2019 Cornell Theme Park Design Competition

WhiteWater’s Nathan Jones is back in the office after a weekend trip to Coney Island to present the WhiteWater-sponsored Development Award at the 2019 Cornell Theme Park Design Competition. Over the last four years, this competition has grown from a dozen US entries to global submissions from over 60 teams, from universities around the world including Brazil and the UK. WhiteWater’s been supporting this initiative to get universities involved in our industry in a real-world format for a few years. Teams are asked to design an expansion area of a theme park complete with storyline and ride selection, which made for a great taste for the stimulating career this industry can provide.


Kelly Sall, a true industry enthusiast and Product Manager for WhiteWater’s Water Ride portfolio, was one of the judges this year who commented, “the professionalism of the top entries was impressive. They showed great attention to detail, took a holistic approach to the whole land, and displayed a good understanding of how to make inclusiveness a natural aspect of the design.”

The judging panel included JRA, FORREC, and Zamperla, who kindly hosted the judges and some of the entrants at Coney Island’s Luna Park, this weekend. The winning team came from the University of California San Diego, who presented a detailed thematic prehistoric journey through ‘Glacier Gorge’, the runners up were from Savannah College of Art and Design.


Nathan Jones expressed how impressed he was with the winning submission which he described as, “on par with the concept renderings that one would expect from professionals within the industry. The ideas were creative and unique and give us high hopes for the next generation of talent in our industry.”

Many entries were not only creative but practical, displaying engineering and technical understanding, alongside artistic, storytelling, and park operations issues such as accessibility and food and beverage ancillary revenue opportunities.

Congratulations to the winners!

Dawn Kirby