Dark ride

Dark ride
Meeting Tigger at the Dark ride The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh in the Magic Kingdom.
Disney's "it's a small world" is a brightly lit "dark ride"
A market scene from "Fata Morgana", a ride in De Efteling.

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

In the United Kingdom and Australia, dark rides with a scary theme are called ghost trains. This name is usually reserved for mobile funfair type dark rides.

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[citation needed]. 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.

In Australia there is a dark ride named The Ghost Train at Luna Park, Melbourne, and a similarly named ride was destroyed by fire in 1979 at Luna Park Sydney.

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.

Other examples

(Now a part of Cedar Fair)

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.

External links

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