Best Location For Amusement Park

Geog 4050/8056

Fall 03


Click here to see a PowerPoint Presentation for this project.



Click here to see a PowerPoint Presentation for this project.

Project Outline

        For my final project in Geographic Information Systems I was curious about where in Nebraska is the best location to put an amusement park.  Nebraska currently does not have any permanent fair-type parks in the state, nor does it have many tourist attractions to draw outsiders.  The attraction does not have to be a large theme park (i.e. Disney World); however, it should be large enough to draw people for many years.  With that being said, Nebraska is due for a medium size park and I will show you how I obtained my data for the research and used ArcMap to come up with the best location.


General Location

        The first research I did was to find a general area in which to put a 200 acre park.  Since Nebraska covers over 77,000 square miles of land, I needed to narrow down the area.  This was fairly easy to do.  Past family vacations and initial research ( showed me that all theme parks revolve around populated areas.  With Omaha and Lincoln in the east and the Sandhills in the west, Eastern Nebraska is obviously the most populated part of the state.  However, the park should not be located in anyone of these cities.  Omaha and Lincoln are the largest cities in the state, which makes them a great candidates, but the cities are still rapidly growing.  You would not want to build a park on what is now the edge of the city, only to have the city grow and totally encompass the park.  So a fairly large buffer needs to be put between the park and a large city. 

        The next issue on a location is the available transportation near the park.  All parks need an adequate roads to get visitors around smoothly; in fact, many amusement parks are location right off an interstate.  A developer could pick a site that has only county dirt roads around it; however, it would soon need to be paved and wided to support the traffic need.  This comes as an added cost to the park, so finding an existing major road is important.  In Nebraska, Interstate 80 is the only major road big enough to support a the traffic needs.  So the park would have to be somewhere close to I-80 and an exit.  That narrows the location of the park to a relatively small area, half way between Omaha and Lincoln and off of I-80.  There is already development around that area, including: Mahoney State Park, the Wildlife Safari, and the SAC Museum.  However, the as mentioned earlier a theme park revolves around a populated area.  Omaha has a greater population than Lincoln. So the location of the park should not be directly between the two cities, but a little closer to Omaha.  That brings the general location to around southwest Sarpy County.  Assuming all land that has not been urbanized is available, which is a large assumption, I started my search around that area.


Finding the Data

        Once I was able to locate a general area, it made it much easier to find data for my project.  Part of the assignment was to be able to located much of your data on your own.  I was able to find much of my data through two websites.  The internet is an ongoing maze of information, so knowing the general area of where I needed my data was very helpful in finding it.  The first website was the National Map Viewer site provided by the USGS.  There is a total of four map viewers on the site: the Original National Map Viewer, the new National Map Viewer, Seamless Data Distribution System Viewer, and the GISDATA Viewer.  Each viewer is an interactive map that lets users pick what type of data they want and about any location in the country.  The viewers have easy navigating tools and have many different layers  All of them contain slightly different types of data, so finding which viewer is best depends on the data needed. 

        For this project I only used two of the viewers from USGS to obtain data.  Each viewer has the capability for multiple dataset downloads which makes obtaining the data much faster.  With the new National Map Viewer I was able to download political boundaries, roads, cities, and hydrology.  With the Seamless Data Viewer I was able to download a 1/3" National Elevation Dataset (NED) or and DEM and a land cover map from 1992.  A benefit to using these viewers is that all downloads come as shapefiles, which makes using them in ArcMap much simpler. 

        Another website that I used to download data is from the Nebraska Natural Resources Data Clearinghouse.  At this site you can search for data by category

or by area.  If the user desires, they can use a simple interactive map to narrow down where they want data.  All the information at the site is Nebraska data, so the user does not have to worry about searching through other states data.  At this site I was able to download a detailed road map file provided by the U.S. Census TIGER and a Sarpy County land use vector file.  A downside to the site is all that downloads comes as ArcExport format, which adds an extra step in the working of the data.   


Working the Data

        With using two different websites, the data need to be slightly modified for it to be worked with in ArcMap.  First, all the data from the Data Clearinghouse had to be exported.  Using ArcImport I had to take all the .e00 extension files and convert them to shapefile.  A fairly easy process, but a extra step not needed from the USGS data.  However, the USGS data and the Clearinghouse data had different map projection that would not match if brought into ArcMap.  So, using ESRI's ArcToolbox I was able to modify the shapefile's projections.  I choose Albert's Equal Area Conic projection for all shapefiles in my project.

        After working with the data so it would match, I had to modify the roads shapefile.  The file had all the roads from the 2000 Census, but the roads were not ordinal classified; meaning, all the roads looked the same and wider roads were not thicker in the file.  This created a small problem since Interstate 80 went through the map, but it looked the same as a county dirt road.  So I had to export the I-80 polygon and create a new shapefile that would stick out more than the smaller roads.  Another area that needed to be worked on with the roads shapefile is the Interstate exits.  You could not easily decipher where an exit was located, so I had to find where in the area was an exit and create a shapefile for it also.  That way it was easier to locate both I-80 and Exit 432 on the map.   



