Copyright 2004

[ July 10th 2004 ]

Like a sandy beach and a triple-scoop ice cream cone, the amusement park thrill ride makes for a nostalgia-laden, icon of summertime. What is the appeal of these daunting, fearsome-looking contraptions designed specifically for one purpose, to scare the crap out of us? Psychiatrists no doubt have their theories, but perhaps the allure is simply placing oneself in harm's way -- be it real or imagined -- knowing, deep down, that everything is going to turn out all right.

The good news for amusement park aficionados is we are living in a golden age of thrill rides. The roller-coaster cars are faster, the tracks they traverse upon soar ever higher, ever steeper. Meanwhile, the so-called "dark rides" (indoor rides) now embrace the same cutting-edge technology and special effects that movies employ. Just as we will sit in a theatre and believe that a man can fly (or swing from skyscraper to skyscraper on a line of webbing), these sensory rides make us believe that we are being, say, swarmed by carnivorous insects or swallowed whole by a fearsome poltergeist.

The even better news is that competition for your entertainment dollar is fierce, meaning that most amusement parks tend to introduce at least one major attraction every season. In Toronto, Paramount Canada's Wonderland recently unveiled its Lara Croft Tomb Raider, billed as "Canada's only flying roller coaster." Follow the below hyperlink for a run-down of what America has to offer this summer.

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