Along with the questions about autonomy, self, and what it means to be real, Westworld also stirs up mysteries of a more practical nature. Namely, how does this giant park even work?
One thing we have seen in the show is that the staff can come into the park at night, dressed in containment suits for some reason. Sometimes, the hosts can all be frozen while the staff comes in to fix a problem.
We also know that the hosts have “loops,” i.e. a pattern that they repeat until a guest interrupts and engages them in a storyline. And once that’s done, they return to their loop. Dolores’ loop involves waking up at home, greeting her father on the porch, going into town and dropping a can, and seeing that her love Teddy has returned. (It also contains painting. A lot of paintings. Dolores should have a house filled with copies of what is probably the same painting by now.)
Which is a little funny and he probably wasn’t expecting a response from Westworld showrunner Jonathan Nolan, who has only posted in reddit about Westworld two other times: once to respond to “he does monitor reddit” with “No I don’t” and once to tell someone who said they were afraid of an AI that purposely failed the Turing test with “Boy have we got a show for you!”
But Nolan did respond to mattdezine’s question, saying “doesn’t look like anything to me”—a direct reference to what the park’s hosts say when they see an image that doesn’t conform to the “wild west” reality they’re supposed to believe in. They’re programmed to simply not see it. Nolan’s response also links out to this gif:
Now, I can’t quite tell if this is a deleted scene from a previous episode or a regular scene from a future episode, but it does show one of the suited-up staff members rifling through Dolores’ stash of paintings. (Or really, her pile of copies of the one painting.) It looks like part of what the staff does isn’t just picking up the “dead” hosts for repair; they also maintain the park’s illusions by clearing out things like Dolores’ paintings. She probably has no idea she’s completed it so many times.
If how the park runs interests you about as much as what’s happening in the park, there’s actually a fair amount of information online. Discover Westworld is a website that is the “official” website of the park, and it lets you “sign up” for a park experience. It has a map of the park, which shows you just how much of it Ford has commandeered for his project and gives you a sense of where Dolores’ family farm is in relation to, say, where she is now. It also gives descriptions of some of the park’s other locations.
Examining that page’s code will bring up the terms and conditions for guests, which is, obviously, all about making sure no guest can sue Delos for anything that happens to them. It also lists the way guests have died in the park in the past and gives Delos the right to any part of your body—hair, skin, blood, etc.—guests leave behind.
There’s also the Delos website, which brings up emails between staff members which also reveal things like glitches going on for weeks and an admonition against... experimenting... with the animal hosts.
There’s a lot going on at the park which may not be plot relevant but is very satisfying to know. And thanks to Jonathan Nolan hanging out on Reddit, we now know a little bit more.