Theme Park Apprentice 8: Chatter Thread

May 16, 2016, 2:16 PM

This thread is the place to post any general discussion related to Theme Park Apprentice 8, including general questions about the competition, responses to the judges critiques, and comments about other competitors' proposals. This thread is open to anyone participating in the competition in any way, even if you are only a spectator. Do NOT post challenge proposals in this thread or they will not be critiqued and scored by the judges.

Replies (38)

May 16, 2016, 3:34 PM

Welcome contestants new and old!

Looking forward to developing Flashback. Until Sunday it didn't exist as any more than just a general idea that I'd been throwing around in my head.

I was hoping to do a pure "all retro" park, but I figured that probably wouldn't get me much further than the Atlantic Boardwalk zone. Hopefully I can stay viable long enough to come up with something amazing.

May 16, 2016, 6:43 PM

I'm still fairly new to TPI and read more than I post. I have to say, Chad came out swinging for the fences on his. I am really impressed and can't wait to see what other ideas come out. Way to set the bar high Chad.

Edited: May 18, 2016, 3:09 AM

If I can give some advice to fellow competitors, as ex winner and ex judge

1: remember the real world.

In the more real, I was as a judge immediately suspicious of anyone suggesting a third gate at Disneyland CA, where are you going to put it? What about parking, space is short. The competitors were able to convince me their parks were viable by showing me exactly where their park fits, and where the cars were going to go. With objection satisfied we can move on.

It can also make it better. I half remember a dinosaur related challenge to add a dinosaur related land to one of a choice of existing parks. I spotted a reservoir pond for the water slides that could be spun as a seperate world, and a nearby coaster that could be the source of a disturbance that created a portal into that dinosaur world.

I have gone overboard in the real world part of my intro challenge, but telling you where it is is key to understanding what it is

2. Read the judges comments.

Pay attention to all of their critiques and learn from that what they like and don't like, write to that. If one judge likes mechanical and engineering points, be sure to include some. If one judge sees engineering problems as for the engineering department and just cares about story, include it. If someone says "why didn't you include X", even if they're not saying it to you, include X.

3. Images are not optional, but they're not always required.

Images help explain your idea, if your building has a special shape (like my monkey themed hotel designed to evoke a treetop canopy) draw it - even if you're bad at it like me, do it. It not only explains it better, it helps you write about it better when you can see it.

However, there's no need to go crazy. If an idea stands on its own, you don't have to include one. We know what a steak looks like, so don't do an image of a steak to illustrate your steakhouse. Maybe show some decour instead?

4. Read, and retread the previous games.

If you follow this advice, you'll already be ahead of most. You'll see by the end most follow a similar format - because it works. Pick a challenge at random and write your own response, in the same style. Don't do what I did in my first one and try and write some in character narrative; make it a professional presentation - like a sales brochure , not a message to a friend.

May 17, 2016, 6:04 PM

Howdy y’all! I’m gonna follow up what Chad said. I too am an ex-winner, though I have yet to judge, so this is just from a competitor’s perspective.

First, as Chad stated, (re)read the old competitions. TPA5 and TPA6.1 are especially noteworthy, for they followed the same cumulative format as this season. See what works. See what’s been done. Get inspiration. And get a feeling for what our judges like. I’m not saying write specifically to their tastes – they’re evenhanded enough you won’t have to – but learn the proper tone and format and such.

TPA’s main conceit is that we’re presenting professional proposals to like a theme park board of directors, so write accordingly. Make it fun, but not sloppy. Avoid negatives when describing your park; if your park is low budget, spin that into a positive. If you’re having trouble with HTML or posting pics, search our boards for past advice. (AJ, maybe you could repost some technical advice here?)

Research, research, research! Watch ride POVs. Learn what you can via the internet about parks outside of CaliFlorida. And research beyond the theme park world. The next great attraction concept could come from Broadway, or museums, or automobile manufacturing, or someplace else entirely. As for your chosen theme, become the world’s greatest expert on that subject. A seemingly limited topic could yield abundant fruit when probed deeply.

