Dark ride

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For other uses, see Dark ride (disambiguation).
Meeting Tigger at the dark ride The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh in the Magic Kingdom
A market scene from Fata Morgana, a ride in 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.

History[edit]

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.

Variations[edit]

Dark rides have a number of variations that are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

Ghost train[edit]

In the United Kingdom, New Zealand 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]. Blackpool Pleasure Beach is also home to Valhalla, the world's largest indoor dark ride,[citation needed] known for its many complicated effects.

Notable UK dark rides include: Fifth Dimension (later re-themed 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; and Valhalla at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

In Australia there is a dark ride named The Ghost Train at Luna Park, Melbourne,[1] and a similarly named ride was destroyed by fire in 1979 at Luna Park Sydney.

Interactive dark ride[edit]

As the name suggests, interactive dark rides feature a component that allows the riders to be involved directly in the story of the attraction. The vast majority of interactive dark rides are shooting dark rides, with a small number featuring different forms of interaction.[2]

A shooting dark ride requires riders to aim and shoot at 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. The use of the light guns vary between rides and range from killing aliens on Men in Black: Alien Attack at Universal Studios Florida to calling turkeys on Gobbler Getaway at Holiday World & Splashin' Safari.[3][4] The ride systems used for conventional dark rides allow for the easy conversion into shooting dark rides. This conversion is evident in 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 based at Canada's Wonderland has the world’s longest interactive screen, at over 500 ft. long.

Aside from shooting dark rides, other interactive dark rides do exist. Etnaland's award-winning[5] Haunted School dark ride has been described by Park World Magazine as "one of the most idiosyncratic dark rides". The ride is themed to a school exam, with riders individually answering multiple choice questions throughout the ride. Riders are graded on their responses, with each receiving a school report at the end of the ride.[2]

Trackless dark ride[edit]

Trackless dark rides feature ride systems where automated guided vehicles (AGVs) are utilised instead of those that run on guide rails. Trackless dark ride vehicles have the benefit of being able to cross over existing paths, reverse, and rotate on the spot. Some trackless dark rides, such as the Big Red Car Ride at Dreamworld, rely upon a buried wire for navigation. Others, such as Mystic Manor at Hong Kong Disneyland, rely on Wi-Fi and RFID-based local positioning systems.[6]

Enclosed roller coaster[edit]

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 helixes. Some of these rides feature backwards motion as well as forwards motion, and many of them have launches in place of lifts, due to the fact that they are built inside structures designed specifically for the ride. A few of them feature inversions.

Some examples include: Blazing Fury at Dollywood; Revenge of the Mummy at many of the Universal Parks & Resorts (featuring a launch from the dark ride section into the coaster section); Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at the Magic Kingdom (which features a ride though the Dwarfs' diamond mine on a tour of their mining operations); Scooby-Doo Spooky Coaster at Warner Bros. Movie World (a wild mouse roller coaster featuring a ghost train section, vertical lift and backwards drop); and Verbolten at Busch Gardens Williamsburg (featuring an indoor "event building" themed to an escape from the haunted Bavarian Black Forest that includes a free-fall track section). 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.

Other attractions incorporating dark ride elements[edit]

Particularly in Disney-built or -influenced parks, a number of attractions use traditional dark ride features, such as animatronics and lighting for dramatic effect, but are not "rides" in that patrons never get into any type of vehicle. Examples include the walk-through dioramas inside Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle or theater-based Disney attractions like Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, The Hall of Presidents, The American Adventure (Epcot) and the Enchanted Tiki Room. Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress (and its now-closed Disneyland replacement America Sings) does not feature vehicles but moves its audience using a rotating carousel-like theater.

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, the 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.

List of dark rides[edit]

