Official Theme Park Apprentice 6.1 Rules

Edited: January 19, 2015, 7:14 AM

It's finally here! Theme Park Apprentice 6.1: Audition round goes up next saturday. The other judges and myself are very excited to resurrect this game, and hopefully make it better than ever.

What is Theme Park Apprentice? I'm glad you asked! In the words of Tim W., "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 [person is] eliminated until we have a champion."

This version of the game will run similarly to Theme Park Apprentice 5, in that all ideas will be put together in the end for a cumulative theme park. There will be some changes, however.

First, in an effort to lessen bias, this year we have a panel of 5 judges. These five judges will be solely responsible for the cuts that are made. There will be no arguing. If you are cut, you are cut! One contestant will be eliminated each week after the audition, and the judges will vote on who they think should be eliminated. The proposal with the most votes will be eliminated.

Second, the Audition round will have a slightly different purpose this year. As many people as wish to may enter the audition round and the contest. By posting your Audition, you enter the contest. However, unlike TPA 5, only 10 contestants will survive the audition rounds. The judges will decide together which 10 those will be.

Third, At the time when Auditions end, I will post all of the challenges for the entire competition, which gives you a little more flexibility to work with.

Finally, Independent Properties (IP) will be allowed, as long as it is not already utilized in a Theme Park. Therefore, you are welcome to use The Jungle Book in an attraction, but Harry Potter is a no-go. Also, if you choose to create a Disney or Universal Theme Park, or a Theme Park owned by a larger company, you can use their IP that is already in a park, but not the IP of any other companies.

The standard rules will be the same as the unfinished TPA 6, which are as follows:

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.

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 moves on and who is dropped from the competition, it might not be a good idea to argue with or upset them. We are not total jerks, though, so if you feel that we have misinterpreted something you have presented we will listen to your explanations privately, not on-site. Explaining is one thing, arguing is another.

5. The judges will be casting all of the votes this season. This should make the criteria of a good proposal a little more clear since the popularity of, say, Black Caldron instead of Frozen, will not have nearly as much of an effect on the judges as it will with a popular front page vote. There have also been too many instances of vote manipulation, either actual or perceived, when a public vote was held, so we have decided to have the judges make the decisions as to who moves on and who is dropped from the competition. We assure you that we are going to base our votes on the quality of the proposals, their originality, creativity, professional presentation, etc. and not on anything else.

6a. Add-Ons: Pictures. Pictures are a handy way of saving you a thousand words in your proposal. Pictures are not an official requirement, and last year, one of the finalists made it without posting a single picture, but many competitors utilize them. 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. You will be allowed to substitute one (1) video for one of your pictures, but no more than one video. If you are doing a video, keep in mind that Jeff has an extremely short attention span and won’t watch more than about 3-4 minutes of video.

6b. 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 (or 4 pictures and 1 video) 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.

6c. Add-Ons: Music cannot be added onto a proposal unless it is part of the single video allowed. No back-ground music, please!

6d. Add-on pictures, videos, etc. are NOT a requirement, and a competitor should feel free to present their proposal with no added visual enhancement if they so choose. A poor picture can do as much harm to a proposal as a good one can benefit it.

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. There have been problems in the past with posting lengthy proposals, but those seem to have been resolved. If you need help with creating logos or posting pictures, please ask.

8. 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.

9. There have been situations come where a competitor was unable to post due to circumstances beyond their control (power failure, death in the family, etc.) but they wished to continue in the competition. We hope that nothing like this happens again, but if it does, contact any of the judges as soon as possible and we will do all we can to be fair to all competitors, including the one with the situation. But we have to be informed about it- we can't help if we don't know.

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

I would also like to note that it is very common for rookies to do extremely well, and often win, so don't be afraid to sign up.

The Sacred Helm de Minionis will be the winner's prize. For an image of this, see Signup and Rules for Theme Park Apprentice 6.

Each round will last one week, with the exception of the audition and final rounds, each of which will be two weeks long.

The Audition round will require you to give a general overview of your theme park. Remember, that regardless of how many people sign up, only 10 people will go on to the competition. Because of this, this proposal should be very good. I would go as far as describing different lands, but not specific attractions, although an example or two from each land couldn't hurt.

Good Luck everybody, and Happy Designing!

Replies (12)

January 19, 2015, 7:14 AM

Oh! I almost forgot! All entries will be due at 12:00 AM site time, which is PST, on Sunday Morning/Saturday Night. Note that I am on the east coast, and do not plan to be online at 3:00 AM, but I can see what time things were posted. Good luck to everyone!

January 19, 2015, 1:50 PM

I want to participate but i have two questions.

1. Do we send the audition to you or post it
2. Is there a specific topic in the audition?

January 19, 2015, 4:48 PM

When does the audition round start?

