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A dark ride or ghost train is an indoor amusement ride on which passengers aboard guided vehicles travel through specially lit scenes that typically contain animation, sound, music and special effects.Appearing as early as the 19th century, such exhibits include tunnels of love, scary themes and interactive stories.
In its most traditional form, the term dark ride refers to ride-through attractions with scenes that use black lights, whereby visible light is prevented from entering the space, and only show elements that fluoresce under ultraviolet radiation are seen by the riders. The size of each room containing a scene or scenes is thus concealed, and the set designer can use forced perspective, Pepper's ghost and other visual tricks to create the illusion of distance. Typically, these experiences also use a series of opaque doors between scenes to further control riders' views within a space-constrained building. Prominent examples include Disneyland's Snow White's Scary Adventures, Pinocchio's Daring Journey, Peter Pan's Flight, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride and Alice in Wonderland, which all rely on the use of blacklights in almost every scene.
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. A Trip to the Moon began operation at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition. Marvin Rempfer and 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 and The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland.
Modern attractions in this genre vary widely in technical sophistication. Smaller-scale rides often feature the same sorts of simple animation and sounds used since the genre's early days, while more ambitious projects feature complex animatronics, special effects and ride vehicles utilizing cutting-edge technology.
To improve the effect and give a sense of journey, passages in dark rides frequently change direction. Sudden curves give a sense of disorientation and allow new scenes to surprise the rider. The rides may also feature sudden ascents or descents to further the excitement.
Although ever increasing investments are made in dark rides, empirical research in this area is relatively scarce. Based on a systematic literature review, a team of researchers from the University of Liechtenstein developed a model that illustrates the underlying effect mechanism that attendees of Dark Rides experience. The model suggests that "Storytelling" in Dark Rides influences an attendee's "emotional attachment" to the ride through the mediator of "Immersion". It is assumed that a person's prior knowledge about the ride's story and a person's cultural background have moderating effects on the relationship between "storytelling" and "immersion".
Dark rides have a number of variations that are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
In the United Kingdom, the United States, the Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, China and Australia, dark rides with a scary theme are called ghost trains.[ citation needed ]
The first ride to use the name "Ghost Train" was that of Blackpool Pleasure Beach.The ride was imported in 1930 and originally called The Pretzel (due to the curving shape of its track layout); but as pretzels were little-known in Britain, it was soon renamed after The Ghost Train , a play which ran for a year in London, a film adaptation of which was showing in 1931. It was rebuilt in 1936 and has remained unchanged since. Blackpool Pleasure Beach is also home to Valhalla, the world's largest indoor dark ride, known for its many complex effects.
Prolific designers of dark rides in the UK include Keith Sparks and John Wardley between the 1970s and 1990s. Notable UK dark rides include Phantom Fantasia at Thorpe Park; The 5th Dimension, Terror Tomb, The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure and Professor Burp's Bubbleworks at Chessington World of Adventures; Around The World in 80 Days, The Haunted House, Toyland Tours and Hex – The Legend of the Towers at Alton Towers; and Valhalla at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. (Not a ghost train per se, Derren Brown's Ghost Train at Thorpe Park is a motion simulation and virtual reality attraction.)
In Australia, a dark ride is named The Ghost Train at Luna Park, Melbourne,and a similarly-named ride was destroyed by fire in 1979 at Luna Park Sydney.
The concept is also popular in the United States. One notable ghost train from the country is The Haunted Mansion, first opened in Disneyland in Anaheim, California on August 9, 1969.
Interactive dark rides feature a component that allows riders to be involved in the attraction's story. The first interactive dark ride ever built is El Paso at the Belgium theme park Bobbejaanland.
The vast majority of interactive dark rides are shooting dark rides, 500 feet (150 m).which require riders to aim and shoot at targets throughout the ride using handheld or vehicle-mounted light guns. Successfully shooting a target usually triggers special animation, such as flashing lights or moving the target. The more targets riders hit, the higher their scores at the end of the ride. The use of light guns varies between rides, from killing aliens on Men in Black: Alien Attack at Universal Studios Florida to calling turkeys on Gobbler Getaway at Holiday World & Splashin' Safari. The ride systems of conventional dark rides can be easily converted into shooting dark rides. Such conversions include Duel: The Haunted House Strikes Back! at Alton Towers and Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin at Disney's Magic Kingdom. The latter uses facilities that previously housed If You Had Wings, Delta Dreamflight, and Take Flight. A recent dark ride, Wonder Mountain's Guardian at Canada's Wonderland, has the world's longest interactive screen at over
Among non-shooting interactive dark rides, Etnaland'saward-winning Haunted School is described by Park World magazine as "one of the most idiosyncratic dark rides". It is themed to a school exam, with riders individually answering multiple-choice questions throughout it. Riders are graded on their responses, and each receives a school report at the end of the ride. While technically a coaster, the Gekion Live coaster at Joypolis had elements of a dark ride. It used to have a shooting element, only for it to be refurbished with a dance element (tapping buttons on the restraints) later.
