Announcing Theme Park Apprentice 9!

Edited: July 1, 2017, 6:21 AM

Welcome, one and all, young and old, newbies and returning players, to Theme Park Apprentice 9! The seasons have passed, the Tournament of Champions II has just now come and gone, and it’s time for a new beginning.

Theme Park Apprentice (TPA) is our semi-regular theme park design competition which has been held on this site since 2010. It is available to everyone! In fact, for this season we are keen to reinvigorate the game with something we call...


What does that mean? It’s all about rehabilitation, about fixing things which don’t quite work in existing theme parks. Don’t worry, it’s not going to be complicated! For we’re all about rehabilitating TPA as well. Fewer rules, fewer restrictions! For nearly every challenge you can use any park, your choice!

The old TPA powerhouses – all those 100-pound Armchair Imagineering gorillas who just dueled to the death in the Tournament of Champions – they aren’t playing, I won’t let ‘em, so don’t be scared off. Newcomers, join up! Old veterans who still have something to prove, come on down!

How does it work? Every week, a new challenge is posted. Players then have a week to create their proposals.

For a partial preview, we’re looking at CHALLENGE 1: RETHEME AN EXISTING ATTRACTION, CHALLENGE 2: REPLACE A LOUSY ROLLER COASTER, and CHALLENGE 3: IMPROVE A PARK’S FOOD SERVICES. That’s just as a starter, and the challenges will be clearer when they post.

How long does it run? Our first challenge will post on Sunday, July 9th. There will be 7 challenges in total, running through the entirety of July and August. The final climactic challenge will be an epic 2-week affair, and the winner is then announced in early September, to copious cheers and accolades!

How do I sign up? As long as you post a proposal for Challenge 1, you’re in! Of course, if you’re interested in playing, let us know in the space below! It’s awesome to gauge interest in advance. You don’t need to have played before. And if like 20 different people want to play, no problem!

What if I can’t do each week? Don’t worry! We have something called the Real Life Pass. Just let us judges know (hopefully in advance) if real life ever forces you to skip a week. We’ll allow it! And it won’t be a competitive kiss-of-death either, because...

Eliminations now work differently! In the past, we’ve seen one (or more!) players booted with every challenge. This is a shame. Who can develop their talents and enjoy the game if they’re eliminated? So how it’ll work this time is...

For each challenge, proposals are scored out of 100 points, across a variety of categories (creativity, realism, proposal quality, etc.). Points are cumulative throughout the season. As long as all the players score similarly...NO ONE IS ELIMINATED! Only if someone falls substantially behind the leader (I’m thinking by a whole 100 points, but we’ll see how this plays out), then and only then does elimination occur. Anyone using a Real Life Pass receives a score 10 points below the lowest competitor for that week, so there is a penalty, but it’s not insurmountable.

Once the finale comes about, the 3 competitors with the highest scores will be invited to continue. (Maybe even more, if additional players are neck-and-neck!) Whoever wins that finale brings home all the metaphorical Fastpasses!

Who’s judging? I am, for one. Actually, I’m hosting. Who am I? One of the former TPA champions and recent Tournament of Champions winner, although a mere 2 years ago I was an untested would-be Apprentice who was reading this same sort of announcement for the first time. TPA has been incalculably wonderful for me, creating lasting friendships and even guiding me through difficult personal times. I’m a Southern Californian.

Joining me is Chad H, a fellow champion. He is an Australian currently studying law in Scotland. Chad loves the smaller regional parks beyond the United States. I’ll let him cover more biography if he wishes.

As for our third and final judge...that’s still in limbo. But trust me that our third, whoever that winds up being, will be knowledgeable, fair and constructive.


So that’s it! I look forward to seeing some fresh creativity. I look forward to seeing new and old faces. Fingers crossed that this will be a fresh, vibrant season!

Additional boring rules to follow.

Replies (18)

Edited: July 1, 2017, 6:24 AM


This is the basically same ipsum we put out every season. Legal language, really. This’ll help clear up any lingering questions (if it doesn’t, just ask).

