>thesis. The Historical Association founders note that rides like Disney’s Haunted Mansion are

incredible, impressive experiences, but we don’t get into those on the site. Plenty of other sites are devoted to the Haunted Mansion. We focus on the old stuff, the tawdry, noisy, run-down, low-tech seaside amusement park rides.

If there’s a place in America, where tawdry, noisy, run-down, low-tech seaside attractions survive, it’s Coney Island. One much-beloved haunted house on the Coney Island boardwalk, the Spook-A-Rama, that is still operating, but the cornucopia of rides, including the "Magic Carpet," "Dragon’s Cave", and "Devil’s Pit," have vanished into history, along with the great majority of the rides made by the Pretzel Ride Company of Bridgeton, New Jersey, considered the pinacle of the art. (The company’s name led to possibly the scariest pretzel logo ever made by man, on a surviving 1927 "Ride the Pretzel" attraction.) Work like Pirate’s Cove by a later designer, Bill Tracy, is still around, but the shuddering, low-tech funhouse is dying out. Some masterpieces of the form have gone and more are threatened. Fans are trying to rehabilitate some dark rides, but insurance liability and the disappearance of the small theme parks of the Rust Belt and Northeast theme parks where dark rides thrived have made dark house construction a dying art. When New Orleans’ House of Shock opens their dark ride, it will be the first new Pretzel-style haunted house opened in twenty years. But this is a world in which hobbyists build their own cruise missiles, in which thrill-seeking foodies seek out unlicensed underground restaurants. The team working on the House of Shock’s ride is posting schematics of their designs. Amusement parks have spurred innovation, before. Somewhere out there are fans with access to a barn, a few soldering irons, and time on their hands. When dungeon walls drip with glowing blood and skeletons dangle from the ceiling, when homemade carts zip down darkened halls, that is the time when hobbyists are present, practicing their art of terror with ghoulish delight.

"When hinges creak in doorless chambers and strange and frightening sounds echo through the halls, whenever candlelights flicker where the air is deathly still, that is the time when ghosts are present, practicing their terror with ghoulish delight." So begins the soundtrack of the Haunted Mansion, Disney’s take on the "dark ride" genre of amusement park attraction. It’s not surprising that Disney’s version has attracted a number of fan sites (1, 2, 3); it’s a bit more surprising that rides like the Haunted Mansion at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware’s Funland or Elysburg, Pennsylvania’s Knoebel’s would have their online advocates. The dark ride has inspired the International Dark Ride and Fun House Organization, the Dark Ride and Fun House Historical Association, and the Dark Ride and Funhouse Enthusiasts, and at least one thesis. The Historical Association founders note that rides like Disney’s Haunted Mansion are

incredible, impressive experiences, but we don’t get into those on the site. Plenty of other sites are devoted to the Haunted Mansion. We focus on the old stuff, the tawdry, noisy, run-down, low-tech seaside amusement park rides.

If there’s a place in America, where tawdry, noisy, run-down, low-tech seaside attractions survive, it’s Coney Island. One much-beloved haunted house on the Coney Island boardwalk, the Spook-A-Rama, that is still operating, but the cornucopia of rides, including the "Magic Carpet," "Dragon’s Cave", and "Devil’s Pit," have vanished into history, along with the great majority of the rides made by the Pretzel Ride Company of Bridgeton, New Jersey, considered the pinacle of the art. (The company’s name led to possibly the scariest pretzel logo ever made by man, on a surviving 1927 "Ride the Pretzel" attraction.) Work like Pirate’s Cove by a later designer, Bill Tracy, is still around, but the shuddering, low-tech funhouse is dying out. Some masterpieces of the form have gone and more are threatened. Fans are trying to rehabilitate some dark rides, but insurance liability and the disappearance of the small theme parks of the Rust Belt and Northeast theme parks where dark rides thrived have made dark house construction a dying art. When New Orleans’ House of Shock opens their dark ride, it will be the first new Pretzel-style haunted house opened in twenty years. But this is a world in which hobbyists build their own cruise missiles, in which thrill-seeking foodies seek out unlicensed underground restaurants. The team working on the House of Shock’s ride is posting schematics of their designs. Amusement parks have spurred innovation, before. Somewhere out there are fans with access to a barn, a few soldering irons, and time on their hands. When dungeon walls drip with glowing blood and skeletons dangle from the ceiling, when homemade carts zip down darkened halls, that is the time when hobbyists are present, practicing their art of terror with ghoulish delight.