Plan ahead! Think about the upcoming challenges now. Find and store beautiful images pertaining to your theme. Start prepping your park in advance – I started doing serious thought and design for DisneySky over a month before TPA7’s final round began. And try to anticipate what your competitors will do. This won’t work as chiefly as in TPA7, where we all jockeyed for different Universal IPs in a single round, but if like 5 competitors do trackless roller coasters, consider doing something else.

Disney is not a shortcut to quality! They have the most awesome resources in the industry, with tech and IP, but there are also definite expectations which come from working within the brand. Had 2001 era DCA been made by Six Flags, we’d’ve sung their praises to the hills, but coming from Disney it felt out-of-character. But do not fear Disney either. A brilliant Disney park cannot be beat!

And finally, have fun! If your park excites you, you’ll be pondering it on your commute and in your shower and while skydiving. You’ll see random things around town which provide inspiration. For me last year, TPA was a tremendous emotional salve following tragedy. Other past competitors tell me it’s had a similar effect for them.

I’m really looking forward to this season! I cannot wait to premiere my concept, and see everyone else’s!

Edited: May 17, 2016, 7:57 PM


As a former judge and former winner before any of these other guys were former judges or former winners, I have a little advice here as well.

Who do you think is smarter than you?

You don't need this advice because you are smarter than any of these guys in this game. No plausible way to build or pay for your excessively bloated or unrealistic idea? No problem. The fact that you came up with the idea just shows how behind the times everyone else is.

I mean really, who needs a spell checker or to form coherent thoughts? Not you, that is for people who are on the bubble with poorly thought out and boring ideas. Your idea is the best. The judges should be able to figure it out on their own. You should be able to say "floating roller coaster" or some such thing and then drop the microphone and walk out of the room. To heck with trying to explain it to the morons who aren't down with your brand of massive intellect.

What is genius? Staying away from the norms and doing it different. And your stuff is so good it doesn't have to conform with anything. You think Einstein had to put pictures in his proposal? Not a chance. You think Edison had to work to a deadline? No way.

You know best. Do what you want to do. Let the awesomeness speak for itself.

Edited: May 17, 2016, 9:27 PM

As a former winner and a current judge, I'll suggest that if you are new to this competition and you find advice from a veteran, don't brush it off and think you automatically know better. I also highly recommend digging up some past proposals from previous seasons and reading through them to get a feel of what was generally a good idea and what was maybe not such a good idea. That said, I suggest you avoid trying to directly imitate others and put your own style into your proposal. Don't assume that just because everyone is doing something it means you should as well. Your proposal should be first and foremost what you want to present, not what you think the judges want you to present. Look at the challenge requirements, make sure everything is addressed, and then just create what feels right to you.

Last season, I wrote a beginner's guide to the competition. For those interested, you can read through it here. While a few sections of it are no longer relevant (mainly the challenge schedule and a few of the rules that have changed), many of the writing tips still hold true. For convenience, I'll also reproduce a couple of the likely referenced sections here:

Use Visuals Appropriately

While inserting images into your proposals is not a requirement, a well placed picture can aid tremendously with illustrating your concept. If you choose to insert images, be certain that they are valuable and are not simply a filler. There is no need to use more images than you need, and an irrelevant graphic can hurt your proposal.

How to Insert Images and Video

Images: Images should be uploaded to a photo hosting service (I recommend Flickr, but any will work). Once uploaded, by clicking on share you should be able to get a HTML embed code that will allow you to post the image. Simply copy this code and insert it in your proposal at the appropriate spot. Please note that images can be no wider than 560 pixels, so either shrink the image before uploading or use tools provided on the site to do so.

Video: A similar method is used for videos. On YouTube, clicking the share option under a video will give you a HTML embed code. This code just needs to be copied and pasted into your proposal to get the video to appear. However, please verify that the section in code labeled “width” is set to 560 or lower (if it’s not, just change the number).

