Book Cover

Want to design a theme park?Over the past century, theme parks have created worlds where pirates still loot Caribbean towns, where daring adventurers explore booby-trapped temples, and where superheroes swing from New York skyscrapers - and allowed us to step into them too. This is a book about how to design those fantastic places, and the ingenuity that goes into their creation.

This is a handbook for the practicing designer, a textbook for the aspiring student, and a behind the scenes guidebook for the theme park fan, building on hundreds of interviews with accomplished designers from Walt Disney Imagineering, Universal Creative, Merlin Entertainments, and more. Theme Park Design & The Art of Themed Entertainment explores everything from the stories, themes, and characters that theme parks bring to life, to the business models, processes, and techniques that allow them to do it.

From rocket ships to roller coasters, fairy tales to fireworks shows, and dinosaurs to dark rides - never before has a book dived so deep into the art form of themed entertainment.

Written by David Younger
Foreword by Tony Baxter, Afterword by Joe Rohde

And introducing the Theme Park Design Book Series: an ongoing series of scholarly publications by experts in their field

“And now, a carriage approaches, to take you into the boundless realm of the supernatural…”

Since its opening at Walt Disney World in 1971, more people from more places have experienced The Haunted Mansion than perhaps any piece of horror media ever created. This ride has legions of devoted fans and influenced tributes, spinoffs and an entire entertainment genre: the seasonal haunted house. Why is this?

Boundless Realm is a wry tour of the creaky old house on the hill, brushing aside cobwebs, uncovering obscure corners, and prying up the floorboards in search of the answer. Not just an attraction history, this critical appreciation - written with a connoisseur’s eye for detail - encompasses American history, popular culture and folklore, and a sharp understanding of design to make a case for The Haunted Mansion as the 20th century’s definitive haunted house. Entertaining and opinionated, Boundless Realm will give you a new appreciation for Disney’s ultimate cult attraction.

Written by Foxx Nolte
Foreword by Jeff Kurtti

Book Cover




“This is the most thorough book on theme park design I have ever seen. One that quotes real designers with priceless knowledge.”

“This book captures in one document the greatest collection of turning points, philosophies, and ground rules that have sprung to life since the birth of the theme park. I can’t imagine a person contemplating a role in themed entertainment not coming out of this immersive experience inside David Younger’s mind without the equivalent of a Master’s Degree in the psychology of the themed experience.”

“What a fantastic, very comprehensive, book. I’m a forty year veteran of the themed entertainment industry and I still learned a few things! I would recommend this to aspiring theme park designers, and to my colleagues as well.”

Peter Alexander

Lead Designer
Universal Studios Florida

Tony Baxter

Lead Designer
Disneyland Paris

Jon Binkowski

Lead Designer
Hard Rock Park

“It's the kind of book our young industry has never really had before - equal parts academic, celebratory, and archival, with the Herculean and noble goal of trying to summarize and quantify a half-century sprawl of disparate, disconnected design techniques, achieving it admirably.”

“The most comprehensive book in experiential design! David Younger’s in-depth research and collection of comments from the most influential theme park designers in the world will make this book the gold standard for the themed design industry.”

“An invaluable reference for both the practicing designer and for anyone who wants to learn this art form.”

Dave Cobb

Lead Designer
Men in Black: Alien Attack
(Universal Studios Florida, 2000)

Tim Delaney

Lead Designer
Space Mountain: De la Terre a la Lune
(Disneyland Paris, 1995)

Anthony Esparza

Chief Creative Officer
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

“You have in your hands David Younger's Theme Park Design, a colossal compendium of the best guidance that has been collected from the best in the business. Theme Park Design covers all the bases. I speak from experience. I'm one of Walt Disney's original eighteen 1954 Imagineers. We started the whole theme park industry, an unending trial and error saga. All the hard earned lessons of the past sixty years are now offered in Theme Park Design to guide YOU.”

“A comprehensive textbook that codifies theme park design in a way that no single book has achieved before it.”

“David Younger has distilled the theme park design and production process from a vast cloud of pixie dust into a thoroughly-researched and incredibly detailed account of how dreams are made. It’s the perfect balance of pull-back-the-curtain magic and intelligent discussion of theme parks from concept to completion.”