Title Opened Location Notes
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage 1971
2001
Magic Kingdom
Tokyo DisneySea
Disney World version closed 1994
Abenteuer Atlantis 2007 Europa-Park
Adventure Thru Inner Space 1967 Disneyland Replaced in 1985 by Star Tours
Alice In Wonderland 1958 Disneyland
Around the World in 80 Days 1981 Alton Towers Replaced in 1994 by Toyland Tours
Bubbleworks 2006 Chessington World of Adventures Water dark ride themed to Imperial Leather soaps, located in the Transylvania area of the theme park at Chessington World of Adventures Resort.
Apiland 2000 Parc du Bocasse
Apirama 1972 Meli Park 8 minute boat dark ride - Closed in 1999, transformed by new owner into Bos van Plop (Plopsaland)
Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin 2013 SeaWorld Orlando A first-of-its-kind motion-based trackless dark ride developed by Oceaneering International.
Bermuda Triangle 1994 Sea World Closed in 2010 to make way for Storm Coaster.
Boo Blasters on Boo Hill 2010 Canada's Wonderland
Carowinds
Kings Island
Kings Dominion
Formerly a Scooby Doo themed ride, rebranded after the parks did not renew the licence.
(Het) Bos van Plop 1999 Plopsaland 8 minute boat dark ride - On track of formerly Apirama
Buzz Lightyear attractions 1998
2004
2005
2005
2006
Magic Kingdom
Tokyo Disneyland
Disneyland
Hong Kong Disneyland
Disneyland Park (Paris)
Calico Mine Ride 1960 Knott's Berry Farm
Carnival Festival 1984 Efteling
Cave Train 1961 Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
Challenge of Mondor 2008 Enchanted Forest (Turner, Oregon)
Challenge of Tutankhamon 2001 Walibi Belgium
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The Ride 2006 Alton Towers
Chocolate Tour at Hershey's Chocolate World 1973 Hersheypark
Ciao Bambini 1982 Europa-Park after 2011 refurbishment Piccolo Mondo
The Curse of DarKastle 2005 Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Dinosaur 1998 Disney's Animal Kingdom
Dracula's Castle 1974 Lagoon Amusement Park Refurbished with new scenes in 2007. Featured in Episode 27 ("Blind Luck") of the 1987-88 television series "Werewolf".
Droomvlucht 1993 Efteling
El Rio del Tiempo 1982 Epcot Changed to Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros in 2007
Escape from Pompeii 1996 Busch Gardens Williamsburg
E.T. Adventure 1990
1991
2001
Universal Studios Florida
Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal Studios Japan
Hollywood version closed 2003, Japan version closed 2009
Fata Morgana 1986 Efteling
The Flying Trunk (Den Flyvende Kuffert) 1993 Tivoli Gardens
Geisterschloss 1982 Europa-Park
Ghost Blasters 2006 Nickelodeon Universe
Ghost Hunters 1998 Segaworld Sydney Closed
Ghostwood Estate 2008 Kennywood
Gobbler Getaway 2005 Holiday World
The Great Movie Ride 1989 Disney's Hollywood Studios
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey 2010
2014
2016
Islands of Adventure
Universal Studios Japan
Universal Studios Hollywood
Hartenhof (Court of Hearts) 2015 Efteling Development status unknown, postponed for an undetermined amount of time
The Haunted Mansion 1969
1971
1983
Disneyland
Magic Kingdom
Tokyo Disneyland
Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull 2001 Tokyo DisneySea
Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye 1995 Disneyland
It's a Small World 1964
1966
1971
1983
1992
2008
1964 New York World's Fair
Disneyland
Magic Kingdom
Tokyo Disneyland
Disneyland Park (Paris)
Hong Kong Disneyland
Justice League: Alien Invasion 3D 2012 Warner Bros. Movie World
Justice League: Battle for Metropolis 2015
2015
Six Flags Over Texas
Six Flags St. Louis
Six Flags Over Texas installation replaced Adventure Theater, Six Flags St. Louis installation replaced Scooby-Doo! Ghostblasters: The Mystery of the Scary Swamp.
Kärlekstunneln (Tunnel of Love) 1917 Gröna Lund Refurbished 1987
Kingdom of the Dinosaurs 1987 Knott's Berry Farm Closed 2004
Knott's Bear-y Tales 1975 Knott's Berry Farm Closed in 1987, replaced by Kingdom of the Dinosaurs
Labyrinth of the Minotaur 1999 Terra Mitica, Spain
The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure 2011
2012
Disney California Adventure
Magic Kingdom
Living with the Land 1982 Epcot
Looney Tunes River Ride 1991
1996
Warner Bros. Movie World
Warner Bros. Movie World Germany
Closed in 2011
Closed in 2004
Maelstrom 1988 Epcot
Magical Powder 2002 Lagunasia
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh 1999
2003
