Theme park engineering is an exciting, creative, and technical job. Theme park engineers brainstorm ideas, design them, calculate, and develop the amusement park attraction. Rollercoasters and animatronics gain a lot of attention, but theme designing covers other elements of an amusement park as well. For example, accessory and specialty structures are important too.
What Do Theme Park Engineers Do?
“Theme park engineers” is a broad term. Different types of engineers work together to complete theme design projects. Structural engineers, civil engineers, mechanical engineers, and design engineers work together to ensure the ride or attraction is safe and running properly. The right engineering firm will manage the project to make sure all engineers are working cohesively.
Who Needs Theme Park Engineers?
Theme parks large and small need theme park engineers to take their project from concept to completion. While amusement parks keep engineers on staff, they also utilize engineering firms to complete their projects. Most engineering firms are used to adjusting their workflow to meet their client’s needs, becoming a vital part of the team.
Entertainment and Roller Coaster Engineering
Rollercoaster engineering is what most people think about when discussing theme park engineering. They’re the main attraction to most amusement parks. To engineer a rollercoaster and all associated elements actually requires a few different types of engineers. Mechanical engineers typically design the roller coasters and spend a good deal of their time calculating for safety and performance and supervising the construction. Structural engineers are going to ensure the project can withstand elements such as gravity, water, and weather by designing the foundations, trenches, maintenance sheds, and queue buildings.
The rides are not the only engineering jobs for an amusement park though. All amusement parks have additional structures, canopies, roads, and bridges. Amusement parks with animal attractions have additional needs to ensure animal and human safety. Busch Gardens is a stellar example, boasting both animal attractions, coasters, and other rides.
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Florida
Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida originally opened as a zoo with an African theme in 1959 by Busch Entertainment Corporation. The construction for Disney World began in 1967 with the opening of Magic Kingdom in 1971. In 1970, engineer Charles Robertson encouraged the park to add rollercoasters. He helped design the park’s first coasters including The Flume, The Python, and The Scorpion. It’s believed that these additions kept Busch Gardens competitive as more amusement parks opened across Florida.
Now Busch Gardens has over 15 exciting rides, many conceptualized by in-house engineers and brought to life with a team. As discussed before, many amusement parks have in-house engineers, but they will utilize additional engineering firms to ensure top performance and safety. For example, Cheetah Hunt was designed by Busch Gardens park executives. The executives utilized Belt Engineering to engineer the foundations, trenches, new bridge renovations to existing animal enclosures, and the retrofitting of the existing station building for Cheetah Hunt. Belt Engineering (Tampa and Orlando) also worked on the 4D Theater Renovations, Air Grover Rollercoaster, Falcon’s Fury, Iron Gwazi, Penguin House Canopy, Tigris, and Cobra’s Curse.
Every year millions of people flock to amusement parks around the world for entertainment, yet few will think about the engineering required for such entertainment. Whether you are at a zoo watching the animals or standing in line for the latest thrill ride, you can thank an engineer.