contractor to provide concrete foundations for theme park rides and other concrete services for amusement parks in the region, choose R.J. Potteiger Construction Services, Inc. We’re committed to quality workmanship and safety — two qualities that are crucial in amusement park construction. For more information on our concrete construction and other professional services, call us today at (717) 697-3192 or contact us online.