Formatting Proposals

Proposals should not be one giant paragraph and should be broken up into sections. Each section should be announced by a clear header and should focus on only that element of your proposal. You may decide what method of division is best based on each individual challenge. If in doubt, look at the bulleted list of requirements for the challenge and make each one a section. Some sections (such as a description of various attractions in a land) may benefit from being divided into sub-sections.

Helpful Formatting Tags

To use the following tags, simply delete the asterisks and replace the text with your writing.

<*b>text here<*/b> = Bold text

<*i>text here<*/i> = Italic text

<*u>text here<*/u> = Underlined text

<*font size=#>text here = Larger/Smaller text (depending on #)

<*a href=”website address”>text here<*/a> = Hyperlink

Lastly, don't be intimidated by other competitors. As I mentioned before, most of the time it is a new competitor that wins this competition. You don't need an extremely flashy 10 page proposal to stand a fighting chance in a challenge...sometimes a simple 3 page proposal is all that is necessary. All it takes is a good idea with a good pitch to go along with it.

Edited: May 18, 2016, 4:25 AM

Are we allowing video this year? If So, Sweet. Sometimes when I write a proposal I have a song in my head, and I kinda feel that my propsals lack part of their... "ambiance" when I can't include it.

"Unplugged: Acoustic Cuisine" that was done for the Hard Rock Hotel comes to mind.. I can't think of that proposal without the guitar from Classical Gas jumping in my head.

May 18, 2016, 7:32 AM

I guess I'll hop on the bandwagon and give some advice too.

I don't have much to say, but what I know, is that if you have fun writing it, the judges will enjoy reading it. I did my best work, and had the most fun, with my Monty Python land for Universal Orlando. I enjoyed writing it, and it showed. It was a little atypical for the challenge. As an "immersive land" it referenced itself as in a theme park. Maybe th@ was bad writing. But it made sense with the IP.

That's something else. Its okay to stray from the path if it really matches your IP.

Don't be afraid of humor! Frankly, it's something the theme park industry hasn't quite mastered yet. And something it needs. Its a relief from a full day of running from ride to ride, and usually a welcome one.

Those are my words of wisdom. I hope they help you!

Edited: May 18, 2016, 10:32 AM

Yes, Chad, this season we're allowing one video per proposal. It can be a "video" video or an "audio" video. Just make sure your selection is sensible and not one of those "extended" versions of a song that just plays the same thing on loop for 20+ minutes.

May 20, 2016, 12:47 PM

I hope we get some more entries soon, I'm worried I've scared everyone off.

May 20, 2016, 1:45 PM

I would think we'll start seeing some entries this weekend (including mine). It could be that Flashback's quality caused some competitors to take this time to flesh their ideas out a bit, to match yours. Chad H, raising the bar!

May 20, 2016, 2:36 PM

I wouldn't worry too much yet. If I remember right, last time we did the cumulative format we had a couple people enter early but most of the entries were in the second half of the entry period. My guess is that people are just taking time to add detail to their proposals as the average proposal quality has pretty much tripled in the past couple years. If we only have 4-5 submissions by this time next week, then I would start worrying.

May 21, 2016, 11:04 AM

*looks up*

Damn, someone knocked me off my perch...

May 21, 2016, 11:04 AM

*looks up*

Damn, someone knocked me off my perch...

May 25, 2016, 6:21 PM

Things have been hush hush around here for too long. Chad and Christopher, I really dig both of your parks, and I truly hope to see them get a chance to grow and develop. I'd also love to share what I have planned for Buyan Park. It isn't about the competition; it's about the shared creativity, and about exploring the possibilities of the theme park medium!

Plenty of other people indicated an interest in participating. By now, I have no idea if anyone else still intends to do so. Perhaps as a courtesy to Chad, Christopher, and myself (and our judges and silent readers), please let us know! A simple "Yes, I'm making a proposal" or "No, Chad's park frightens me." In advance, much obliged.

May 25, 2016, 8:13 PM

I would love to participate, but I'm really busy right now with finals, so I don't think I'd get a proposal done in time.

