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Pleasure to amusement. The Garden to Park Story. The Pleasure Garden. Began in France (1600s) England’s Vauxhall Gardens (London) became most popular pleasure garden (1661-1850)

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Pleasure to amusement

The Garden to Park Story

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The Pleasure Garden

  • Began in France (1600s)

  • England’s Vauxhall Gardens (London) became most popular pleasure garden (1661-1850)

  • Vienna’s The Prater becomes most popular pleasure garden and is first to add “amusement machines” in 1873 for World’s Fair

  • The “beer garden” is rough American equivalent of pleasure garden (began formally in early 1800s)

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American Advances

  • Coney Island

  • World’s Columbian Exposition

  • Coney Island (again)

  • Trolley Parks

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Coney Island

  • Located near tip of Long Island (Brooklyn), nine miles from Manhattan Island

  • Began as beach resort (1820s)

  • Daily visits hit 50,000 by 1870s when first railroad to Coney is completed

  • Pavilions (theatre or vaudeville), bath houses, beer stalls, food, dancing, sideshows, hotels

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Coney Island

  • Charles Feltman “invents” hot dog at Coney in 1867

  • First major “amusement” in 1877

  • LeMarcus Thompson builds first “switchback railway” in 1884

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World’s Columbian Exposition

  • Opened 1893 in Chicago

  • City planning, architecture and technology all used here (“White City”)

  • Introduction of “midway”

  • Introduction of

    Ferris Wheel

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Coney’s Amusement Parks

  • Steeplechase Park (1897) – George Tilyou

  • Luna Park (1903) – Frederick Thompson and Elmer Dundy

  • Dreamland (1904) – Frederick Thompson and Elmer Dundy

  • Amusement parks are for adults

  • “The Nickel Empire” (1924)

  • Cyclone opens in 1928 for $175,000

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Trolley Parks

  • Built from 1900 to late 1920s,

    with boom from 1910 to 1920

  • Located in Northeastern and Midwestern cities

  • Put at the end of trolley lines to attract riders on weekends

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“Golden Age”

  • 1920-1929

  • Major US cities had from two to six parks

  • Over 1,500 amusement parks nationally, most in Northeast and Midwest

  • No television – amusement parks were America’s favorite form of leisure

  • Open admission – pay per ride

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Other Players

  • Disney, while the obvious leader, is not the only major company involved in theme parks. In fact, being called a “theme park” is so desirable that places that aren’t really theme parks like Universal Studios and Sea World (owned by Busch), call themselves theme parks just for the additional marketing benefits.

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  • Most accidents caused by riders

  • People in a relaxed state of mind when at an amusement/theme park

  • Employees often cause harm to themselves

  • Running is a major concern at large parks

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Organizations & Publications

  • IAAPA: International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions

  • ACE: American Coaster Enthusiasts

  • Amusement Business Magazine

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The (Ride) Design Firms

  • Arrow Dynamics (Arrow Development)


  • Vekoma

  • Bolliger and Mabillard

  • Great Coasters International

  • Custom Coasters International

  • S & S Sports

  • The Others:

    • Giovanola, Zamperla, Morgan, Dinn, Chance, Premier, Zierer

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The Top

  • Most Visited Theme Park: Tokyo Disneyland

  • Highest (Full Circuit) Coaster: Top Thrill Dragster, Cedar Point (320ft high/120mph)*

  • Highest Thrill Ride: Superman: The Escape, Six Flags Magic Mountain (400ft high/100mph)

  • Fastest Launch: Hypersonic XLC, Paramount’s Kings Dominion (0-80 in 1.84 seconds)

  • Highest Wooden Coaster: Son of Beast, Paramount’s Kings Island (215ft high)

  • Park with Most Coasters: Cedar Point (16 coasters)*

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  • Current Accident Report Information:

  • IAAPA Trade Show: