Amusement Parks

The Evolution of Amusement Parks

Amusement parks all over the world have entertained millions of people for many years, and it seems with each passing year, parks grow bigger and better. While many people often tend to associate amusement parks with American culture, the idea behind them actually originated in Europe long before America was founded. In fact, the oldest operating amusement park opened in the late 1500’s in Denmark, while the oldest operating park in America did not open until 1846. Perhaps the huge success of amusement parks can best be attributed to the fact that they cater to families, providing multiple sources of fun for adults and children alike.

Traveling Amusement Parks

Though we tend to think of amusement parks as sprawling acres of land covered in large, permanent structures like roller coasters and amphitheaters, the basic idea is really much simpler than that. Carnivals are a form of traveling amusement parks, and in fact it was those small productions that led to ideas of constructing more permanent parks.

Rides and Roller Coasters

Some of the biggest attractions and defining characteristics of amusement parks are their “rides”—roller coasters, ferris wheels, trains, and more. People often say the rides are the number one reason why they choose to go to a particular amusement park. In an effort to accommodate this, roller coasters continue to get taller, faster, and more thrilling. Along with increasing in size and speed, roller coasters are growing in numbers, and there are over 1, 300 in the United States today. Water rides are also becoming more and more popular, and many amusement parks have begun to add not only water rides, but complete water parks to their list of attractions.

What Else You’ll Find

In addition to rides, many parks offer entertainment shows. Most have amphitheaters or stages where a variety of performers show off for the crowds. Musical concerts, variety shows, and magic stunts are the most commonly attended, but don’t forget about the sidewalk artists like mimes and clowns, and cartoonists. Gaming sectors are also common among the amusement park experience, as often parks offer large varieties arcade games like ski-ball, air hockey, and bumper cars. Some even include small scale basketball courts.

And what would the park be without food? Most amusement parks offer street vendors selling common “fair foods” like popcorn, hot dogs, and snow cones, but it has become more and more common for one to find national chain restaurants within the parks as well. Fast food restaurants and fine dining establishments alike are joining forces to help provide park goers with diverse and delicious meal choices.

Theme Parks

It seems that as time goes on, society’s become more and more specialized, and amusement parks are no exception to this trend. While most amusement parks offer similar attractions, it has become popular to maintain a consistent theme throughout the whole park. Every ride, show and restaurant complements one another in some way, shape, or form. One of the most well known and world-recognized theme parks is Walt Disney World, which is the largest amusement park in the world—it’s over 47 miles in size!

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