Edited: May 25, 2016, 10:29 PM

I agree with Douglas...for how much interest there was initially in this competition, it has been unnaturally quiet. Therefore, I am going to ask that everyone interested in this competition do the following:

-If you intend to submit a proposal by the deadline, please let us know here. It would be incredibly helpful to know if we'll have enough competitors as soon as possible in order to take appropriate action.

-If you are interested in the competition but for whatever reason do not currently plan on entering, please let us know why. If it is reasonable, we will work with everyone to allow as many participants as possible.

-If you were interested but no longer are, please let us know what scared you away. It is more important for us to run a competition that competitors will enjoy than to force an unpopular choice on everyone, and the earlier we can make changes the better it will be.

We really want to hold this competition, but we cannot do so without the participation of competitors. If there are changes that we could make that would allow you to compete, please let us know and we will look into it. If several people want to compete but are finishing something right now and will be much more available in a couple weeks, we will consider moving the schedule to better accommodate everyone. If several people want to complete but truly believe they don't stand a chance against Chad, Christopher, and Douglas, we may look into altering the format for maximum enjoyment. If there are enough people interested, but not quite enough to run the season as originally intended, we will make tweaks as needed. The last thing we want to do is cancel a competition, but we also cannot run it with only three competitors.

Please, if you are interested in participating in this game, let us know and tell us what is holding you back. If you really don't want to post about it publicly, email me ( and we'll keep it between you and the three judges. I don't want to sound overly dramatic, but the future of this competition is really in the hands of the potential competitors right now. If we don't have the support to run the competition or any input on how to make it work, there is relatively little we can do.

May 26, 2016, 12:13 AM

I'm currently working on a proposal. I'm not sure if it'll be as high of quality as the others posted, but I'll try my best.

May 26, 2016, 6:37 AM

I was interested but I have finals coming up so I don't have much time.

May 26, 2016, 9:56 AM

Jaiden, your original proposal does not need to be nearly as detailed or fleshed out as some. As your park evolves through the competition you can make changes. In TPA 6.1 my first proposal was honestly pretty lame but I worked on it, fine tuned it and ended up in the finals. If your exams allow you to put together a basic proposal, then after school is out you have more time, then give it a try.

May 26, 2016, 1:43 PM

Like James said, don't stress out and get overly perfectionist in the entry round. We are looking for a rough outline, not a final park presentation. Give us a paragraph about your park, a paragraph about each themed area, and a paragraph to tie everything together, and you should be good to go. We will critique you and give you advice for future growth, but this is not an audition and everyone who submits will get to compete.

I've seen several people mention that they want to compete but finals are getting in the way. To those people (and anyone else with date conflicts), would it be helpful if we pushed everything back a week or two? If so, we will seriously consider that so that everyone who wants to compete can compete. Also, if anyone who has already entered would have an objection to such a change, let us know as well.

May 27, 2016, 4:16 AM

I'm happy for another week or two to be given.

May 27, 2016, 4:29 AM

Hi, I just wanted to say, I am also working on a concept for TPA 8.

May 27, 2016, 4:39 AM

^all right!!! We need some new, young ideas in this competition. Enough of the old guys like D. Hindley and Chad H and James Koe...uh, wait a minute. I'm not competing, under any name. Really, glad to hear you're working on a concept! Have fun with it!

May 27, 2016, 10:58 AM

Hey everyone! I'm totally new here, and I just discovered this game, but I'd like to give it a try. I could try to have a proposal ready by tomorrow (just started working on it!), but the extra week could really help me out. Thanks.

Edited: May 27, 2016, 3:09 PM

America the Beautiful is, well, it's beautiful! There is a whole, whole lot of potential in this idea. I am especially fond of Yosemite Valley Fire Patrol, speaking as someone who used to fight wildfires in California. This would already be my favorite shooter ride of all time.

And I googled a "haint." That's an old Southern term for ghosts. Very cool!

Edited to add that it's nice to see a true American concept to act as a foil to my degenerate Russian park.

Edited: May 27, 2016, 4:40 PM

So we have an American Park, a Russian Park, and a park that puts Britain on Parade in its opening area...

Remind me next year to propose the United Nations Waterpark...