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 misspelllings croppp uppppppp (I’m sure there are several in this introduckshun artikull) 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, repetition, bad grammar, bad spelling, and repetition. Use a spell checker and a grammar checker.

2. Deadlines count. If you can’t get something in on time, please let us know that you’ll be using a Real Life Pass. We want everyone to remain in the game, so please ask in advance. Late proposals without an official extension will carry a penalty.

3(a). 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 judge. If you come up with an idea so obvious it is likely others will do so as well, it might be a good idea to see if you can come up with a second theme. That said, there is no rule prohibiting multiple competitors from using the same theme, and if you feel you can deliver a truly outstanding attraction then go for it regardless of what others do.

3(b). Reality counts. Generally speaking, proposals which could be feasibly created in the real world, and which realistically match the abilities of the parks where they are located, will be judged more favorably. If in doubt, it’s up to you to convince us about something’s realism. But don’t feel constrained by these barriers, for sometimes limitations can force the greatest creativity. If you want to do a Six Flags attraction at Disney quality, convince us it’s possible! If you want use an unconventional IP (intellectual property), sell us on it!

4. The judges' rulings are final, and since they make the determination of who moves on and who is dropped from the competition, it might not be a good idea to argue with or upset them. However, we are not here to make your life miserable, so if you feel that a judge has made a significant error you are welcome to respond to the judges’ critiques in a civil manner. If you have issues with a particular judge, please contact the judges privately to discuss it.

5. The judges will be casting all of the votes this season. This should make the criteria of a good proposal a little clearer. There have been too many instances of vote manipulation, either actual or perceived, in public votes. We assure you that judges are going to base our votes on the quality of the proposals, their originality, creativity, professional presentation, etc. and not on anything else.
To aid in fairness, judges will be scoring using a weighted spreadsheet. Generally, the criteria will be:
Writing: 15%
Met challenge criteria: 25%
Reality check: 10%
Overall proposal quality: 50%

6. Add-Ons: Pictures & Videos. Pictures are a handy way of saving you a thousand words in your proposal. Pictures are not an official requirement, but many competitors utilize them. Most people don’t create the images themselves and merely find images on the internet through various search engines. The general rules (created simply because of this website’s limits when it comes to images and long threads) require all pictures to be 560 pixels wide or less. Unless otherwise stated, five pictures are allowed in the body of your proposal, with an additional header and footer also allowed. (Actually, I’m gonna be really laissez-faire about this, so I won’t be counting your photos; if they’re used appropriately, one or two in addition won’t hurt anyone. Shhh!) Any one of your pictures can be substituted with a video (which can be easily embedded from YouTube – please set the width at 560 or less), but please keep it a reasonable duration. Contrary to popular opinion, we judges do have lives outside of TPA.

7. If you need help, please ask for it. The judges should be able to respond very quickly to any inquiries, issues, problems, or calls for assistance. If you are unsure of the requirements for a particular challenge, please post questions in the official challenge thread.
8. Under no circumstances will we tolerate criticism, attacks, bad mouthing, or chaos in general. Anyone who attempts to provoke a fight with other competitors, judges, or spectators, or who behaves in a general unsportsmanlike way, will be dismissed from the competition and may, at the judges’ discretion, be prohibited from participating in future Theme Park Apprentice competitions. 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.
9. This season, all competitors will be permitted to skip one round of the competition if circumstances prevent them from submitting a quality proposal in a timely manner. See the Real Life Pass section for more. Failure to submit a proposal in more than one challenge will result in disqualification unless exceptional circumstances are present (major power failure, natural disaster, death of an immediate or close family member, etc.).
10. These rules are subject to change. If something is not working we are going to fix it so it does.


Y’all don’t need me telling you how to be creative! You tell us that! For help, though, here are the archives of all former Theme Park Apprentice seasons, filled with dozens upon dozens of incredibly creative concepts (plus mine). As much as there’s a “standard” style of proposal used in TPA – generally, we assume you’re presenting a professional pitch piece to a theme park board of directors – you’ll find that style all across the archives!

And since the recent Tournament of Champions postdates the archives, here are its dark rides, water parks, casinos, reclaimed parks, and Orlando parks.

