Amusement park rides can be thrilling sources of fun and enjoyment for riders of all ages. For more than a thousand years, rides have existed in various forms for entertainment. In modern amusement parks, many rides are consistently present, allowing older generations to introduce their favorites to younger riders.
The merry-go-round, or carousel, is a revolving platform covered with seats that are usually carved into the form of horses or other animals. Most modern carousel seats have a galloping mechanism that causes an up-and-down motion as the ride spins. Carousels have existed since at least 500 AD, although their modern usage and intricate ornamentation was developed during the 15th century. Merry-go-rounds are a great ride to take children on, although some may experience dizziness or nausea if they are sensitive to spinning rides.
Another common ride at carnivals or amusement parks is the funhouse. These structures contain a series of obstacles and features for the visitor to get through. Common funhouse features include confusing mazes made of mirrors, moving walkways, large spinning barrels the guest must walk through, and winding staircases and slides. Funhouses are best for older children and adults, as they can be tricky to maneuver.
Perhaps the most popular feature of most amusement parks is the roller coaster. These high speed rides carry riders over a variety of drops, fast turns and even upside-down inversions. Roller coasters were first built in the 19th century, and have undergone a series of incredible innovations throughout the years. Guests can now ride roller coasters where they are strapped into a horizontal “flying” position, coasters that go backwards, completely indoor coasters, and coasters that race each other. Many parks offer “kiddy” versions of coasters for young riders, which move around a small, easy track and are a good way to introduce young children to the world of thrill rides.
Related to the roller coaster is the log flume or rapids ride. These amusement park rides propel visitor cars through a watery track, often including fast drops and terrific splashes. Although not everyone gets wet, it is best to be prepared to get completely soaked on water rides. A good method of gauging the amount of soaking you will receive is to spend a few minutes watching people exit the ride. Some amusement parks sell ponchos to protect clothing from the majority of splashes, but many riders feel that getting wet is part of the fun.
One of the best loved of all amusement park rides is the Ferris wheel. This ride features a high-rising wheel with evenly spaced passenger cars. Most Ferris wheels offer a fantastic view of the park and its surroundings. These amusement park rides have existed since the 17th century, and the tallest in the world stands at 541 feet (165 m.)
Many amusement parks feature spinning rides of many varieties. These rides constantly evolve to find new ways to thrill the rider, from fast swerving sizzler or tilt-a-whirl rides, to total inversion rides that repeatedly swing riders upside-down. Experts recommend taking care when bringing children on these rides, as they can be frightening and even dangerous for very small riders. Be sure to abide by all height rules and regulations, and make sure your child really wants to get on the ride.
Whether you are young or old, a thrill-seeker or a ‘fraidy cat, amusement park rides are tailored to meet your entertainment needs. With any ride, read all warnings regarding safety before boarding. If you have neck or back injuries, are pregnant or have heart problems, consult a physician before riding any amusement park rides.