Gator Theme Park Engineering and Design Club
President – Olivia Grinage
External Vice President – Brandon Lam
Internal Vice President – Lauren McConkey
Treasurer – Elliot Myers
Dr. Jonathan Brooks
Purpose and Mission
Gator Theme Park Engineering & Design (Gator TPED) is a multidisciplinary student organization at the University of Florida that focuses on growing students professionally, technically, and socially through events relevant to the themed entertainment industry. This is accomplished through industry tours, guest speakers, networking events, and design projects.
On UF campus, Gator TPED currently has 4 Design Teams: Animatronic Design Team, Ride Restraint Design Team, Haunted House Design Team, and Creative Design Team. Members meet weekly to conceptualize ideas for a wide range of themed entertainment projects!
The Animatronic Design Team is focused on creating a working animatronic head that will be fully functional and include four movable elements. The team will incorporate aspects of mechanical and electrical engineering, creative design, and project management to have a design finalized by the end of this semester and begin assembly of the full-scale model in Spring of 2024.
The Ride Restraint Design Team is focused on creating a full-size ride seat with a functional restraint system. This will involve designing, prototyping, and building a full-scale model of a ratcheting Class-5 ride restraint system. This project will involve multiple disciplines to create the documentation, mechanical and electrical systems, and controls. The team intends to have a design finalized by the end of this semester and begin assembly of the full-scale model in Spring of 2024.
The Haunted House Design Team is the first and only team at UF focused on designing and building a Haunted House. This project brings together students from different disciplines to design and construct a themed haunted house completely from scratch. In Spring of 2023, the Swamp Haunters hosted The Crimson Carnival, a full-scale haunted house that featured seven immersive rooms, an animatronic, over a dozen scare actors, and other SFX elements. You’ll get another chance to experience The Crimson Carnival in Fall 2023 (October 27-31) and Swamp Haunters will be developing a new house to debut in Spring of 2024!
The Creative Design Team focuses on creating theme park lands from scratch using concept sketching, 3D modeling, and more. This semester, Creative Design Team is designing an original themed land named “Igneous Springs.” Team members are working both individually and collaboratively to engineer, design, and develop a series of structures that work together to form a complete theme park land. These structures consist of walkthrough attractions, gift shops, restrooms, shows, and restaurants. Using a variety of mediums, Creative Design Team fosters artistic development while tapping into the technical aspects of themed entertainment.
Finally, the Coaster Design Team previously 3D printed a scaled rollercoaster model of the “IntimiGator,” which was designed by Gator TPED and is on display in UF’s Herbert Wertheim Laboratory for Engineering Excellence.
Gator TPED members compete in the Toronto Metropolitan University Thrill Design Invitational with Universal Creative annually. In 2018, the team earned First Place Overall, Best Rollercoaster, and Best Mechanical Design, and in 2019 earned First Place Attraction Design. In 2022, the multidisciplinary team of 8 students was commended for both creative and technical skills in 4 different engineering-centered prompts. Gator TPED also hosts our very own design competition, Swamp Thrills, each spring. Teams from UF and other universities collaborate to design a themed attraction and then professionally pitch their project to industry professionals. Finally, Gator TPED members actively attend professional events including ASTM F24 Conference, IAAPA Expo, SKYnext presented by Skyline Attractions, and TEA NextGen events. Our students have interned with or entered full-time positions with Universal Creative, The Walt Disney Company, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Skyline Attractions, Animax Designs, Roush, Nassal, BRPH, PGAV Destinations, ThemeWorks, and more!
We welcome students of all majors to join Gator TPED, whether you’re an engineer, a designer, or you just love theme parks! All announcements are made via our Instagram and Discord. Go Gators, Go TPED!