Theme Park Design and the Art of Themed Entertainment Book Review

Theme Park Design and the Art of Themed Entertainment is the most thorough book on theme park design available. David Younger’s book (not to be confused with Theme Park Design by Steve Alcorn) is literally a textbook on every single aspect of theme parks you could think of, with quotes from real designers with priceless knowledge. Reading Theme Park Design is like taking a college course on the subject. Keep reading for my full Theme Park Design book review.


The Ultimate Theme Park Design Resource

I really liked how Theme Park Design gives specific examples on why certain design decisions are made, whether due to cost or some other consideration you probably hadn’t thought of. I’m a Disney fan and love trying to figure out how their rides work so I didn’t mind the fact that the book is very Disney heavy – probably 90% of the examples used in the book are from Disney parks (including Shanghai), followed by Universal, and then maybe Efteling. My favorite section was probably the explanation of how some of the best effects in the world of theme parks are achieved. 


I also liked how the book dives into some of the business side of operating a theme park, an aspect not often discussed on internet forums. David even discusses minute details, like how wide the paths should be: “Many people do not realize that once theme parks reach a certain threshold in size, the limiting factor for a theme park’s growth is not the number of attractions it can add, but the width of the walkways at the park’s entrance – infrastructure which dates back to the park opening.”


The Downside of Being a Textbook…

None of the following remarks are really meant as criticism, they are more of a heads up to make you aware of just what you’re getting into when you read Theme Park Design and the Art of Theme Entertainment. One big thing to note before you buy is the lack of pictures in the book. I am not joking when I say this is a textbook. While it would be nice to have more images to reference, I can see why none were included, as it would have made a very long book even thicker.

The book references a large number of real life theme park attractions. If you know the ride the author is referring to, this is great and can help you paint a picture in your head. However, if you’re not familiar with the park or attraction, it could be a bit confusing, though it may result in you doing research and finding out something new, like when I read about Villa Volta at Efteling. I immediately had to YouTube this unique ride I had never heard of before and was glad that I did.


I would consider myself a relatively avid reader, on average consuming at least one book per month in addition to all the blogs I read. That said, it took me probably five months to get all the way through this book. It is not easy to sit down and read much at one time, and some sections were especially very dry.

Theme Park Design Video Review

If you want to see me flip through some of the book, here’s my video review:

Theme Park Design Book Review Summary


If your ultimate career goal is to design theme parks then this book is a must read. Just by reading this book you’ll have a huge head start over anyone who hasn’t read it. If you’re a fan of theme parks or want to know more about how they work and the thought process that goes into their creation, I recommend putting Theme Park Design and the Art of Themed Entertainment on your holiday wishlist.