Announcing Theme Park Apprentice 7

Edited: July 1, 2015, 4:49 PM

Hello everyone,

As you may recall, at the end of Theme Park Apprentice 6.1 I put out a survey to see if there was interest in running a summer season of the competition. Based on the results I received, it appears that there is interest in holding the season. I originally planned to get this going last month, but due to a variety of things it's a bit delayed. However, now is the time to start. Welcome to...

Theme Park Apprentice 7

What is Theme Park Apprentice?

For those unfamiliar with the competition, Theme Park Apprentice is an imaginary design exercise for theme park fans. Each week, competitors are faced with a challenge relating to some aspect of a theme park and must submit a proposal that best satisfies the requirements of the challenge. The game was originally created by Tim W and patterned off the popular reality TV program The Apprentice, and while changes have occurred over time (most notably the introduction of judges instead of a public vote and various themes for each season) the basic premise has remained the same.

Who is AJ Hummel and what is he doing here?

For those that don't know me, I've been a user of Theme Park Insider for several years and have become more active recently. I have been a theme park enthusiast since I was in middle school. Since I started traveling North America for theme parks in 2008, I have visited over 70 theme parks and ridden over 350 roller coasters, but I still have not made my way to Florida. In real life, I have a Mechanical Engineering degree and the long term goal of working in the themed entertainment industry in some form. I live in Southern California and am always willing to help those from out of the area with any vacation-related questions.

As far as Theme Park Apprentice is concerned, I first competed in Theme Park Apprentice 4, where I was crowned champion. I later competed in Theme Park Apprentice 5 and was scheduled to compete in Theme Park Apprentice 6 prior to its cancellation. I was a judge during the previous season, Theme Park Apprentice 6.1, and as DPCC inc. (the host of that season) was not interested in hosting again he offered me the position. Therefore, I will be your host for Theme Park Apprentice 7 and, depending on how it goes, may be hosting more of these in the future.

What format is in use for this season?

Since the previous two competitions both used a cumulative format, this season will be returning to the original independent challenge format. Each challenge in this season will be set within a major theme park chain, but it will be up to competitors to pick the individual park to use in each challenge. For those who favor the cumulative format, it will likely return next season.

What is the duration of the competition?

Due to the short break between seasons and the delays in starting this competition, Theme Park Apprentice 7 will have a shorter season than usual. There will be 7 challenges (plus a bonus challenge explained below), most of which will last one week. The first challenge will begin on July 13th and, while the exact end date of the competition is TBD, it will be in mid-September after Labor Day.

How many competitors may participate?

In order to run Theme Park Apprentice 7, a minimum of 8 competitors is required. Ideally, I would like to have 10-12 competitors in case of drops. There is no maximum number of competitors, but if a large number sign up there may be more than one elimination per round (detailed below).

Who is eligible to participate?

Any registered member of Theme Park Insider who has ever fantasized about designing a theme park or working in the industry AND who is willing to commit the time to writing quality proposals each week (as a general guide, expect to spend 3-5 hours per week on this competition...possibly more if you're really serious) is welcome to participate. If you've never competed before, don't be intimidated as first-timers tend to have just as much success as veterans in this competition.

What is new this season?

For those who have played before, several concepts that were not used in the past will be tested this season. Depending on how well they work, these may become a part of all future seasons.

Realistic Design Constraints: Some challenges have become more restrictive than in the past to simulate the constraints a real attraction would have. This may force you to think outside the box a bit for some challenges and will hopefully lead to some creative ideas.

Suggested Length: In the past, competitors have gone above and beyond with proposals. While there is nothing wrong with writing a short novel, in order to make judging more timely a suggested length has been set for each proposal. You will not be penalized for exceeding this value, but if you write 10 pages for a proposal with a suggested length of 3 you might want to reconsider whether everything you wrote is really helping your case.

Point System: All competitors will receive points based on their placement in each round. These points will be normalized so that the same amount are available in each round and it doesn't become impossible for a competitor who starts off below-average to catch up.

Elimination Procedure: The primary elimination will be determined based on the judges' rankings for a challenge. The competitor who scores the fewest number of points in that challenge will be eliminated. If more than one elimination is necessary, secondary eliminations will occur based on the cumulative scores.

Immunity: The top competitor(s) in the cumulative standings will be granted immunity from primary elimination. This means that if they receive the lowest score in a challenge they are safe and the next-lowest score will be eliminated. In addition, a competitor who places first in a challenge will be immune from secondary elimination for that challenge only.

Late Penalty: In an effort to retain competitors, late proposals will be accepted. However, competitors will receive a penalty of 1 point per hour for a late submission. Furthermore, judges will not be required to critique late submissions.

