Taking a dark ride

Today’s Zippy brings on scary clowns in Laff in the Dark tunnels:


— and, worse, threatens to unleash Tom Cruise (and his Outsider Art).

The specter of Outsider Cruise. In the flesh:

(#2) Scary as a clown

With the whole pack:

(#3) Left to right: Estevez, Swayze, Macchio, Dillon. Howell, Lowe, Cruise

From Wikipedia:

The Outsiders is a 1983 American coming-of-age drama film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, an adaptation of the novel of the same name by S. E. Hinton. The film was released on March 25, 1983.

… The film is noted for its cast of up-and-coming stars, including C. Thomas Howell…, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio, and Diane Lane.

Fun houses and dark rides. In the simple funhouse, you walk through startling or scary experiences, while in a dark ride you’re carried through them on a vehicle. (Funhouse is in NOAD2 and other one-volume dictionaries; the semi-technical term dark ride is not even in the OED.)

From Wikipedia:

A funhouse or fun house is an amusement facility found on amusement park and funfair midways in which patrons encounter and actively interact with various devices designed to surprise, challenge, and amuse the visitor. Unlike thrill rides, funhouses are participatory attractions, where visitors enter and move around under their own power. Incorporating aspects of a playful obstacle course, funhouses seek to distort conventional perceptions and startle people with unstable and unpredictable physical circumstances within an atmosphere of wacky whimsicality.

Appearing originally in the early 1900s at Coney Island, the funhouse is so called because in its initial form it was just that: a house or larger building containing a number of amusement devices.

And dark rides in Wikipedia:

A dark ride or ghost train is an indoor amusement ride on which passengers aboard guided vehicles travel through specially lit scenes that typically contain animation, sound, music, and special effects.

… The first dark rides appeared in the late 19th century and were called “scenic railways” and “pleasure railways”. A popular type of dark ride, commonly referred to as an old mill or tunnel of love, used small boats to carry riders through water-filled canals. A Trip to the Moon began operation at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition. Leon Cassidy of the Pretzel Amusement Ride Company patented the first single-rail electric dark ride in 1928. Historically notable dark rides include Futurama at the 1939 New York World’s Fair and Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland.

Modern attractions in this genre vary widely in their use of technology. Smaller-scale rides often feature the same sorts of simple animation and sounds that have been used since the genre’s early days, while more ambitious projects can feature complex animatronics, special effects, and ride vehicles.

To improve the effect and give a sense of journey, passages in dark rides frequently change direction. Sudden curves give a sense of surprise and allow new scenes to surprise the rider. The rides may also feature sudden ascents or descents to further the excitement.

A classic dark ride:

(#4) The Dark Ride of Suomen Tivoli (‘Finland’s Tivoli’, a traveling amusement park) in the center of Kerava, Finland, during Circus Festival 2009

There are sites devoted to dark rides and fun houses — notably the Laff in the Dark fun house site managed by Bill Luca and George LaCross, who write:

As you navigate your way around our site, you’ll take many nostalgic trips into a fondly-remembered past, some of which is happily still alive today. Our goal is to keep those memories alive, and to help keep the existing dark rides and funhouses operating so that they can be enjoyed by succeeding generations for many more years to come.

Laff in the Dark was the first website dedicated to dark rides and funhouses. We have developed a huge international network of fans and feature the greatest collection of dark ride and funhouse information ever assembled. The site was founded because we realized that while there are many websites devoted to roller coasters, carousels, and amusement parks in general, information on our favorite spooky rides was very scarce. So, through our own research and the generous sharing of information and photos from our many visitors, Laff In The Dark has become “World Headquarters for Dark Ride Fans”!

Here at Laff in the Dark, we’ve not only documented many rides, builders and artists from the past and present, we’ve also guided a huge number of our visitors to rides that exist today, thereby helping to ensure that those rides continue to operate and stay healthy and scary!

Fun houses and dark rides are prominent themes in popular culture, for instance in this movie:


Dark Ride is a 2006 American horror-thriller film directed by Craig Singer and written by Singer and Robert Dean Klein. … The film revolves around a group of friends who are terrorized by a crazy masked murderer at a dark ride in an amusement park.

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