ORCA has conducted studies at:

  • 30+ national parks, recreation areas, and historical sites such as the Statue of Liberty, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, Yosemite National Park, USS Arizona Memorial, Muir Woods National Monument, and the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center;
  • 30+ aquariums including the Georgia Aquarium, Monterey Bay Aquarium and Shedd Aquarium;
  • 50+ museums and science centers including the Carnegie Museums, Exploratorium, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, California Academy of Sciences, and Spaceport USA;
  • 30+ zoos and botanical gardens including the National Zoo, San Diego Zoo, Brookfield Zoo, and Naples Botanic Gardens;
  • 30+ theme parks and expositions (e.g.: Expo 2015 in Milan); 20+ visitor centers and tours, 14 transportation projects, 7 entertainment and shopping venues, and 5 major sports arenas (e.g.: Yankee Stadium).

Several current and completed projects demonstrate ORCA’s experience and qualifications:


The Kuwait Scientific Center – Kuwait

The Kuwait Scientific Center is currently undergoing a 46,000 sq.m. expansion of their museum facilities.  ORCA Consulting has been supporting the project with assessments of attendance forecasts, supportable visitation capacity, recommendations of sizing, configuration, and adjacencies for the all public components (attractions, exhibits, circulation spaces, ticketing & admissions, Food & beverage, retail, restrooms, etc.), projected utilization of the planned spaces, parking requirements, forecasted flow volumes/patterns for visitors and employees.


Central Place Observation Deck

For the Central Place Observation Deck, ORCA developed a comprehensive plan for completing and operating the venue to create both a favorable visitor experience and a profitable business.  The management and programming plan developed by ORCA not only provided the owner, project architect and designers with detailed recommendations for completing

their plans, but was also accepted at public hearings with very few comments or changes.  

The management and programming plan completed by ORCA detailed attendance design factors, operating schedules and staffing plans, layouts for public and back-of-house area, operating and equipment requirements, recommended operating procedures; and estimated pre-opening and stabilized year operating labor and expense budgets.

California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, CA

To support the design, layout and operations of their new building, ORCA provided the California Academy of Sciences (Cal Academy) with extensive analyses and recommendations for managing visitation and crowd distribution during busy attendance periods. The analyses include detailed assessments of the planned two entry lobbies, Rainforest, Planetarium, Aquarium, rooftop observation deck, concessions and building entrances.

Based on the extensive experience of the ORCA team and interviews with science centers, museums and aquariums, ORCA documented and evaluated industry best practices and recommended adaptations and effective implementation methods for operational strategies suited to the specific needs and issues Cal Academy faced.



Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, CA

ORCA has enjoyed a long and productive working relationship with Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA). Since 1994, ORCA has supported several exhibit expansions, which help create significant contributions to the final designs.  When MBA attendance grew to four times the level that the spaces were designed for, ORCA was asked to address crowding issues. ORCA conducted an assessment of attendance peaking and visitor utilization of all public areas of the Aquarium complex. This assessment identified and quantified major findings, including: a significant imbalance in crowding levels within the Aquarium on busy days; circulation gridlock in the Aquarium entrance areas; and attendance capacity limitations on busy days that resulted in significant lost attendance. ORCA then developed recommendations for ticketing and circulation modifications to improve circulation patterns throughout the Aquarium. ORCA supplemented the entry complex capacity analysis with a financial analysis showing that a portion of the capital cost could be recovered by recouping attendance that was being lost on peak days due to capacity constraints.  

Miami Science Museum  

ORCA supported the master plan for this science museum with assessments of operations, visitation capacity, and visitor flow for this multi-level/multi-component museum.  With several major exhibit areas on multiple levels, ORCA’s work ensured that visitor throughput capacity would be balanced throughout the museum, including vertical transportation consisting of elevators and stairs.  The sizing and configuration of the entry complex was a particular challenge due to the constrained spaces and adjacencies to the retail and special exhibition areas. 


Statue of Liberty National Monument

ORCA was contracted to spearhead the effort to reopen the Statue of Liberty Monument after almost three year of being closed to visitors for security reasons. Major challenges included the need to develop a new and meaningful visitor experience and train newly hired guides to effectively present this experience, the goal to substantially reduce the prior long waiting lines (in excess of 3 hours) for Monument access, and integrating new security measures – all within a short time frame and high-visibility environment.

In December of 2003, the Superintendent of the Statue of Liberty National Monument was directed to reopen the interior of the Monument (which had been closed since 9/11/01) to visitors by August 1, 2004. Within this 8-month timeframe, the team assembled by the National Park Service and managed by ORCA Consulting developed and implemented:

  • a new visitor experience to replace the previous climb to the Statue’s crown;
  • a reservation and timed ticket system for the Monument tour integrated with the ferry ticket system;
  • new tour routes;
  • a new security screening system and bag check facility at the Monument;
  • a new signage package; and
  • operating procedures and training for the new guide service staff.


In addition to planning and managing the development of new tour experience, ORCA took a hands-on role in the opening by conducting pre-opening test and adjust events to shake down operations, verify operating capacities, verify operating procedures (including evacuation procedures and the sustainability of operations), build operating efficiencies, and provide “hands on” training for employees. The Monument reopening, which was covered extensively by the media, was conducted on schedule on August 1, 2004. The new Monument tour has operated smoothly from Day 1 and continues to function effectively as initially designed.

Since the Monument reopening, ORCA Consulting has been called back regularly to support planning issues at Liberty Island and Ellis Island, including evaluation of several relocation alternatives for the Battery Park ferry dock and security screening. ORCA also supported development of a new General Management Plan for the islands with capacity calculations and the analysis of the impact of alternative enhancement plans. In addition, ORCA was contracted to collect and analyze visitation data for both Liberty and Ellis Islands. ORCA conducted extensive visitor surveys at both locations at different times of year to determine seasonality trends in visitor demographics, trip planning characteristics of different visitor groups, and to gauge visitor satisfaction with the redesigned tour experience and other aspects of their visits.

U.S. Capitol Visitor Center

ORCA Consulting provided visitor circulation, attendance capacity, and operations planning support throughout the development and construction phases for the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, ensuring that the planned areas and facilities within the CVC could support the anticipated peak attendance volumes.  ORCA’s scope included assessments of security screening, reservations-ticketing-admissions, two introductory theaters, one events theater, museum spaces, theater queueing, retail, dining, restrooms, baggage check, museum gallery, wayfinding signage (exterior and interior), circulation spaces (including tunnel connection to Library of Congress), Capitol building tour organization and dispatch, tour routing options within the Capitol building, development of operating hours and staff schedules, development of operating procedures, and animated simulation modeling (for Congressional hearing).

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