Real Life Pass: As another feature to prevent drops, competitors are permitted to skip one round of the competition if real life gets in the way. Competitors must declare that they are choosing to use this pass prior to the challenge deadline or they will be considered to have dropped from the competition. Competitors using this pass will receive a score of 0 for the round, so it is not a "skip the challenge you dislike" pass.

Redemption Challenge: Lastly, for those who are eliminated early and feel they can do better, there will be one redemption challenge during the competition, likely about 2/3 of the way through. This challenge will be open to anyone who was eliminated prior to the challenge (those who dropped will be ineligible for redemption). The winner (or top few competitors) in this challenge will return to the competition for a shot at winning. More details will be provided closer to the date of the challenge.

How do I sign up?

If you are interested in competing in Theme Park Apprentice 7, simply state your intention to compete in this thread. Note that there will be no official sign-up thread for this competition and anyone who posts a proposal for the first challenge will be an official competitor. However, this thread will be used to judge interest and if there are only a few confirmed competitors the competition may be postponed or cancelled, so please reply here if you are planning to compete.

What about judging?

In addition to host, I will be acting as the head judge for this competition. I have already found another judge and will let him introduce himself at his convenience. In addition, we are looking for 1 or 2 additional judges for the competition. Judges are primarily responsible for critiquing the proposals submitted by competitors and assigning ranks each week. In addition, judges act as moderators during the competition, assisting competitors when they have questions and dealing with issues if they arise.

If interested in being a judge, know that this position will require you to submit a 1/4 to 1/2 page critique of each proposal each week. Since challenges end on a Saturday, these critiques will need to be posted on Sundays or, at the very latest, Monday morning. You will also need to submit a ranking of competitors to determine scoring and eliminations in each round. Lastly, you will be expected to respond promptly to emails from other judges and check the competition threads at least once every 2-3 days to monitor progress of competitors and assist with any questions. If you are interested in applying to be a judge, read the appropriate section below for directions:

I have judged a Theme Park Apprentice competition in the past: All you need to do is send me an email at with your name, preferred email address, and Theme Park Apprentice competition history.

I have competed in a Theme Park Apprentice competition but have never judged one: In addition to sending me an email ( with your name, preferred email address, and Theme Park Apprentice competition history, you must submit a few sample critiques. Please select three proposals written by different competitors for different challenges in previous Theme Park Apprentice competitions and write a 1/4 to 1/2 page critique of each one. The challenges may all be from the same season or they may be from different seasons, but they must be different challenges (ex: you can't do three different dark ride challenges). Don't forget to include a link to the original proposal with your critique.

I have never competed in Theme Park Apprentice before: If you have no previous experience with this competition, I'm going to ask that you compete this season and consider judging in the future. It is a lot easier to judge something you have experience with, and since there have been issues with judges in the past I would like to make sure the judging panel knows what to look for.

Judging applications are due by midnight pacific time on July 5th. Judges will be selected by this time next week. Note that this is not first-come first-served, so anyone who submits an application by the due date will be considered for the position.

Okay, I think that's about it. Sorry for the long post, but there's a lot of information to cover. The full rules and challenge schedule will be posted late next week and the first challenge will begin on July 13th. If you're interested in Theme Park Apprentice 7, post in this thread, and if you've got any questions or comments feel free to share those too. I look forward to seeing what everyone can come up with and hope to have another exciting season of Theme Park Apprentice in the remainder of this summer.

Replies (22)

July 2, 2015, 5:27 AM

I'm the second judge- big surprise there, huh? As far as my credentials go, I won Water Park Apprentice and the Tournament of Champions, came in second in TPA2,3 and 6.1, and judged TPA4 and 5. You'd think I had enough of this, wouldn't you? I'm not sure if Theme Park Apprentice is an addiction or an obsession with me, but I know it is fun regardless of what part I play in it. As a judge I want to tell you just a few things about where I am coming from: 1) I will be completely fair. If I have had any "issues" with anyone in the past, I have already forgotten them, so you don't have to worry about me "not liking you" or any of that sort of stuff. I judge strictly on the quality of your work. 2) I will judge strictly on the quality of your work. The big word there is "quality" both in content and in professional presentation. The whole concept of Theme Park Apprentice, as it was created by the Creator Tim W. (sounds of heavenly angels in the background here) was that these proposals are to be done in a professional manner, as if you are presenting them to the Executive Vice President in Charge of Development and Ridiculously Good Ideas for the Universally Disney Gardens of the Six Flags over the Cedar Fair Sea Theme Park Corporation, located in Hershey, Pennsylvania (did I leave anyone out?). I will not look kindly on quickly thrown together proposals full of misspellings, missing punctuation, sentences that make no sense, etc. Write your proposals like they are being presented to someone who has the money and power to make them happen. 3) I look for realistic ideas. Dreaming and pushing the boundaries is wonderful, but keep one foot in the real world. If your proposal requires antigravity devices and teleportation, then you had better include the technical details on how you are going to make it happen. Don't even try to slip something like "..and then a miracle occurs!" into your proposal unless you can back up that miracle. 4) HAVE FUN DOING THIS! If you are not having fun then you are not doing it right! I'm not saying it won't be work, and hard work if you take it seriously and want to be a legitimate contender. During the last competition, TPA6.1, Blake (the champion) and I wrote back and forth and we both admitted to staying up late into the night writing our proposals, to the point that both of us had at one time or another fallen asleep at our computers. I also know that he agrees with me that it was worth it, because we were having a blast doing it. Sleep deprivation is not a requirement, but having fun competing is. Have fun with this!

