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Theme Park Apprentice 5: The Rules

The rules and overview for this season

From Tim W
Posted May 11, 2013 at 6:23 PM
The wait is over Theme Park Insiders. This summer, Theme Park Apprentice returns where it will continue its annual spot starting in June. The year we have a few new twists as we head into this year’s Theme Park Apprentice. For Theme Park Apprentice 5, we have a new challenge format. This format will include initially identifying a theme for a final theme park. The following challenges will be comprised of creating a number of theme park proposals that will all have to be used within the final theme park.

For those of you who are new to TPA, let me give you a bit of an explanation. Theme Park Apprentice, or TPA as we often to refer to it, is a takeoff on the Apprentice show for amateur theme park and ride designers. Every week you are given a challenge that requires you to design an attraction, hotel, restaurant, land, or entire park. The ideas are reviewed, and every week one or two people are eliminated until we have a champion.

We are continuing with the rules from last season that is based off of the mechanism that American Idol uses to bounce singers off their show, using a three panel judge and a bottom 3-4 people who everyone on the site votes to either save or get rid of. The judging panel consists of our longtime game admin and founder Tim W, former champion James Koehl, and longtime contestant and “The Next Walt Disney” moderator, Andrew Milito.

New to this season will be an audition phase, where each contestant will submit a short overview and the theming for a final theme park design. The judging panel will then select a group of contestants who will compete in this season based on writing and creativity. The audition phase will also help to determine an amount of challenges to include within the competition, as well as selecting the best contestants to make this season great!

Before we get bogged down in an explanation of the rules, I want to make a simple point that might encourage everyone to play who is interested: during TPA4, someone who had never played before won the whole thing. All you need to win is a couple of good ideas, the ability to create on the fly, a nice easily readable writing style, and the desire to have fun. Since there are no prizes, if you are not having fun, we are doing something wrong.

One returning mechanism is giving the competitors a two week time frame to work on each challenge proposal. We are keeping this rule in order to give people a little more flexibility around summer vacations. You will not be allowed to post until after the voting has completed for the previous round, but you will be able to work ahead.

Any violations that we may see of these rules will be a strong warning at first enclosed in a confidential email. If a rule is broken, we as the judges reserve the right to automatically place you in the bottom 3, regardless of the proposal that has been submitted. Continuous and repetitive actions will result in automatic grounds for expulsion of competing and being acknowledged in any other Theme Park Apprentice, or related competition that may be held.


The Rules
1. Grammar counts. If we can’t read what you have written, it becomes next to impossible to get a good idea of what the attraction is about. We all understand that misspelling crop up (I’m sure there are several in this introduction article) but please do your best to make it as readable as possible. It is a shame for a really good idea to be hidden under an avalanche of fragmented sentences, bad grammar, bad spelling, and fragmented ideas. Use a spell checker and a grammar checker. If you don’t have one, go and download OpenOffice for free and build your ideas in their word processer program.

2. Deadlines count. If you can’t get something in on time, please let us know and we will attempt to work with you. The extra time to work on each idea should make this less of an issue, but we all understand that nothing squeezes creativity out of a brain like a looming deadline. While the judges are allow to make the determination of what kind of penalty is assessed based on circumstances, think of it as the old school model of losing a letter grade or more for late work.

3. Creativity counts. The challenges have been designed to give you a wide variety of directions to go with a challenge. If we get three attractions that use the same characters and one that doesn’t, the one odd duck will be much more memorable when it comes time to vote. If you come up with an idea so obvious that you think everyone else probably will to, you are probably correct. In such a case it might be a good idea to see if you can come up with a second theme. Although we also understand that a spectacular attraction is going to be spectacular even if it uses the most obvious theme.

4. The judges' rulings are final. And since they make the determination of who gets placement in the bottom vote, it might not be a good idea to argue with or upset them. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t play to your audience a bit as well. Every Sunday, the judges will write critiques and order all of the contestants from best to worst with the bottom 3 or 4 getting submitted for an elimination vote.

