- Dark ride
A dark ride or ghost train (United Kingdom and Australia) is an indoor amusement ride where riders in guided vehicles travel through specially lit scenes that typically contain animation, sound, music, and special effects.
A dark ride does not have to be dark. They are enclosed, so all illumination is artificial, and most use special lighting to achieve theatrical effects. Selective use of darkness helps hide the ride mechanisms and increase the visual drama of the experience. Disney's It's a Small World is an example of a brightly lit dark ride.
The first dark rides appeared in the late 19th century, and were called "scenic railways" and "pleasure railways". A popular type of dark ride, commonly referred to as an Old Mill or Tunnel Of Love, used small boats to carry riders through water-filled canals. Leon Cassidy of the Pretzel Amusement Ride Company patented the first single-rail electric dark ride in 1928. Historically notable dark rides include Futurama at the 1939 New York World's Fair and Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland. Blackpool Pleasure Beach also has a collection of dark rides.
Modern attractions in this genre vary widely in their use of technology. Smaller-scale rides often feature the same sorts of simple animation and sounds that have been used since the early days of the genre, while more ambitious projects can feature complex audio-animatronics, special effects, and unconventional ride vehicles.
To improve the effect and give a sense of journey, tunnels of dark rides curve and bend frequently, and sudden tight curves in the tunnels give a sense of surprise. They also allow new scenes to surprise the rider. Tunnels may also feature sudden ascents or descents to further the excitement of the ride.
United Kingdom and Australia
The first ride to use the name "ghost train" was that of Blackpool Pleasure Beach. The name came from The Ghost Train, a popular play of the time. Pleasure Beach Blackpool is also home to the world's largest indoor dark ride with Valhalla, known for its many complicated albeit often unreliable effects.
Notable UK dark rides include: Fifth Dimension, (later rethemed as Terror Tomb, which is now a laser ride named Tomb Blaster) and Bubbleworks, both at Chessington World of Adventures; Duel (formerly the Haunted House) at Alton Towers; Valhalla at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
Shooting dark ride
A shooting dark ride is an interactive type of dark ride where riders aim for targets throughout the ride. Each vehicle is equipped with hand-held or vehicle-mounted light guns. Successfully "shooting" a target usually triggers special animation such as flashing lights or moving the target. The more targets a rider hits, the higher their score at the end of the ride.
Some conventional dark rides have been converted to shooting dark rides to increase popularity, such as the case with Duel: The Haunted House Strikes Back! at Alton Towers. Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin at Disney's Magic Kingdom uses facilities that previously housed If You Had Wings (sponsored by Eastern Airlines in the 1970s and 1980s), Delta Dreamflight and Take Flight before it was converted into its current interactive form, which combines new show elements and vehicles with the former ride's layout and track system.
- Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin 1994 at Disneyland/Tokyo Disneyland
- The Haunted Mansion 1969 at Disneyland/Magic Kingdom/and Tokyo Disneyland
- Phantom Manor 1992 at Disneyland Park (Paris)
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh 1999 at Magic Kingdom (was Mr. Toad's Wild Ride until 1998)
- It's a Small World 1966 at Disneyland/Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom/Tokyo Disneyland/Disneyland Park (Paris)/and Hong Kong Disneyland
- Piraten in Batavia 1987 at Europa-Park
- Geisterschloss 1982 at Europa-Park
- Universum der Energie 1994 at Europa-Park
- Abenteuer Atlantis 2007 at Europa-Park
- Ciao Bambini 1982 at Europa-Park after 2011 refurbishment Piccolo Mondo
- Musical Circus at Parque Espana
- Magical Powder at Lagunasia
- Labyrinth of the Minotaur 1999 at Terra Mitica Theme Park, Spain.
- Buzz Lightyear attractions 2000 at all of Disney's Magic Kingdom/Disneyland-style parks
- Toy Story Midway Mania! 2008 at Disney's California Adventure and Disney's Hollywood Studios
- Men in Black: Alien Attack 2000 at Universal Studios Florida
- Scooby-Doo rides at all former Paramount Parks (Now a part of Cedar Fair)
- Phantom Theatre which once housed the aforementioned Scooby-Doo ride at the Paramount Parks (Now a part of Cedar Fair)
- Boo Blasters on Boo Hill which is currently housed in the aforementioned Scooby-Doo ride at the Paramount Parks
(Now a part of Cedar Fair)
- Spaceship Earth 1995 at Epcot
- Gobbler Getaway 2005 at Holiday World
- Ghost Blasters 2006 at Nickelodeon Universe
- Shootout at the Flooded Mine2004 at Silver Dollar City
- Challenge of Tutankhamon2001 at Walibi Belgium
- Mr. Toad's Wild Ride 1955 at Disneyland
- Ghostwood Estate 2008 at Kennywood
- Reese's Xtreme Cup Challenge 2000 at Hersheypark
- Challenge of Mondor 2008 at Enchanted Forest (Oregon)
- Droomvlucht 1993 at De Efteling
- Marionette Ride at Hamanako Pal Pal
- Fata Morgana 1986 at De Efteling
- Sanrio Character Boat Ride at Harmonyland
- Carnival Festival 1984 at De Efteling
- Hartenhof 2013 at De Efteling
- Splash Mountain 2003 at Disneyland, Magic Kingdom, and Tokyo Disneyland
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey 2010 at Islands of Adventure
- Dinosaur 1998 at Disney's Animal Kingdom
- Peter Pan's Flight 1955 at Disneyland/Magic Kingdom/Tokyo Disneyland/and Disneyland Park (Paris)
- The Curse of DarKastle 2005 at Busch Gardens Williamsburg
- Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye 1995 at Disneyland
- Kingdom of the Dinosaurs 1987 at Knott's Berry Farm
- The Whacky Shack 1982 at Joyland Amusment Park
Uses of the term in Popular Culture
On The John Larroquette Show Larroquette's character hung a carnival sign in his office during the first episode: "This is a Dark Ride." He suggested the sign should also be posted "at the end of the birth canal"
Halloween has a song and album called "The Dark Ride."
The 2006 horror movie Dark Ride, starring Jamie-Lynn Sigler, focused on an escaped killer haunting an amusement-park ride.
- Laff In The Dark: Information and history of the dark ride and funhouse amusement industry
- The Darkride and Funhouse Enthusiasts (DAFE)
- The Haunted Report, blog covering the haunted attraction/dark ride industry
- Autumn Chill, an international directory of dark rides, haunted attractions and ghost tours
- Haunted Attraction magazine, trade publication for the haunted attraction industry
- The Bill Tracy Project: Dark Ride Builder
- Sally Corporation: Dark Ride Builder
- Haunted House Canada: Haunted House In Ontario Canada
- Chuck's Dark Rides: This page is for those interested in amusement park dark rides past & present around the country
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