I encourage anyone who has an interest in trying this to give it a shot. If you do, there are another two things that I want you to think about:
1) No Theme Park Apprentice competition has ever been won by a veteran competitor. Every one has been won by a newbie, so don't think that you can't win because you've never done this before.
2) There is always a chance that a veteran competitor can win- nothing says you can't win, and if you have competed before you know what is required to stay in the competition and eventually win it. Us that experience and be the first veteran to win it all!

AJ did a great job in TPA 6.1 as a judge and has put a huge amount of thought in getting TPA7 organized with excellent rules and plans. I know that this will be a great competition with some remarkable proposals coming out of it, and someone, be it a newbie or a veteran, will be crowned the next TPA Champion.

Sign up! We want you to share the fun!

July 2, 2015, 10:21 AM

I'm in, I'll do it, I'll sign up. Count me in, I'm your man, you have my vote, let's do this. It seems like a whole lot of fun anyhow!

July 2, 2015, 12:30 PM

I've though about it all day, and I'm in. I'm ready to try to become the next Theme Park Apprentice!

July 2, 2015, 2:20 PM

I would like to compete. Thank you, AJ!

July 3, 2015, 4:44 PM

Please put me down as a competitor for this season -- This sounds like fun!

July 3, 2015, 5:00 PM

I'm free to judge again, if you'll have me (or if you'd prefer me to compete, I'm willing to do that too....).

July 3, 2015, 5:34 PM

I am so in!

Edited: July 3, 2015, 7:24 PM

Um James, a veteran did win once... I won the second time I competed (runner up the first time).

It seems official I'm the third judge.

I tend to be a bit forthright with my comments... If I don't like something, you will know it - but if I do like something you'll also know it. You wont have to wonder if I'm maybe hiding something in diplomatic language. However, my feedback is very much designed to be constructive (with suggestions), so I have no intention of just being the "evil judge".

Best advice I can give at the moment is, if you have not played already, pull out one of the finale contests and write what you would have done, and do it in a week, if you still want to play, welcome aboard! I think the reason why we see a lot of churn and dropouts is that people underestimate how much work is involved.

I don't say that to scare you off, it is a fun game, but its more fun when you go in when everyone goes in with open eyes and competes, rather than drop out.

What James has said about writing to the right audience is also key. Pitch to us as if we're executives, that means professional posts. I'm not going to scrutinise your entry for spelling and grammar errors - I make plenty of my own - however if you're clearly not even making the effort to try and get the basics right (capitals at the start of a sentence, full stops, etc) then I find it harder to read... Also, you better know where the "enter/return" key is because there is nothing harder to read than a single wall of text - use paragraphs.

If you're not already familiar with the basics of HTML - Images, Bold Text, Italics, etc, get familiar with it now. It makes it easier to spot headings and other things you want to emphasise (not to mention adding images really does help your entry).

Thats me out for now.

July 3, 2015, 8:07 PM

Sorry about that, Chad. I've been doing these for so long that they do tend to get a bit mixed up in my memory. As far as the spelling, grammar and punctuation goes I agree that I'm not going to come down hard on you if you forget a comma or a period, but I have to be able to read what you wrote without needing a translator. Use spellchecking, and it doesn't hurt to have someone read your proposal before you post it and have them look for those nasty missing capital letters or misspellings (there, their, they're; to, too, two).

We all want this to be fun for everyone involved! Personally I've made several very good friends in real life through my involvement with TPA, and I know that I have improved my writing style and my ability to put my imagination into words. It is work, but it can be lots of fun and very rewarding.

Don't delay- sign up today! (but only if you intend on competing)

July 6, 2015, 12:36 AM

I'd love to compete!

