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How could you calculate a park’s capacity?

Matt N

Well-Known Member
Hi guys. With COVID-19 forcing parks across the world to restrict entry, capacity is coming into conversation a lot more than it perhaps used to. However, I was wondering; is there any way you could do a rough calculation of a park’s maximum capacity? The only way I could think of is to add up the hourly throughput of all of the rides, but that seems a little too crude. Does anyone know any more?
 

Hixee

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It's not quite as simple as that, unfortunately.

The biggest factor for determining the park's maximum capacity is actually not related to the rides at all, it's more to do with the 'safety' aspect of things. My experience is mostly around buildings, but you can extrapolate outwards from there. There will be differences (outdoor spaces are covered by different regulations), but the principles are broadly the same.
  • How many fire exits are there? In an emergency, you wouldn't want to have everyone trying to squeeze out of a single narrow exit point (partly as 'what happens if the exit is blocked', but also to avoid crushes, etc). Either reduce the theoretical maximum capacity, or provide more exits. Worth pointing out that for buildings, this "maximum fire occupancy" is often significantly higher than you would ever truly expect (factors of safety, etc).
  • How many entrances are there for emergency services? If you can only get an ambulance in one entrance three miles away from the end of the park, you'd better reduce the risk of an accident. Or provide more entrances? Nice if you can.
  • How many facilities can the park actually support? There are regulations that govern how many toilets you need to provide for a given number of people, and by extension you can work out water and drainage you need. Some sites will have restrictions on this!
  • How much land area do you have for all those people? No good having a park surrounded by fire exits, tons of loos, etc, if more than 2000 people would turn it into a scrum.
  • How much parking do you have? No good having a park that can handle 10,000 people if you've only got parking for 1000 (and, let's say, less than decent public transport).
  • Will the local public infrastructure (roads or buses or trams or whatever) be able to cope with your park kicking out all guests at closing time without causing total gridlock?
  • I bet I've missed dozens of other factors...
So the specific capacities for specific parks are usually something you can calculate 'for fun'. They're agreed with the authorities, insurers, operations teams, everything. Parks will, generally, have most of the boxes ticked, so I would suggest the simplest thing to do would be to get as many capacity figures you can from different parks and work out what that equates to as a 'people per square meter'. You may find (ignoring some weird outliers like Alton or Grona) that the number works out to something roughly average.

Other than that, I wouldn't get hung up in the detail. :p
 

Nicky Borrill

Active Member
What Hixee said is spot on in general terms... But for Covid specifically the advice we had initially was no more than 1 person per 4m2... This allows there to be a minimum of 1 metre in each direction, so 2 metres between each person. This also allows for excess space as not every person will be solo, meaning they can group up close to their own party.

The latest suggestion for pubs has changed a little though, it’s now suggested we’ll need to space out tables and only allow seated guests, which potentially gives us more capacity, unless everyone visits in 1s and 2s.

Wouldn’t be surprised if it changes again before we open. 😩
 

Matt N

Well-Known Member
It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the distance is reduced again before pubs reopen; Boris has said he would like to look at doing a 1.5m or 1m distance instead of the full 2m in the future. So that should help your pub to be able to have more people in it.

Thanks very much for the interesting info @Nicky Borrill!
 

Nicky Borrill

Active Member
It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the distance is reduced again before pubs reopen; Boris has said he would like to look at doing a 1.5m or 1m distance instead of the full 2m in the future. So that should help your pub to be able to have more people in it.

Thanks very much for the interesting info @Nicky Borrill!
1m would give us almost full capacity, with a bit of adjustment... We have areas of the pub where tables are already spaced out more than 1m (Large dog friendly lounge)

But at the minute we’re still working on all initial trade being outdoors.
 

Matt N

Well-Known Member
1m would give us almost full capacity, with a bit of adjustment... We have areas of the pub where tables are already spaced out more than 1m (Large dog friendly lounge)

But at the minute we’re still working on all initial trade being outdoors.
I bet 1m would give you guys some fantastic business if the government did decide to go down that route eventually!

I wish you and your pub the best of luck over the next few months, as I know that this period has been challenging for the hospitality sector, but I’m starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. It will all be fine soon enough!
 

Hixee

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I appreciate the spirit of this question and was happy for it to live in its own thread, but please can we keep general Covid stuff to the main thread in General Discussions?
 

Matt N

Well-Known Member
I appreciate the spirit of this question and was happy for it to live in its own thread, but please can we keep general Covid stuff to the main thread in General Discussions?
Of course @Hixee; apologies for going off-topic. I more meant to ask the question in a more general way as opposed to being about COVID.
 
Hixee is correct, there are many factors that determine how many people can fit in a park.

The limit is usually worked out and imposed by the company providing the parks public liability insurance. They look at things like spacing between buildings and rides, how many toilet and eating facilities there are and their capacities. Wether the park has a service road that can be accessed easily both from outside and inside. How many people can be evacuated from the park if half of the available exits are blocked.
Believe it or not but ride capacity is actually taken into account, specifically the queue capacity. You have to plan how to quickly and safely shift 3000 people stood shoulder to shoulder without causing a stampede or a crush.

When I last worked for Thorpe, the parks capacity was around 15000. This may have more to do with the fact that there are only 3 ways off the island and only one is used in normal operation. That may seem like a small number of people in the grand scheme of things but we all know how packed that place can get even at quiet times.
In contrast, 15000 people could easily hide in Alton to the point where you could walk around the whole park and see almost noone.
 
Neither did I until I started paying attention to what went on outside my department as it puzzled me as to why the park always seemed so busy even during school time. I remember the figure of 15000 being tossed about by admissions when they stopped letting people into the park. The only time attendance figures ever really affected my work was when operations were deciding how many trains they wanted on the coasters at the start of the day. I would imagine the capacity has gone up though with the addition of Swarm and the dry land it sits on as this also opened up the second service road access.
 

Matt N

Well-Known Member
Neither did I until I started paying attention to what went on outside my department as it puzzled me as to why the park always seemed so busy even during school time. I remember the figure of 15000 being tossed about by admissions when they stopped letting people into the park. The only time attendance figures ever really affected my work was when operations were deciding how many trains they wanted on the coasters at the start of the day. I would imagine the capacity has gone up though with the addition of Swarm and the dry land it sits on as this also opened up the second service road access.
Given that Thorpe gets nearly as many visitors as Towers (although the Smiler crash and the events following have probably scuppered Towers somewhat as of late), I was extremely surprised that it had only just over 50% of Towers’ capacity!
 

JoshC.

Active Member
Given that Thorpe gets nearly as many visitors as Towers (although the Smiler crash and the events following have probably scuppered Towers somewhat as of late), I was extremely surprised that it had only just over 50% of Towers’ capacity!
A simple answer to this is to not trust the attendance figures that are posted via TEA. Plenty of parks who don't release their attendance figures directly certainly fudge their numbers, Merlin included.

Also, as a fun fact: during Thorpe's last official fireworks event way back in 2011, the park had to limit capacity to around 8k. I believe this was because the main bridge was used a viewing area for the show, meaning that one of the emergency exits effectively couldn't be treated as such.
 
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