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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. A Trip to the Moon began operation at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition. 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.
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 genre's early days, while more ambitious projects can feature complex animatronics, special effects and ride vehicles.
To improve the effect and give a sense of journey, passages in dark rides frequently change direction. Sudden curves give a sense of surprise and allow new scenes to surprise the rider. The rides may also feature sudden ascents or descents to further the excitement.
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 Valhalla, the world's largest indoor dark ride, known for its many complicated effects.
Notable UK dark rides include: Fifth Dimension, (later rethemed as Terror Tomb, and 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.
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."
The 2006 horror movie Dark Ride focused on an escaped killer haunting an amusement park ride.
List of dark rides 
- 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