For posting pictures, photo-hosting services like Photobucket or Flickr work best. With a pic saved to your computer, upload it to the hosting site, then copy its code into your proposal. Feel free to use this thread or the upcoming chat thread to practice.

The same goes for HTML code, which lets you italicize, embiggen, and otherwise create perfectly cromulent words. How it works is you type stuff like I have below, only without the asterisks, and the stuff typed in between the brackets becomes bold, or tiny, or whatever you’ve requested. So...
<*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

That covers hopefully everything. Looking forward to a great season!

Edited: July 1, 2017, 8:25 AM

Just an update... I graduated law last week at the University of Glasgow, or as we call it here: Hogwarts.


Shockingly, I've never been to a Disney park. I intend on correcting this in September. I am an avid reader however of Yesterland, and many of the cast-member "behind the scenes" books (of which the best is one written by someone called Robert Niles...)

I have however been to parks all over the world, including some of the oldest (Blackpool Pleasure Beach and Alton Towers) and many of the newer, such as Warner Bros Movie World Australia, Dreamworld, SeaWorld Australia. I've also visited many highly themed attractions around the world - Dungeons, Madame Taussaud's, etc.

My Coaster bag list includes the Scenic Railway (Luna Park Melbourne); Colossus, saw and Swarm (Thorpe Park); The Pepsi Max big one, big dipper, The Grand National and Steeplechase (at Blackpool), Nemesis and the coaster formerly known as Air (Alton Towers) and many more.

I am impressed more by parks that are unique to their location - should I find myself in France I'd be more likely to visit Parc Asterix than Disneyland Paris. Don't get me wrong, an appropriate remix in the right place at the right time works great, but you won't impress me with something that everyone else is doing.

Well, thats all I really want to say for now. Bonne Chance.

July 1, 2017, 1:18 PM

Sign me up!

Looking forward to July 9th

July 1, 2017, 1:20 PM

Glad to have you onboard, space!

July 1, 2017, 2:38 PM

Count me in for this!

July 4, 2017, 2:39 AM

I will have a dabble. See if I can make the final this time. semi Finals last time I played. :)

July 4, 2017, 6:21 AM

Excellent, Alan! Glad to see a mix of old and new competitors.

And tcool, a delayed welcome!

Happy Independence Day, my fellow Americans. And to Chad, a wonderful Tuesday.

July 6, 2017, 9:09 AM

Hi everyone! I would like to throw my hat into the ring as well, please.

July 6, 2017, 9:31 AM

Good to have you onboard Figment!

July 6, 2017, 9:58 AM

Agreed. Excited to see your ideas, Figment!

Edited: July 21, 2017, 8:39 AM



July 21, 2017, 8:46 AM

One technical issue that's come to my attention is that Photobucket no longer allows free photo sharing. For attaching pics to TPI, I recommend Flickr.

Edited: July 21, 2017, 10:16 AM


Random Image -

July 21, 2017, 1:59 PM

I use Flickr, but there's a lot of crap in their default embed code you can remove without issue.

Edited: July 21, 2017, 7:50 PM

I'm not planning on posting any pictures...but I couldn't help myself...

It's all real. Feel free to stare.

July 26, 2017, 8:45 AM

Hey judges,
I'm trying to include some photos in my food service proposal, and I'm not sure how to do it. I currently just have them sitting in my word document, and I'm having trouble getting them here. Any help would be appreciated!! Thanks!!

July 26, 2017, 9:07 AM


I recommend you use a photo hosting service. Flickr is the best. Don't use Photobucket, it's no longer free.

Upload your photos there from your computer. Flickr will create links which you can paste into your word doc, which should do the trick. Practice posting your pics into here or the chatter thread to get the hang of it.

And keep the pic widths 550 pixels or fewer, which is the TPI's display limit. Hope this helps.

July 26, 2017, 12:16 PM

You can also use Google Drawings if you want. It gives you the ability to edit the photo as well as embed it. When you're done with it, just click "Publish to the web>Embed>Small/Medium (whichever has the width less than 550)". Hope this helps!

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