Trackless dark rides utilize automated guided vehicles that do not require guide rails, and thus are able to cross existing paths, reverse, and rotate. Some trackless dark rides, such as the Big Red Car Ride at Dreamworld, rely on a buried wire for navigation. Others, such as Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disneyland Park, Mystic Manor at Hong Kong Disneyland or Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy at Disneyland Paris and Epcot, use Wi-Fi and RFID-based local positioning systems.
While some roller coasters may be indoors, simply enclosing a roller coaster does not make it a dark ride. Dark coasters are roller coasters that feature heavily themed layouts, special effects (such as animated characters, fire, smoke, and sound/lighting effects), and a dark ride portion that abruptly transitions into a roller coaster-style layout with heavily banked turns, sharp turns, steep drops, and helices. Some of them include backward motion, and many have launch mechanisms rather than lifts. Examples include:
Test Track at Epcot, Journey to the Center of the Earth at Tokyo DisneySea, and Radiator Springs Racers at Disney California Adventure each use a slot car track rather than that of a roller coaster, but they provide a similar pairing of dark ride scenes with a high-speed thrill ride.
Saw – The Ride at Thorpe Park features an enclosed dark section with strobe lighting and special effects, before the car enters the outdoor section of the ride.
Particularly in Disney-built or -influenced parks, a number of attractions use traditional dark-ride features, such as animatronics and theatrical lighting, but are not "dark rides" in that patrons do not board vehicles. Examples include the walk-through dioramas in Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle, and theater-based Disney attractions like Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, The Hall of Presidents, The American Adventure and Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room. Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress (and its now-closed Disneyland replacement America Sings) had four auditoriums that rotated audiences around a stationary core with show scenes.
The Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Railroad both include brief dark-ride scenes, but for the most part transport guests outdoors. Expedition Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Space Mountain at several Disney parks, and Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars at Hong Kong Disneyland likewise include some dark-ride elements, but function primarily as indoor/outdoor roller coasters.
An amusement park is a park that features various attractions, such as rides and games, as well as other events for entertainment purposes. A theme park is a type of amusement park that bases its structures and attractions around a central theme, often featuring multiple areas with different themes. Unlike temporary and mobile funfairs and carnivals, amusement parks are stationary and built for long-lasting operation. They are more elaborate than city parks and playgrounds, usually providing attractions that cater to a variety of age groups. While amusement parks often contain themed areas, theme parks place a heavier focus with more intricately-designed themes that revolve around a particular subject or group of subjects.
The Haunted Mansion is a dark ride attraction located at Disneyland, Magic Kingdom, and Tokyo Disneyland. The haunted house attraction features a ride-through tour in Omnimover vehicles called "Doom Buggies", and a walk-through show is displayed to riders waiting in the queue line. Each location differs slightly in design, utilizing a range of technology from centuries-old theatrical effects to modern special effects, including spectral Audio-Animatronics. The Haunted Mansion inspired two similarly-themed attractions, Phantom Manor and Mystic Manor, which exist at Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland, respectively.
Space Mountain is a space-themed indoor roller coaster attraction located at five of the six Disneyland-style Disney Parks. Although all five versions of the attraction are different in nature, all have a similar conical exterior façade that is a landmark for the respective park. The original Space Mountain coaster opened in 1975 at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. There are two tracks within this attraction, Alpha and Omega, which passengers can choose from. Other versions of the attraction were built at all other Disney parks except for Shanghai Disneyland Park.
Incredicoaster is a steel roller coaster at Disney California Adventure in Anaheim, California. Manufactured by Intamin, it opened to the public as California Screamin' in 2001. It is the only roller coaster at the Disneyland Resort with an inversion, and is the fastest at the park with a top speed of 55 miles per hour (89 km/h). At 6,072 feet long, is the 6th longest sit down roller coaster in the world as of 2022. At 122 feet high, it is the tallest roller coaster of any Disney resort.
Arrow Dynamics was an American manufacturing and engineering company that specialized in designing and building amusement park rides, especially roller coasters. Based in Clearfield, Utah, the company was the successor to Arrow Development (1946–1981) and Arrow Huss (1981–1986), which were responsible for several influential advancements in the amusement and theme park industries. Among the most significant was tubular steel track, which provided a smoother ride than the railroad style rails commonly used prior to the 1960s on wooden roller coasters. The Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland, built in 1959, was Arrow's first roller coaster project.
Walt Disney Studios Park is the second of two theme parks built at Disneyland Paris in Marne-la-Vallée, France, which opened on 16 March 2002. It is owned and operated by The Walt Disney Company through its Parks, Experiences and Products division. Upon opening, it was dedicated to show business, movie themes, production, and behind-the-scenes, but in the 2010s, in a similar manner to its sister park, Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World in Florida, it began to distance itself from the original studio backlot theming and entered a new direction of attraction development inspired by iconic Disney stories. In 2019, the park hosted approximately 5.2 million guests. The park is represented by the Earffel Tower, a water tower similar to one that was installed at the Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank, California.
