Especially when it comes to theme parks, putting a lighting plan in place requires extensive professional planning. When guests go to a theme park they expect the experience seamlessly transport them into an entirely different world. This can be easily achieved when guests see the effects lights have on rides, but to the actual lights themselves. Typically, a team of engineers formulate a lighting plan for rides to ensure the proper illumination scope, color, and effects. Even when it comes to areas of the park that are unrelated to the rides, lighting is still a part of a well-designed plan to achieve the best results for both appearance and function.
Frequently lights and audio are in sync to create the best effect. So, when it comes to rides, lighting has to be timed perfectly to coincide with any other elements that are present. In many cases, a ride will create a simulated experience and uses several elements to awaken the senses such as visuals, audio, and sensory devices. This even applies to rides that appear to be dark without a lot of lighting, there is still behind the scenes lighting that helps contribute to the experience. For example, many rides use a light projector and bounce the image of illumination off a wall to provide a softer focus to help accommodate the darkness of the ride. The issue of contrasting light levels is closely monitored on theme park rides.
There are many lighting systems for theme parks that are custom engineered, since the lighting is very different that what is found in most business types. The majority of businesses operate their lighting with an on/off switch that is similar to what is found in residential areas. However, a theme park has an entirely different setup, most have a panel of custom designed controls that operates all of the lighting elements. Even though some elements are on automatic timers, especially those near or on rides, there are several aspects which still require full-time operators that continuously monitor and the control the lighting panel.