May 27, 2016, 4:53 PM

I just posted the announcement in the challenge thread, but I'll post here as well to make sure everyone sees it. Since several people have indicated interest but have a temporary schedule conflict at the moment (mostly final exams) and since there have only been 4 entries so far, we've decided to extend the entry round for an additional week. You now have until June 4th to submit a park outline and enter the competition. I hope this will help people who were on the fence about competing due to schedules and I look forward to seeing more park concepts. We've already got 4 great submissions and I'd like to see at least 4 more.

Chad, you might want to keep that idea in mind for Water Park Apprentice 2. Not saying anything is confirmed, but there's been some interest in the idea and the highest profile waterpark in years is opening next year, so you never know...

May 28, 2016, 10:45 AM

Damnit, what started as "The sillies Idea I could think of" is now beginning to fester in my brain as a possible idea...

June 1, 2016, 10:51 AM

Are we still doing this thing?! 'Cause I got a big batch of Russian books in the mail and I'm ready to show off my new found knowledge concerning fairy tales & goulash!

June 3, 2016, 4:45 PM

Last Call for Entries! Anyone wishing to compete in Theme Park Apprentice 8 needs to submit their entry proposal by midnight tomorrow. This competition will proceed either way, with an alternate format put in place if there are not enough submissions to run the competition as originally planned. Once again, if you plan to compete get your entry posted ASAP as late submissions will not be accepted.

June 5, 2016, 4:18 AM

All right! This is going to be a competition for the ages! First of all, as a former judge and competitor, I would strongly suggest to the judges that Mr. Eisner's proposal, based on it's obvious over-the-top magnificent quality, be removed from competition and entered directly into the TPA Hall of Shame....SHAME...(I keep trying to type the word "F"a"M"..'E' but Robert's filters keep changing it to Shame. Come on, Mr. Eisner, go to the Disney Commissary and purchase some humility, and do the right thing. Withdraw from the competition. Give some of the poor theme park fans a chance. You've already built your magnificent theme parks ;+)

Now on a serious note, congratulations on all the competitors and their remarkable proposals. TPA8 has the potential to be the best yet, especially since I see a change in the rules learned from the problems we, the judges, caused in TPA7 by being too rule-oriented. We spent too much time on telling you what not to do and not enough time telling you, "Show us what you CAN do!" So, competitors, show the judges and the readers- and there are more readers than just the three judges- what you can do! But the most important thing, in my opinion, is to HAVE FUN DOING IT!

Don't try to create a ride, attractions, show, restaurant, etc. that you yourself would not want to ride, visit or spend your money on. If you haven't bought into your proposal, nobody else will either.

It is often said, "If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." Remember that! I was a bit worried at the beginning of the competition- now I can't wait to see what amazing parks are going to come to life this season!

June 11, 2016, 6:58 PM

Unfortunately I didn't have as much spare time as I would have liked this week, but I hope you all do enjoy HocusPocus's House of Fun.

June 11, 2016, 7:08 PM

Same here. I finished my proposal in an airport in Portland haha.

Edited: June 13, 2016, 9:45 AM

I just want to thank the judges, and especially AJ Hummel. Thank you for this great opportunity to compete here, and I will definitely be following the other competitor's great work.

I look forward to competing with you all later...(when is the redemption due? I probably should start working on it.)

June 13, 2016, 11:00 AM

Thanks, realdonaldduck. I'm glad you enjoyed competing and I hope to see more from you. You've got some great ideas, they just need additional development. As for the redemption challenge, it will take place following Challenge 4, so as of now the deadline will be July 9th.

June 16, 2016, 7:57 AM

Two Quick Questions:

1. For Challenge 2, can my proposal be less than 3 pages? My pitch is a straightforward flat ride and I don't feel the need to write a whole essay about it.

2. Will there be a prize this season for the winner?

June 16, 2016, 11:33 AM

1. The length requirements listed in challenges are guidelines and not strict rules. If you feel you've covered everything with less text, that is perfectly fine.

2. As of right now, we do not have any specific prize for the winner (other than the title, of course). If this changes, there will be an announcement about it.

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