Construction Law

Planning and Executing Construction for Theme Parks featured image

Planning and Executing Construction for Theme Parks

Over time, every contractor becomes familiar with a particular type of project. Through experience, dedication, and a little grit, you managed to iron out the wrinkles and nail down a process that was lucrative for your firm while meeting or even surpassing the expectations of your clients. Perhaps you’ve spent years specializing in custom home construction, reaching out to suppliers for high-end materials and subcontractors that account for even the most minute architectural details; or maybe you took over a family operation that helped spread the wealth by building efficient, low-cost shopping plazas that helped local businesses gain access to affordable commercial space.

Regardless of your story and the projects you’ve completed to help build your business, there’s a good chance that you’ve always fantasized about contributing labor and materials to your “dream” project. That could mean being contracted to build a celebrity’s home, constructing government facilities that require high-level security clearance, or even working on theme parks. Of those three examples, theme park construction is arguably the most unconventional and seemingly unattainable type of construction project to secure for your contracting firm.

In this editorial, an Orlando construction attorney at Cotney Construction Law will detail everything you need to know about providing construction work for theme parks. Located less than 30 minutes from some of the most lauded theme parks in the world, like Disney’s Magic Kingdom and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, our Orlando construction attorneys operate in the center of the theme park hub of the United States, which has given us a unique perspective on these jaw-dropping projects.

Establish a Plan and Stick to It

If you’re interested in theme park construction, it’s important to understand a few important precursors before breaking ground. Successful theme park construction relies on sufficient planning and a close attention to detail. As a contractor, you’re likely confident in your ability to execute even the most complex design plans, but to do so, you’ll need help from an experienced architect and/or engineer to put you on the right track.

Concept Development and Feasibility Study: before breaking ground, it’s important to visit the proposed construction site and discuss the owner’s vision. It’s vital that all parties are cognizant of the scope and price of the proposed project. Generally, the owner will have already committed resources to researching potential market support in the area and has strong statistical support to back their project. Contractors should review any available information and decide for themselves whether they feel this is a safe project to work on. After all, you don’t want to deal with nonpayment. Once the concept is developed and a feasibility study greenlighting the project has been published, you can proceed. However, before you sign on, consult our Orlando construction lawyers to review your contract and ensure that your best interests are represented.

Design Charette: the design charrette is a meeting between the owner, designers, and creative team members to further discuss the physical and financial framework of the project. This is essentially a brainstorming session that, depending on the scope of the project (i.e., an entire theme park vs. a single roller coaster), may or may not involve the contractor.

Land Use Plan: usually implements a “bubble diagram,” which accounts for the feasibility study’s physical design specifications. Finalizing a land use plan takes time, as it will need to be readjusted through the project as the site is developed and the concept grows or changes. For example, since theme parks typically have themed “zones,” the land use plan will have to account for the physical geography of these areas and detail what style of architecture will be utilized in each one as well as the attractions that will inhabit them. The land use plan also considers guest capacity and crowd flow and incorporates a circulation plan.

Illustrated Master Plan: an illustration depicting the functional needs and visual themes of the theme park or portion of the theme park being developed. This can help builders visualize how colors will be distributed throughout the park and how themed architecture intends to create a fantastical sense of place.

Aerial Perspective: due to the extensive scope of work inherent to many theme park-related construction projects, it’s important for all parties to get several views of the project including an aerial perspective of the theme park throughout the various stages of construction. A combination of bird’s-eye view photography and individual renderings of smaller areas are essential for keeping all parties on the same page.

Concept Art: concept art depicts the theme park or ride at the ground level. It allows the contractor to understand what the finished product should look like through the eyes of paying customers.

“If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It”

There is virtually no limit to the type and scope of theme park-related construction projects. As Walt Disney once famously stated, “If you can dream it, you can do it,” and this sentiment is still the lifeblood of theme park construction today. When you imagine what a construction project for a theme park entails, you probably conjure images of massive, winding roller coasters built from tubular steel, but this is in fact only a small portion of what constitutes theme park construction.

When Disney is incorporating new construction into Walt Disney World Resort, which encompasses all of Disney’s theme parks, they aren’t just building rides. Just ask any of the attorneys at our Orlando construction law firm — you don’t need to specialize in ride construction or electrical systems to provide construction work for theme parks. You can still be a part of this exciting building niche even without having ever worked on these types of projects. Consider these diverse theme-park related building applications:


  • Attractions: specialized contractors can build roller coasters, pendulums, water rides, drop towers, simulators, swing rides, vertical rides, gravity rides, flat rides, and other types of attractions designed for thrill seekers looking for a high-octane experience unlike any other.


  • Theaters: designing and building theaters for live shows is another way contractors who aren’t specialized in ride construction can lend their services to theme parks. This includes building the structure and outfitting it with the proper equipment including stages, seating, and more.
  • Retailers: consumers will spend a significant portion of their time perusing shops and purchasing branded merchandise from the theme park. Retailers play an important role at theme parks and generate additional revenue apart from ticket sales.
  • Restaurants: building full-service restaurants, cafeteria-style eateries, and even fast-casual diners is another important type of construction found in nearly all theme parks.
  • Hotels: Disney practically invented the “theme park resort” model, which calls for hotels built in close proximity to theme parks to allow patrons to quickly access rides and attractions without an extensive commute.
  • Parks: green spaces for patrons to wander are another important feature of theme parks. These spaces can be housed within the park itself, near hotels, or anywhere in-between.
  • Medical Facilities: while theme parks aren’t required to have a traditional hospital on the premises, they do often feature first aid stations where nurses can provide limited medical services at no charge to patrons. If you have experience in healthcare construction, your services could be useful to a theme park.
  • Entertainment Complexes: many theme parks now feature entertainment complexes, such as Disney Springs and Universal CityWalk, featuring everything from live music venues to restaurants to exclusive shops and more.



Theme park construction is a great way to expand your portfolio of services while working on some of the most unique projects the country has to offer. Knowing that your projects will provide families with a setting to experience the “magic” of theme parks can be an extremely satisfying feeling. Furthermore, you will be presented with an opportunity to push your firm to its creative limits. If you’ve always dreamt about providing construction services to theme parks, consult an Orlando construction law attorney from Cotney Construction Law for assistance with contract review, bid proposals, and trademark applications.

If you would like to speak with an Orlando construction law attorney, please contact us today.


Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.