An amusement park is an outdoor area with games, rides and shows. They are spread over a large area, often many square kilometers. Young and old visitors can enjoy many types of attractions. They can ride on roller coasters, go high up in the air in a Ferris wheel or ride on carousels. Amusement parks also offer restaurants and bars to eat and drink, as well as green areas with grass to sit down or relax.
Most amusement parks have a fixed location. Some of them are open all year round, others only during the warmer season. Today amusement parks have been replaced by theme parks. These places focus on a certain topic of history or natural life. The first theme park, Disneyland, opened in California in 1955.
Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland
In the Middle Ages minstrels wandered around and sang in open areas. Entertainers gathered in a town field or a market square. After a few days they went to another town. They often performed in tents and offered food and entertainment. In addition, visitors could see circus artists perform or have their portrait painted by street painters.
The first real amusement parks emerged out of fairs and public gardens in Europe in the 16th century. Later on amusement parks in fixed locations developed in larger cities. The Prater in Vienna was the basis for many amusement parks in other locations. The first amusement park in the United States was located on Coney Island, in New York City. For a long time it was the world's biggest attraction, with bars, souvenir shops, rides along a long beach. After its peak in the 1920s , the amusement area’s popularity declined.
After World War II larger-scale amusement parks started developing in Europe and other continents. Up to the end of the twentieth century European parks are small compared to their American counterparts. The first large amusement park outside the USA was Euro Disneyland, which opened in Paris in 1990. In Japan an Asian version of Disneyland opened in 1993.In Denmark, Legoland features miniature buildings and attractions built out of the world-famous Lego plastic bricks.
Rides and Attractions
Rides are the greatest attractions of amusement parks. By the 19th century many entertainment parks had carousels or merry-go-rounds. They began to become popular during medieval tournaments where knights fought against each other. Later on roller coasters were added to the attractions of amusement parks. They featured steep drops from high altitudes. Roller coasters originated from Russian ice slides that were built for the people as early as the 17th century.
Today almost every amusement park has a Ferris wheel. The first original Ferris wheel in the United States was built for the Chicago Exhibition in 1893. It allowed visitors to rise to about 80 meters. Today Ferris wheels are not only located in amusement parks but in other places as well. London Eye, for example, is situated on the Thames River and gives visitors a breathtaking view of London.
Ferris wheel at the Chicago World Fair in 1893
Other attractions of amusement parks include twisters and spin-based machines that give visitors a thrilling experience. More and more amusement parks are designing new machines that give their visitors a new feeling. What would an amusement park be without various water rides, especially in the summer when it’s hot? Haunted houses show visitors a variety of mirrors which make them thinner or fatter and cause optical illusions.
Many amusements parks offer their visitors special trains that take them from one attraction to another. Special safety features are built into all of these attractions so that they cannot cause any damage, although accidents sometimes do happen. With the advent of electricity amusement parks opened at night and allowed people working during the daytime to go there too.
- advent = coming, beginning
- although = while
- altitude = height
- area = place
- attraction = an interesting object to see or enjoy
- basis = starting point
- breathtaking = wonderful
- brick = a small block used as a toy
- carousel = machine with wooden horses on it that turns around and around, which people can ride in for fun
- cause = lead to
- century = a period of a hundred years
- certain = special
- counterpart = the same thing but only in a different place
- decline = to go down
- design = plan, make
- develop = grow
- drop = to go down to a lower place
- electricity = the power that is carried by cables and wires and give you light
- emerge = come from
- entertainer = a person who sings, tells jokes or dances in front of people
- especially = above all
- exhibition = fair , show
- experience = something that happens
- fair = large area with rides and other attractions
- feature = offer, present to the visitor
- Ferris wheel = a large wheel that has cabins which people can ride in
- fixed = not moving
- focus = center
- gather = get together
- haunted = scary, ghostly
- in addition = also
- include = consist of
- knight = a man who was trained to fight riding a horse
- larger-scale = bigger
- location = place
- market square = place in the middle of a town where products were traded
- medieval = in the Middle Ages
- merry-go-round = carousel
- miniature = very small
- minstrel = a singer or musician in the Middle Ages
- optical illusion = a picture or image that tricks your eyes and makes you see something that is not there
- originate = come from; start out from
- peak = when something is at its best
- perform = act in front of people
- popularity = when something is liked by many people
- portrait = drawing or painting of a person
- public = for everybody to visit
- replace = here: to build something else instead
- roller coaster = a track with steep slopes an curves ; people ride in small cars at a very fast speed
- safety feature = something built in that protects you from danger
- situated = located
- slide = you can move down a flat surface
- spin-based = here to go round and round quickly
- spread = stretch, reach from one place to another
- steep =sharp
- tent = an object you can sleep in when you go camping; it is made up of cloth and poles
- thrilling = exciting
- tournament = fighting between soldiers and knights in the Middle Ages
- variety = selection
- various = different kinds of