        Landuse was another modification that needed to be made to a shapefile in ArcMap.  The landuse dataset came as a vector file and was not color classified.  I had to convert the vector file into a raster file, so that future maps would overlay easier on it.  Converting it also insured that when I was ready to work with the data ArcMap would be able to use the file for analysis.  Unfortunately the file came as with no color classification.  So using the ArcMap program I was able to find out which polygon was each type of landuse, and then assign a color to each six categories.  Luckily I did not have to do much modifying of my data.  I think that getting data from only two sources helped in limiting how much manipulation needed to be done.



Spatial Analyst

        After I got all my data modified, I was ready to start the analysis part of my project.  All of the analysis for my project was done using the Spatial Analyst function in ArcMap.  Spatial Analyst provides the user with a large range of powerful spatial modeling and analysis features which has been shown to us throughout the semester.  It has a variety of different functions that has helped me discover a location for an amusement park.  The following is a list of functions I have used and the results of each.

        - Hillshade

              The hillshade function calculates how each cell of a raster file would appear if it were

              illuminated by a light source.  It uses the digital elevation model (DEM) for its

              calculation.  Once it was created you can immediately notice the large floodplain

              northwest of I-80.  You can also easily see how much hills are in the southern part of

              Sarpy County.  Hillshade does not serve too much an analysis function; however, it does

              give the map more of a three-dimensional appearance which can be seen throughout the

              rest of the project.


        - Slope

              The slope function computes the maximum rate of change between each cell on the

              DEM.  I used this to determine where the steepest slopes are in the area.  Green colors

              indicate flat surface, while red shows a steep area.  Notice the affects of the Platte

              River, and how it was cut into the land.  Again this function illustrates the floodplain

              well.  Using this spatial function automatically eliminates a large section for park

              development.  The flatter the land the better, so any area in red is not a wise place to

              build a park due to the cost of flattening the area.

        - Viewshed

              The viewshed is a utility that calculates the cells in a triangulation irregular network (TIN) that can be

              seen from one or more observation points or lines.  The first image is any area that can be seen (Green)

              from I-80.  This is important because most of the park should be seen from the interstate.  If it is visible

              then I believe it will be a greater attendance draw, plus it is free advertisement since thousands of

              drivers would pass by on I-80 daily.  With that said, I can eliminated certain large areas on the map that

              are in red.  The other viewshed map that was created was using where the Platte River can be seen from.

              This is also another important factor because the park should have a scenic view.  About the only

              uniquely scenic out in southwest Sarpy is the braided Platte River.  Viewshed has become one of the

              most important functions in this project.

        - Cost Weighted

              Cost weighted finds the least accumulative cost from each cell to the nearest or cheapest

              source.  In this case, I-80 is the source and the elevation is the cost factor.  A developer

              does not want to spend too much money on building far from the interstate and elevation

              would be the made hurtle.  Notice the affect that the Platte has over the cost.  Where the

              floodplain is the cost stays low, while is quickly goes up in the hilly areas.


        After using those Spatial Analyst functions I had five new datasets.  However, all five of them need to be reclassified.  The process of reclassifying data is to ensure the program knows what values in the datasets have more meaning.  This is done by looking at each dataset and ordering most important (10) to least (1).  Landuse was order from forest being the best place to put a park to urban which is the last place to build.  The I-80 and Platte River viewshed were ordered so that any area that can be seen from the respected spot was a 10, and not seen was a 1.  Slope was reclassified so that the green shades had higher priorities than the red.  And the cost from I-80 dataset was reclassified so that the lighter colors (less cost) were better than the dark.

                Landuse                  I-80 View                 Platte View                       Slope                        I-80 Cost



        Once the reclassifications were complete, I used the Raster Calculator function to calculate what the program thinks is the best spots for the amusement park.  The Raster Calculator function takes any raster datasets and performs Map Algebra on each set to come up with a solution.  I had to choose what factors were most important to perform this task.  Keep in mind these numbers are arbitrary, there many be other factors involved in deciding.  I decided that the view from the Platte River was the greatest factor, while the landuse was not as big of a factor considering must land in the region is crop land.  The following was the breakdown:  

    Platte View    40%

    I-80 View        20%

    Slope                20%

    I-80 Cost         15%

    Landuse             5%


Best Locations

        After performing the calculations, the program came up with best locations for the park.  Light values are best areas for the parks, while dark areas are not good places.  I have highlighted three area that could possibly work.



Narrowing the Options

         Location #1

       At first glance this location looks to be the best area out of the three.  It has a large flat area, and it is

       close to I-80 and the Platte River.  However, that whole area is a FEMA floodplain.  So building here

       might be a mistake if the area was to be hit with a flood. 

   Location #2

       This spot seems alright.  It is close to an exit off the interstate, and has a good I-80 view.  But, the area is

       too small to develop a 200 acre park and the slope is a little too intense for a amusement park.

         Location #3

              The last spot has got it all.  It has a great I-80 and Platte view and it is close to Exit 432 so there is quick

              access to the park.  It is also close to the small town of Melia, which could benefit with restaurants and

              hotels.  The location looks like it might be on the floodplain; however, there is a 20 foot difference in

              elevation from the FEMA floodplain and the parks purposed location.


Final Layout

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