5. Elimination Vote. After the judges make the determination as to what submissions did not make the grade, a site wide vote will take place. If there are 3 submissions in the vote, the contestant with the fewest votes is eliminated from the competition. If there are 4 submissions in the vote, the 2 contestants with the fewest votes will be eliminated.

6. Add-Ons: Pictures. While pictures are not an official requirement, it might be a good idea to approach it as if they were, since it has been a long time since someone did really well without at least some pictures. We will be posting some documentation talking about the best way to go about posting pictures, so don’t worry too much about the mechanics of it. Most people don’t create the images themselves and merely find images on the internet through various search engines. I would ask people to not post stick figures or anything other than images of the highest quality as they may negatively impact the rest of your posting. There is a limit of 5 pictures per post, unless otherwise noted. Pictures need to be limited down to a 500 width in order to keep it within the column structure of TPI.

7. Add-Ons: Title Logo and Footer. This is not an official requirement, much like putting any pictures into your post is not a requirement, but it is something that many contestants like to do to further fill out their idea. You are allowed a title picture before your posting and a footer picture after your posting in addition to the 5 pictures in the middle of the post. All pictures need to be limited down to a 500 width to keep in the column structure of TPI.

8. If you need help, please ask for it. With three judges, we should be able to respond very quickly to any inquiries, issues, problems, or calls for assistance. We understand that posting is sometimes difficult, but we have some very good tips to hopefully get around those issues. If you need help with creating logos or posting pictures, please ask.

9. Unless otherwise specified in a challenge, videos and music are not allowed in posts.

10. The schedule. All posts will be due on Saturday night at midnight website time. The judges will do their work on Sunday, and the elimination vote will take place on Monday. Since everyone will already have the next week’s assignment, it should not prevent you from making progress on the next week’s submission. You will receive the one week in advance challenge sometime over the weekend as we finalize it.

11. Under no circumstances will we tolerate criticism, attacks, bad mouthing, or chaos in general. If any behavior is deemed detrimental to the game or the spirit of the game, such people will be dismissed from the competition without reason or recourse. We hate to have to include a rule like this, but trust us, this protects you as much as it protects us and the integrity of the game.

12. These rules are subject to change. If something is not working we are going to fix so it does.

For further research, please take the time to do a TPI search and read some of the past posts and cross reference them with who won a particular round. Reading the comments is also extremely helpful.

The auditions will begin next week. If you have any questions please post below.

Welcome to Theme Park Apprentice and Good Luck!


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From Dominick D
Posted May 11, 2013 at 8:18 PM
Quick question, when you said auditions did you mean sign ups? Either way, I can't wait to play again!

From James Koehl
Posted May 11, 2013 at 8:40 PM
We are still working on some of the fine details of the rules, etc. Feel free to post your questions and we will get them answered ASAP. Dominick, in my opinion, you can post your intention to participate, but until you actually post your "audition proposal" it won't really mean much. You can say you want to participate, but until you post your audition that won't count. You can also post your audition proposal without giving any advanced notice. Either way, no audition proposal, no participation.

From Dominick D
Posted May 11, 2013 at 9:06 PM
Sounds good to me, since last year there were a bunch of people who signed up but didn't post.

From Andrew Dougherty
Posted May 11, 2013 at 9:21 PM
Seems interesting, I might give it a go.

From Tyler Harris
Posted May 12, 2013 at 4:52 AM
I already posted an idea for the auditions. Look at them if you want to see a teaser.

From Matt Babiak
Posted May 13, 2013 at 11:54 AM
Are there going to be heavy cuts in the audition phase? I want to know how much detail I need. I don't want to be cut first second because I wasn't sure of the requirements. Also, will this season all have challenges revolving around 1 park idea, and the ride, hotel, etc. we design are all cumulative?

This discussion has been archived, and is not accepting additional responses.

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