Amusement parks all started with pleasure gardens. These were located
in Medieval Europe and had live entertainment, fireworks, dancing, games
and some rides. They were popular until the 1700s when political situations
caused a lot of them to close down. Bakken, a pleasure garden north of
Copenhagen, is still standing. It opened in 1583 and with the world's
oldenst operating amusement park.
Taking Hold in the U.S.
In the late 1800s amusement parks started taking hold in the United States.
Most amusement parks were built at the end of a trolley line. They usually
had picinic areas, dance halls, restaurants, games and a few rides. They
were immediately successful!
The Beginning of the Future
In 1893, amusement parks started to become extremely popular. The
World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago introduced the ferris wheel and
the midway. The midway had a wide variety of rides and concessions and
largely influenced amusement park design.
In 1894, Paul Boynton opened
the world's first modern amusement park, Paul Boynton's Water Chutes.
It charged admission and used rides to draw people to it. In 1895, he
also opend a park at Coney Island. Coney
Island was central to the amusment park industry. Once it had three big
amusement parks, plus smaller attractions.
Over the years, trolley parks
expanded, new amusement parks opened and new rides were created. Over
1,500 amusement parks were opened by 1919 in the United States.
Amusement Park Decline
During the Great Depression, amusement park attendance went down greatly.
In, 1935, there were only about 400 amusement parks and World War II didn't
help matters. Many parks closed during the war and others had to stop
adding new rides in order to stay open.
After World War II
After World War II, amusement parks had a sudden popularity boom. New
parks opened as more and more people came. Kiddieland was developed for
younger kids. It did not last long, however.
Disneyland and Theme Parks
In the 1950s people started to lose interest as the parks grew older.
It was during this time that Disneyland was created. It opened in 1955.
Many people doubted it would last long. However, Disneyland was an immediate
success. Instead of having a midway, it had themed places.
Many people tried, unsuccessfully, to copy Disneyland. In 1961, one company
finally succeeded: Six Flags Over Texas. However, as more people grew
interested in theme parks, traditional amusement parks started to shut
down. Some were able to stay open by copying ideas from theme parks.
Theme parks are still enjoying success. New technology is creating types
of rides that were once unattainable. Who knows what the future holds!