Bob Gurr

Lead Designer
Disneyland Monorail
(Disneyland, 1959)

Craig Hanna

Chief Creative Officer
The Thinkwell Group

Garner Holt

Chief Executive Officer
Garner Holt Productions

"David Younger has created one of the finest studies of the themed entertainment industry ever attempted. It is a comprehensive and thoughtful analysis of every aspect of this most complex design discipline from the micro to the macro levels without once becoming heavy handed. Congratulations on providing both the novice and the grizzled veteran with this wonderful compendium!

“I have never seen such an exhaustive, thoroughly researched treatment of this subject, anywhere; well organized and extremely readable. If I were teaching a course in theme park theory and design, I would want this as my standard text.”

“Authoritative, entertaining, and fascinating, Theme Park Design is a themed entertainment aficionado’s dream. David Younger has created a one-of-a-kind work that is both a scrupulously researched reference and a jolly good read; an excellent encyclopedia on its subject, and a 'bathtub book’ one can open to any page and have a wonderful time exploring.”

Steve Kirk

Lead Designer
Tokyo DisneySea

Tim Kirk

Lead Designer
Muppet*Vision 3D
(Disney's Hollywood Studios, 1991)

Jeff Kurtti

Lead Designer
The Walt Disney Family Museum

“Probably the most comprehensive summation of themed design committed to print. David Younger has really pulled it all together, in one very readable package.”

Theme Park Design is an amazing compendium of theme park and themed entertainment knowledge. This book covers the who, what, where, and why of creating themed entertainment projects and includes personal insights from the top thought leaders and designers who have shaped the theme park industry over the last sixty years. This is a must read for anyone interested in this highly creative and technical industry.”

“This is a seminal tome for our industry. David Younger has compiled and made sense of the incredibly wide range of work and art that our industry has produced. With clear affection, but intelligent discrimination, he examines the successes and failures that have already evolved in the short history of the art form. Many of the issues he tackles have come again and again in my career, and he provides a wonderful compendium of diverse perspectives. I read it with constant fascination.”

Joe Lanzisero

Lead Designer
Disney Dream
(Disney Cruise Line, 2011)

Monte Lunde

Themed Entertainment Association

Luc Mayrand

Lead Designer
Treasure Cove
(Shanghai Disneyland, 2016)

"David Younger has created an essential document for those wishing to have a deeper understanding of the theme park industry. Filled with indispensable quotes from industry luminaries, it provides both the layman and the professional with an excellent resource on how theme park attractions are imagined and brought to fruition."

“The art of theme park design involves more alchemy than it does art or science, and much of the secret sauce resides behind the obvious surface. Perhaps that’s why so little has been written about the subject, let alone anything of practical value. David Younger’s book is the first to break down many of these illusive and temporal theories into distinct, understandable, and enlightening observations.”

A great resource! This extensive, well-written guide should be on the desk of any person who wants to understand the business, art, and science of theme parks. Whether you’re new to the themed entertainment industry or an old pro, you’ll find this handy reference an indispensable guide.”

Chris Merritt

Lead Designer
Far Far Away
(Universal Studios Singapore, 2010)

Tom Morris

Lead Designer
Hong Kong Disneyland

Paul Osterhout

Lead Designer
Walt Disney Studios

“Expertise is real, and, at least in part, quantifiable, as David Younger’s magnum opus demonstrates. By amassing the communal knowledge of this disparate and diverse group into a single opus, David Younger has provided us all with a landmark in our intellectual space.”

“David Younger has pulled together an engaging anthology of theme park design information that is vast in its levels of detail and well worth exploring. His book acts much like an Epcot pavilion, providing a grand doorway through which the interested reader can pass to gain insight on a plethora of subject matter, provoked to dig deeper and learn more about the complexities of our industry and the design process by which it is continually enriched.”

“David Younger has pulled together an engaging anthology of theme park design information that is vast in its levels of detail and well worth exploring. His book acts much like an Epcot pavilion, providing a grand doorway through which the interested reader can pass to gain insight on a plethora of subject matter, provoked to dig deeper and learn more about the complexities of our industry and the design process by which it is continually enriched.”

Joe Rohde

Lead Designer
Disney's Animal Kingdom

Rick Rothschild

Lead Designer
The American Adventure
(Epcot, 1982)

Bob Shreve

Lead Designer
Jurassic Park
(Universal's Islands of Adventure, 1999)

“Walt Disney said it’s fun to do the impossible. David Younger has done just that by capturing an entire industry between two covers. If you want to be a theme park designer, or just love the history and inside jargon, this book is a labor of love - an E Ticket!”

