As a member of Themed Entertainment Association, we have found that the organization’s well-documented project development guidelines are applicable for any project involving experience design. Be it interactive or integrated projects, mobile storytelling, applications or installations, these are the phases and stages we refer to from initial estimates to completion.
A new idea is developed into a project, establishing the criteria for its design and implementation.
Stage 1. PROJECT INITIATION
Projects start in a variety of ways. It may find its genesis in a creative idea, a commercial opportunity, or an operational need. The goal of this stage is to massage the idea and determine if it is worth pursuing. Questions to answered are: Does it have popular appeal?; Can it be done?; What are the limitations? Ultimately, a decision is made to either abandon the idea, or proceed on to planning.
Stage 2. PROJECT DEVELOPMENT PLANNING
The goal of this stage is to establish the criteria of success and to prepare a Project Development Plan that will allow the project to fulfill that criteria. Parameters usually include cost, completion date, site, capacity, operability, entertainment value, and marketability. The plan will typically include a description of the project, a Master Budget, and a Master Schedule.
Stage 3. MASTER PLAN & CONCEPT DESIGN
This stage conceptualizes the attraction’s show and its venue. This includes an initial facility layout and a high-concept show treatment. A Master Plan is developed, documenting a working proposal for the layout, configuration, and operating characteristics of the facility. Where applicable, the guest experience is broken out into different scenes. This stage concludes with the establishment of a final project program.
The show, ride, facility, and media are designed in orderly iterations, with increased detail at each step.
NOTE: At this stage there is a choice of different contracting strategies that affect how the work is to be done. Contracting strategies can consist of either design/bid or design/build. With design/bid, the project team performs all the design and submits it as a package to a contractor, vendor or supplier for bid. With design/ build, the team prepares the initial (typically minimal) design and asks the contractor, vendor or supplier to bid for both design and build. The choice between these two strategies is often critical. There are advantages and disadvantages to each system.
Stage 4. SCHEMATIC DESIGN
Here, the team identifies all the physical elements of the project, how they integrate with each other, and locates them within the facility envelope. Primary show, ride, and facility systems are identified, but not fully articulated. This design becomes the skeleton on which the Design Development effort is built.
Stage 5. DESIGN DEVELOPMENT
The schematic design is elaborated with a fully detailed, fully engineered design. All elements are now fixed.
Stage 6. CONSTRUCTION/FABRICATION DOCUMENTS
Preparation of the final documentation defining how the project will be built and fabricated. These are the documents that will actually be used in the fabrication shop and in the field. They may be prepared by the team and submitted to the contractor, or the contractor may prepare them and submit them to the team for approval. They include both drawings and specifications.
The project takes physical form as the facilities are built, show and ride elements are fabricated or procured, and all components are installed.
Stage 7. CONSTRUCTION/PRODUCTION/FABRICATION
The venue is constructed; the ride and show elements are produced and fabricated. All are based on the construction/fabrication documents.
Stage 8. SHOW & RIDE INSTALLATION
All show and ride system components and technologies are installed, terminated, and programmed. All systems are tested during this stage to ensure they will meet the project’s program requirements. This stage concludes when all elements are functioning together correctly and accepted by the Owner.
After a preparation period, the venue is opened to the public. A close-out period concludes all remaining business.
Stage 9. PRE-OPENING; CYCLING; TRAINING
This stage begins when the project team turns over the facility to the owner. It covers the training of the owner’s Operations and Maintenance personnel; establishment of operations and maintenance procedures; load in of Operations’ furnishings, fixtures, and equipment; and the stocking of any inventories. To further these objectives, the attraction is cycled to confirm its reliability and provide training opportunities. Unpublicized “soft” openings provide an opportunity to test the venue with pubic visitors.
Stage 10. GRAND OPENING
The Grand Opening officially offers a fully operational and completely finished project to the public, culminating the entire project development process. Marketing and public relations campaigns are coordinated to maximize public attention and interest. The opening often involves special events and ceremonies.
Stage 11. PROJECT CLOSE-OUT
This stage, typically extending beyond the public opening, focuses on finishing out the project and providing the documentation required for its successful operation. Activities at this stage include:
Completing the punch list.
Providing Operations and Maintenance manuals.
Updating the Construction/Fabrication documents to “as-built” conditions. Resolving all outstanding issues with the contractors, the operator, and the owner.