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amusement park,a commercially operated park offering various forms of entertainment, such as arcade games, carousels, roller coasters, and performers, as well as food, drink, and souvenirs. Amusement parks differ from circusescircus
[Lat.,=ring, circle], historically, the arena associated with the horse and chariot races and athletic contests known in ancient Rome as the Circensian games. The Roman circus was a round or oval structure with tiers of seats for spectators, enclosing a space in which the
..... Click the link for more information. , carnivalscarnival,
communal celebration, especially the religious celebration in Catholic countries that takes place just before Lent. Since early times carnivals have been accompanied by parades, masquerades, pageants, and other forms of revelry that had their origins in pre-Christian
..... Click the link for more information. , and world's fairs (see expositionexposition
term frequently applied to an organized public fair or display of industrial and artistic productions, designed usually to promote trade and to reflect cultural progress.
..... Click the link for more information. ) in that parks are permanently located entertainment complexes, open either all year or seasonally every year. Some amusement parks, known as theme parks, are designed to evoke distant or imaginary locales and/or eras, such as the Wild West, an African safari, or medieval Europe. Theme parks usually charge a substantial admission fee, whereas traditional amusement parks, such as those at Coney IslandConey Island
, beach resort, amusement center, and neighborhood of S Brooklyn borough of New York City, SE N.Y., on the Atlantic Ocean. The tidal creek that once separated the island from the mainland has been filled in, making the area a peninsula.
..... Click the link for more information. , do not charge entrance to the midway; theme-park admission, however, typically includes the cost of the rides, which are paid for individually in a traditional amusement park.
Walt Disney World, opened near Orlando, Fla., in 1971, is the most popular theme park in the world; it draws over 40 million visitors annually. It is modeled as a utopian city of leisure, pitched by personalities from Disney animation and operated by 26,000 employees. The original Magic Kingdom theme park is divided into thematic domains (e.g., Tomorrowland, Frontierland, Fantasyland), which flow into one another; other areas added later include Epcot Center, Disney-MGM Studios, and Animal Kingdom. The original Disneyland opened in 1955 in Anaheim, Calif.; Disney's California Adventure opened adjacent to it in 2001. Other Disney parks have opened near Tokyo (1983) and Paris (1992). Other examples of theme parks include the Universal Studios Tours in Universal City, Calif., and Orlando, Fla., in which visitors are treated to a tour of the movie studio grounds, see various demonstrations of stunts and special effects, and can go on rides inspired by popular films. In Tennessee, Dollywood, a theme park founded by the country musician Dolly Parton, offers rides, country music, and a hearty dose of Americana. Six Flags, Cedar Fair, Busch Gardens, and other amusement park chains have facilities in several areas.
Beginning in the 1990s a trend at some theme parks was to create rides based on popular action films, such as Batman, Jurassic Park, and Back to the Future. Some resort hotels in Las VegasLas Vegas
, city (1990 pop. 258,295), seat of Clark co., S Nev.; inc. 1911. It is the largest city in Nevada and the center of one of the fastest-growing urban areas in the United States.
..... Click the link for more information. also began adding theme-park rides in the late 1990s. Meanwhile, thrill rides, especially roller coasters built of old-fashioned wood or high-tech tubular steel, were becoming faster and more complex, with water elements, loops, steep upside-down drops, and other scream-inducing features.
See G. Kyriazi, The Great American Amusement Parks (1976), S. Paschen, Shooting in the Chutes (1989), J. Adams and E. Perkins, The American Amusement Park Industry (1991), M. Sorkin, ed., Variations on a Theme Park (1992), K. A. Marling, ed., Designing Disney's Theme Parks (1997), D. Bennett, Roller Coaster (1998), R. Reynolds, Roller Coasters, Flumes and Flying Saucers (1999), and W. Register, The Kid of Coney Island: Fred Thompson and the Rise of American Amusements (2001). For guides to amusement parks, see The National Directory of Theme & Amusement Parks (1997), T. H. Throgmorton, Roller Coasters: United States and Canada (2000), and T. O'Brien, The Amusement Park Guide (4th ed., 2001).