2005
Magic Kingdom
Disneyland
Hong Kong Disneyland
Magic Kingdom installation replaced Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Disneyland installation replaced Country Bear Jamboree
Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! 2006 Disney California Adventure
Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek 2009 Tokyo Disneyland
Men in Black: Alien Attack 2000 Universal Studios Florida
The Mine of Lost Souls 1985 Canobie Lake Park Refurbished in 1992 by the Sally Corporation
Minen (The Mine) 2003 Tivoli Gardens
Monster Mansion 2009 Six Flags Over Georgia "Tales of the Okefenokee" 1967-1980; "Monster Plantation" 1981-2009
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride 1955
1971
Disneyland
Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom installation closed in 1998 and replaced by The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (attraction)
Mystic Manor 2013 Hong Kong Disneyland
Peter Pan's Flight 1955
1971
1983
1992
Disneyland
Magic Kingdom
Tokyo Disneyland
Disneyland Park (Paris)
Phantom Manor 1992 Disneyland Park (Paris)
Phantom Theater 1972 Kings Island
Pinocchio's Daring Journey 1983
1983
1992
Tokyo Disneyland
Disneyland
Disneyland Park (Paris)
Piraten in Batavia 1987 Europa-Park
Pirates of the Caribbean (attraction) 1967
1973
1983
1992
Disneyland
Magic Kingdom
Tokyo Disneyland
Disneyland Park (Paris)
Pooh's Hunny Hunt 2000 Tokyo Disneyland
Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy 2014 Walt Disney Studios Park
Reese's Xtreme Cup Challenge 2000 Hersheypark
River Caves 1905 Blackpool Pleasure Beach
Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin 1994
1996
Disneyland
Tokyo Disneyland
Scooby-Doo's Haunted Mansion 2000
2001
2002
2002
2003
2004
2005
Canada's Wonderland*
Carowinds*
Six Flags Fiesta Texas
Six Flags St. Louis
Kings Island*
Kings Dominion*
Parque Warner Madrid
* indicates ride closed in 2009 to make way for Boo Blasters on Boo Hill.
Shootout at the Flooded Mine 2004 Silver Dollar City
Sinbad's Storybook Voyage 2001 Tokyo DisneySea
Snow White's Scary Adventures 1955
1971
1983
1992
Disneyland
Magic Kingdom
Tokyo Disneyland
Disneyland Park (Paris)
Magic Kingdom installation closed in 2012, replaced by Princess Fairytale Hall
Spaceship Earth 1982 Epcot
Spectacolo 2005 Prater Free-fall Dark ride
Splash Mountain 1989
1992
1992
Disneyland
Magic Kingdom
Tokyo Disneyland
Submarine Voyage 1959 Disneyland Original version closed 1998, reopened as Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage in 2007
Terroride 1967 Lagoon Amusement Park Refurbished with new scenes in 2007
The Rescue of Ulysses 2001 Terra Mítica
The Laberynth of the Minotaur 2000 Terra Mítica
Timber Mountain Log Ride 1969 Knott's Berry Farm
Tomb Blaster 2002 Chessington World of Adventures Shooting dark ride located in the Forbidden Kingdom area of the theme park at Chessington World of Adventures Resort.
Toy Story Midway Mania! 2008
2008
2012
Disney California Adventure Park
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Tokyo DisneySea
Toyland Tours 1994 Alton Towers Closed in 2005 and replaced by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The Ride
Transformers: The Ride 2011
2012
2013
Universal Studios Singapore
Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal Studios Florida
Toyland Tours 1994 Alton Towers Closed in 2005 and replaced by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The Ride
Universum der Energie 1994 Europa-Park
Valhalla 2000 Blackpool Pleasure Beach
Wacky Factory 2010 Lake Winnepesaukah Formerly "Castle"
The Whacky Shack 1982 Joyland Amusement Park
Wild West Adventure 2000 Attractiepark Slagharen
Wonder Mountain's Guardian 2014 Canada's Wonderland

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ghost Train (Luna Park)". Parkz. Retrieved 18 August 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "The School". Park World Magazine: 38. August 2013. 
  3. ^ "Alien Invasion on the Gold Coast". Park World Magazine: 13. October 2012. 
  4. ^ "Gobbler Getaway". Sally Corporation. Retrieved 13 October 2013. 
  5. ^ "European Star Award 2013". Gosetto. 20 September 2013. Retrieved 12 October 2013. 
  6. ^ Niles, Robert (9 August 2013). "The Imagineers behind Hong Kong Disneyland's Mystic Manor talk about their award-winning attraction, at Disney's D23". Theme Park Insider. Retrieved 13 October 2013. 

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