January 21, 2015, 12:21 AM

Luca and Christopher, there will be an audition thread posted soon and that is where you'll post your audition proposal. The same thing will occur for each challenge...there will be a designated thread for posting proposals and only for proposals of that challenge. I'm not 100% sure how DPCC intends to run it, but in past years the full challenge description has been at the top of the submission thread.

As a member of the judging panel for this competition, I figure I should introduce myself for any of the new competitors. I'm AJ and I've been an active member of this site for a few years. I've competed in TPA 4 and TPA 5, and was crowned champion in the former. If you did not compete in either of those tournaments, you may also recognize me from my trip report series that I've been doing for the past several months (and which I plan to wrap up this weekend). To date, I've been to over 70 parks and ridden over 350 roller coasters, mostly in the United States and ranging from destination resorts to tiny locals' parks, but I have yet to visit Florida. If there's one thing I've learned from all this traveling, at least as far as theme parks are concerned, it is that even the smallest parks can surprise you. For example, I'm lucky to have the Disneyland Resort as one of my local parks, but I have just as much fun visiting somewhere like Holiday World or Knoebels.

For any potential competitors who have not played TPA before, I will say this: TPA is a very fun and challenging game that will test your creativity and imagination. You may have to think a little outside the box in order to create winning proposals, but many of the concepts that have been presented in past seasons have been outstanding and you will hopefully find it a rewarding experience. However, be aware that this game is not easy, and it will require a significant time investment each week if you want to survive to the end (in my experience, it was usually 3-5 hours per week to create a solid proposal). Do not sign up if you are not willing to make this commitment for the next three months, as dropping from the competition without a justified reason is frowned upon. That said, remember that this is just a game, and if it becomes a chore than you're doing it wrong. You should push yourself to design the best theme park attractions you can, but don't take it so seriously you're losing sleep over it. Lastly, just because you're a rookie it doesn't mean you don't have a shot. I won the first time I played, and I don't think I'm the only one either. All it takes is a few good ideas and a well written proposal. Now, if you've ever thought about designing your own theme park or have been on the fence about playing this game before and you are willing to commit the time to doing it properly, I highly encourage you to audition for TPA 6.1.

I look forward to participating as a judge this season, and I can't wait to see what you can come up with. Good luck to everyone with the upcoming auditions!

January 21, 2015, 8:08 AM

I too would like to say hello, as a first time judge, I bring 4 years of experience of TPA to the table and I am very excited to see what creations you can come up with! I am never failed to be amazed by the ingenuity and creativity our friends here at TPI display. Its been a long time coming but I cannot wait for the kick off!
Good luck to all who decide to throw their hats into the ring!

January 21, 2015, 12:42 PM

Looking forward to competing this year. I missed the initial auditions last year. I've got a new kid coming in a few weeks so I hope I can find to time to participate!

January 21, 2015, 3:59 PM

Looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with!

January 22, 2015, 9:52 AM

The Audition Round will be posted this Saturday morning (1/24). This means it will be due midnight 2 weeks later (2/7-2/8). The next challenge will be posted Sunday Morning.

January 23, 2015, 6:32 AM

If I can give a bit of advice to contestants... Although theme park and Disney might be almost synonymous (especially on sites like this), don't feel like you have to be caught in that mould.

I won last year, but have never been to a Disney, Universal, nor (at that time) Six Flag park (I've since been to La Ronde). My Experience comes from Australian Parks (the defunct Wonderland, DreamWorld, SeaWorld Australia (no relation to the U.S. parks) Warmer Bros Movie World, and UK parks Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

Don't be afraid to look beyond the full Theme Park Experience for inspiration - Merlin (operator of Legoland and much more) operate the "Dungeons" chain (which has just taken its first U.S. steps) offering theme park style experiences in a condensed show and walk through like format; popular tourist destinations often have "tourist traps" that can be reworked, historical sites may have shows or presented explanations that can become the story base of a ride (The Chained Oak for Hex at Alton Towers jumps out at me there). If you're theming an area to be like a particular place, look for landmarks that you can tell a story around.

Definitely don't be afraid to use the real world - truth is stranger than fiction after all.

February 2, 2015, 11:30 AM

I have a question regarding pictures. How do I embed them in responses? I have a few pictures I'd like to incorporate into my audition but don't know the correct HTML command to include them. Thanks.

February 2, 2015, 11:48 AM

I actually don't know. @robertniles, can you help us out?

February 2, 2015, 12:50 PM

Blake, the easiest way to post photos would be using a photo sharing website (I use Flickr, but Photobucket has also been popular in the past). After uploading your photos, there should be a HTML code you can just paste into your message at the appropriate location (you many need to click share to get it). Be sure that you limit the width of images to 500 pixels.

For the audition round, pictures aren't really necessary. Your proposal should be a very general overview of the park, with more detail to come later. If you want to include pictures, you are welcome to do so as long as you stay within the official limits (5 pictures per proposal), but unless you know specifically what something will be like they may not be beneficial at this stage.

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