July 6, 2015, 12:11 PM

Judging applications are now closed. Since I received no additional applications, there will be three judges this season: James, Chad, and myself. Having competed against, judged, been judged by, and/or judged alongside both James and Chad in the past, I would say that they are among the best competitors that have participated in Theme Park Apprentice. Both have done an excellent job with judging in previous seasons. For competitors, I can guarantee that you will receive valuable feedback for every submission from this season's judging panel and that everything should go more smoothly than the previous season.

As for competitors, I currently have six confirmed for this season:

-Douglas Hindley
-Juan Hamilton
-Keith Schneider
-Robert Waldbauer
-Brett Angwin
-Andy Teoh

Welcome to those of you who are rookies, and welcome back to former competitors. I wish you all good luck in Theme Park Apprentice 7. I trust that all of you will come up with excellent designs in the challenges that await. Check back later this week for the official rules and an overview of the challenges you'll face, then prepare for your first challenge beginning one week from today.

If you are interested in competing but have not signed up yet, don't worry. There is still time to enter the competition, but the sooner you register the easier it is for us. If you're on the fence about competing, I would highly encourage you to give it a try. While this is a serious competition and does require a significant time commitment each week, you will hopefully find it an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Who knows, you may even become the next Theme Park Apprentice.

July 8, 2015, 4:24 PM

I'm going to register, and I'm finally going to make an effort into being the next Theme Park Apprentice! I can't wait to participate!

July 9, 2015, 10:45 AM

I think I'm going to give this a go and represent the salty veterans. I have won before, been trounced before, and judged before. With any luck I hope to make James eat his words about veterans...

July 9, 2015, 12:23 PM

i would like to enter again this year after I had to get out last season

July 9, 2015, 1:00 PM

Terrific! Glad to see both of you back into the competition. We've got a good looking bunch of competitors this round.

July 9, 2015, 3:14 PM

Welcome to the competition, Tyler, Jeff, and Luca. I look forward to seeing what all of you are capable of in the upcoming challenges. Our current list of competitors is:

-Douglas Hindley
-Juan Hamilton
-Keith Schneider
-Robert Waldbauer
-Brett Angwin
-Andy Teoh
-Tyler Harris
-Jeff Elliott
-Luca Ferracuti

That's nine, which is above the minimum to run the competition. Therefore, Theme Park Apprentice 7 is 100% on. Tomorrow, I will be posting the official rules of the competition and the challenge schedule, as well as a beginner's guide to proposals and some helpful HTML tags. The first challenge begins on Monday, July 13th and will be due on the following Saturday, so get ready to show us what you've got.

If you are still considering joining the competition, don't despair. Sign-ups are still open through the conclusion of the first challenge. I welcome anyone who is interested in the competition and is going to take it seriously to compete, and if you've got what it takes you may become the next Theme Park Apprentice.

July 11, 2015, 8:25 PM

I'd like to join. Thanks!

July 12, 2015, 3:31 AM

Terrific! Welcome aboard, Karina!

July 12, 2015, 10:00 PM

Welcome to the competition, Karina. We now have an even ten competitors registered for this season:

-Douglas Hindley
-Juan Hamilton
-Keith Schneider
-Robert Waldbauer
-Brett Angwin
-Andy Teoh
-Tyler Harris
-Jeff Elliott
-Luca Ferracuti
-Karina Bhattacharya

It looks like we've got a great group of competitors this season. Some of you are new, and others have competed in the past. Regardless of your previous Theme Park Apprentice experience, all of you are on equal footing and any one of you may be crowned the next Theme Park Apprentice. If you have not done so yet, I suggest you review the Competitor's Handbook thread for complete rules, the official challenge list, and a beginner's guide to proposal writing. That will also be the main place to ask questions if you need assistance during the competition.

For anyone who still wishes to compete but has not signed up yet, you are still welcome to sign up through the conclusion of Challenge 1. However, at this point there is no need to post here. The final contestant pool will consist of everyone who participates in the first challenge and submits a proposal by the deadline of Saturday, July 18th.

To all the competitors of Theme Park Apprentice 7, I wish you good luck in the seven challenges that await you. I am eager to read every single proposal that is to be submitted, and I hope everyone has brought their A game to the table. Now, it is time for you all to show us what you've got. James, Chad, and I await your submissions because as of now, Theme Park Apprentice 7 has officially begun!

July 13, 2015, 6:07 AM

I'll do it

July 13, 2015, 7:07 AM

Hi, Jaiden! We're now up to eleven competitors! Be sure to read all the other threads, especially the Competitor's Handbook and Challenge 1 Thread. We've officially started, so best of luck to you and the rest of the competitors, and remember, anyone can still enter the competition even if you don't "officially" announce it in here, but if you enter, plan on staying with it to the end!

July 15, 2015, 9:59 AM

AJ and James,

I sent you both an e-mail. Thanks and I look forward to TPA 7. Good luck to all the competitors and judges!

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