Matterhorn Bobsleds are a pair of intertwined steel roller coasters at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. It is modeled after the Matterhorn, a mountain in the Alps on the border between Switzerland and Italy. It is the first known tubular steel track roller coaster. Located on the border between Tomorrowland and Fantasyland, it employs forced perspective to seem larger.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a mine train roller coaster located at Disneyland, Magic Kingdom, Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Park in Paris. In Tokyo and Paris, the attraction is named Big Thunder Mountain. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is also the name of the fictional rail line the roller coaster depicts.
Scooby-Doo Spooky Coaster is an enclosed steel wild mouse roller coaster located at Warner Bros. Movie World on the Gold Coast, Australia. It is based on the 2002 live action film Scooby-Doo, which was filmed at the studio adjacent to the park at the same time the ride was being constructed. In 2018 the ride underwent a significant theming overhaul and reopened in December under the name Scooby-Doo Spooky Coaster: Next Generation with a new ride storyline, new theming and new special effects.
WestCOT was a planned second theme park for the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. It was essentially a replica of EPCOT Center at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, and was dedicated to the celebration of human achievement, namely technological innovation and international culture. The park was represented by SpaceStation Earth, a larger version of the geodesic sphere Spaceship Earth featured at EPCOT Center.
An indoor roller coaster or enclosed roller coaster is a roller coaster built inside a structure. The structure may be unrelated to the ride, or it may be intended solely or primarily for the ride. Many indoor coasters are custom made and placed in amusement parks or shopping malls. LaMarcus Adna Thompson, who pioneered the construction of the first simple roller coasters, initially built "scenic railway" rides including "indoor tableaux, panoramas, and biblical scenes illumined by car-tripped switches and flood lamps". A "completely enclosed roller coaster" called the Twister was built as early as 1925. Walt Disney World's Space Mountain was one of the first rides considered to be an indoor roller coaster, and was "the first indoor roller coaster where riders were in total darkness for the length of the ride so they couldn't tell where the drops or turns would occur".
Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril is a roller coaster attraction at Disneyland Park (Paris). It opened on 30 July 1993. Based on the Indiana Jones films, guests are taken on an adventure riding in a mining train through a lost temple. The attraction was sponsored by Esso.
An old mill is a type of amusement park ride with unaccompanied boats floated on guideways through dark tunnels. These themed dark rides originated in the late 19th century and are known by a variety of names, including tunnel of love and river cave. While generally considered a gentle ride, a variation that ends with a climactic splashdown, similar to the modern-day log flume, is known as a mill chute.
Crush's Coaster is a spinning roller coaster at Walt Disney Studios Park in Disneyland Paris. The attraction officially opened on June 9, 2007 as part of an expansion project in Toon Studio, an area within Walt Disney Studios Park formerly known as Animation Courtyard. It is themed to the Disney-Pixar film Finding Nemo and named after Crush, a green sea turtle voiced by Andrew Stanton from the film. Most of the roller coaster is enclosed and features dark ride special effects.
Space Mountain is an outer space-themed, indoor roller coaster in Tomorrowland located at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom theme park in Bay Lake, Florida, near Orlando. The dark ride, which opened on January 15, 1975, is the original version of the iconic attraction that has since been replicated at other Disney theme park locations worldwide, with the exception of Shanghai Disneyland Resort. Space Mountain is also the oldest operating roller coaster in the state of Florida. RCA helped fund construction and sponsored the ride from 1975 to 1993. FedEx assumed sponsorship from 1994 to 2004.
Space Mountain is an indoor, space-themed roller coaster in Tomorrowland at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Opened on May 27, 1977, it was the second roller coaster built at Disneyland, and was the second of the five versions of Space Mountain built by The Walt Disney Company. Its exterior façade is one of Disneyland's four "mountain" structures that serve as park landmarks.
Blackpool Pleasure Beach is an amusement park situated on Blackpool's South Shore, in the county of Lancashire, North West England. It operates as a secure facility, and has introduced epayments via smartphones for admission charges, replacing wristbands and Pleasure Beach Passes, and removing the need to attend the Ticket Centre.
Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars is a steel roller coaster in the Grizzly Gulch section of Hong Kong Disneyland. The attraction features Audio-Animatronic bears as well as a backwards section. Big Grizzly Mountain is the second mountain and third roller coaster attraction at Hong Kong Disneyland.
Wonder Mountain's Guardian is a 4D, interactive dark ride roller coaster at the Canada's Wonderland amusement park located in Vaughan, Ontario, Canada. Park management first proposed a dark ride located inside Wonder Mountain around 2004. Technology and budget limitations at the time delayed the project's planning and design stages until 2011. The steel track was manufactured by Art Engineering; it is approximately 304.8 metres (1,000 ft) long and has a maximum height of about 18.3 metres (60 ft). The ride also features one of the largest drop tracks in the world reaching a height of 9.1 metres (30 ft).
Marvel Super Hero Island is an area at Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure park in Orlando, Florida that is themed after popular Marvel Comics superheroes. The area opened in 1999, ten years prior to Universal competitor The Walt Disney Company acquiring Marvel Entertainment in 2009. The island is home to four attractions, including The Incredible Hulk and The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. Marvel Super Hero Island’s architecture and theming is modeled after a Marvel comic book, with a comic book color scheme, amplified angles, and cutouts of many of the most popular Marvel characters.