Rockwork and Water Features Serve Multiple Functions in Amusement Park Design

Posted in News -

Visit any amusement park or themed attraction around the world and you will likely see a combination of elaborate water features and rockwork landscapes. Now more than ever, amusement park designers use rocks and water to create the ultimate theme park experience. Behind the excitement and beauty of these highly specialized themed elements lies a host of artistic, financial and operational benefits as individual as the parks themselves.

In general, amusement parks use rockwork and water features in three ways – (1) as an integral structural element to a themed destination attraction, such as a water park or water ride, (2) as an attraction’s supporting or scenic element that contributes to a guest’s total immersion into an imaginary time, place or adventure, and (3) as a contributing themed event that provides an additional draw or extends a guest’s total time in the park. Excellent examples include recurring choreographed show fountain and pyrotechnic displays.

An experienced specialty theme design and construction contractor can help owners and theme park design architects receive the maximum potential from their themed attraction. For example, intricate rockwork designs not only help guests be visually transported to another time or dimension, but they can also hide unsightly maintenance or ride equipment. A timed pyrotechnic display attracts crowds to support nearby retail, but can also re-orient pedestrian traffic to ensure full park utilization. Natural and artificial rockwork rivers, streams and waterfalls enhance aesthetics while providing important way-finding benefits throughout the park.

rock work themedOne of the largest theme park owners in Southern California masterfully used themed facades, artificial rockwork statues and rockscapes to produce a surreal “other world” environment while camouflaging the inner workings of a jungle-themed river cruise ride. Iconic themed structures including temples and totems; culturally authentic embellishments such as hieroglyphics; skulls; bones and other faux artifacts greatly contribute to the guest experience while solving an underlying operational need for equipment containment.

FAux RockworkIn Central Florida, massive faux rock structures provide the framework for harrowing plunges, flumes and slides for a theme park’s separately ticketed water ride that replicates the snow-capped mountains of the Swiss Alps. A hand-sculpted mountain of artificial rock rises nearly 250 feet above the park’s ground pools to provide a dramatic scenic backdrop and house ride mechanics. An additional 200,000 square feet of artificial rockwork surround the park’s lazy rivers and wave pools, contributing the final touches to the fantasy. The result is incremental theme park days and additional gate revenue.

pyrotechnicsAcross the globe in Suwon, South Korea, visitors to a Korean theme park flock to an 80-foot, hand-sculpted volcano that explodes every hour with a seven-minute sequence of rolling thunder, pyrotechnics, steam, waterfalls and light. This heart-pounding show stops guests in their tracks, but afterward lures them to the display of cultural artifacts located proximate to the popular attraction. Behind the scenes, the illusion is created using steam generators and waterfalls colored with orange lights to mimic smoke and smoldering lava. Piped-in gas, hidden behind the massive structure, fuels the fire.

The skilled themed attraction designers and artisans at OTL are called upon by owners and theme park architects around the world to design, build and maximize the benefits inherent in exceptional rockwork and water features. Whether providing design-build services for a complete attraction or installing a single themed element, OTL can deliver magnificent rock mountains, caverns, arches, artificial trees, synthetic vines, realistic logs, roots, mud banks, or show fountains designed to meet the individualized needs of your park.

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If you would like to work with OTL’s team of skilled professionals, please contact us at:
(714) 637-4747 or email us at