Theme Park Design is an exhaustive, in-depth exploration of storytelling in three dimensions. Featured are the words of the creators of this unique art form, as well as David Younger’s well-informed analysis of the history, the business, and the process of creating themed entertainment. The scale and scope of the book is totally unprecedented. For a serious fan, student, or employee, here is the complete story, a real deep dive into the Art of the Show. Indispensable.”

“In this insightful book, David Younger burrows into the theme park industry in an intelligent and thorough way, analyzing it from the perspective many of us take for granted and never bother to articulate. This book will become the definitive work to guide theme park designers.”

Eddie Sotto

Lead Designer
Main Street, U.S.A.
(Disneyland Paris, 1992)

Michael Sprout

Lead Designer
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (Disney's Hollywood Studios, 1994)

John Wardley

Lead Designer
(Alton Towers, 1994)



Theme Park Design & The Art of Themed Entertainment is the most in-depth book on theme park design ever written! Across almost six hundred pages, the book explores every aspect of theme park design, filled with more than two thousand quotes from accomplished theme park designers and commentators, and pulling together knowledge from more sixty years of theme park design.

The book draws from both historical and brand new interviews with designers from Walt Disney Imagineering, Universal Studios, Merlin Entertainments, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, and many others. More than just Hub & Spokes, Forced Perspective, and Wienies, Theme Park Design & The Art of Themed Entertainment dives into every piece of information a themed designer needs to know to create amazing worlds, explaining vital concepts such as story design, set design, layout design, shop design, roller coaster design, fireworks design, character design, lighting design, flat ride design, and much, much more.


Chapter 1: Medium defines what themed design, themed entertainment, and theme parks are, exploring their history, their product, and the reasons designers choose to theme their work.

Chapter 2: Business explores the business model of the themed entertainment industry, with the view that to design a good themed attraction is to design something that can be financially sustained.

Chapter 3: Process describes the full design process for a themed project from blue sky design to post-opening, and the individuals involved at each stage.

Chapter 4: Theme explores the difference between the manifestation theme and dramatic theme, and physical theming itself: its styles, its content, and its use across the different scales of design.

Chapter 5: Story looks at crafting a story for the themed experience: incorporating the guest as a character, structuring the experience, incorporating content, adapting Intellectual Property, writing, and the story techniques used to communicate with guests.

Chapter 6: Design defines the techniques that apply to themed design regardless of scale, from the styles of theme park design that are dominant, to techniques such as Forced Perspective, Intrusions, and Doubly Duty, alongside a number of key design disciplines including media design, propping, and illusioneering.

Chapter 7: Theme Park Design looks at the widest scale of themed design: theme park archetypes, park layouts, how to coordinate an effective attraction mix, and exploring park-wide concepts such as employees, marketing, and park maps.

Chapter 8: Land Design focuses on designing a themed area containing multiple stories: land layouts, transition zones, designing the landscape and buildings, and what goes in them, including restaurants, shops, and restrooms. It also include shows, parades, fireworks, and other spectaculars.

Chapter 9: Attraction Design explores the design of singular story experiences, beginning with their ride type and ride system (including specific looks at roller coaster design, simulator design, and more) and carrying on into attraction layout, ride vehicles, show scene design, and more.



Theme Park Design & The Art of Themed Entertainment can be purchased through this website, through Amazon, and through book stores. All purchases of the book through this website come with free shipping to the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Europe. Shipping to addresses outside these regions may require an additional shipping fee.

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About the Author

David Younger was born in Durham, England, and was introduced to theme parks with the opening of Disneyland Paris in 1992. Theme Park Design & The Art of Themed Entertainment was written while undertaking the world's first ever Art & Design PhD research project into the creative techniques of theme park design, incorporating experience as a Creative Designer at Walt Disney Imagineering in Glendale, California. David has additionally served an elected two year term on the International Board of Directors of the Themed Entertainment Association.


Copyright 2016 & 2020 David Younger

The book is not associated with The Walt Disney Company, Universal Studios, Merlin Entertainments, or any other company mentioned within it.
The opinions of interviewees, quotees, and endorsers are those of the individual and are not necessarily shared by any employer, past or present.