The Classics: 4 Essential Flat Rides

Editorials Theme Park Geekly

In the past few years there have been numerous developments in the flat ride world, but some flat rides remain classic. In some cases, they have remained unchanged for hundreds of years.

There are few things that are more iconic to an amusement park than a roller coaster. A roller coaster provides that flash and pizazz to a park. But what really makes up the heart of any amusement park is the flat rides. Flat rides are the backbone of any park and make up the character of a park more than any other single area. In the past few years there have been numerous developments in the flat ride world, but some flat rides remain classic. In some cases, they have remained unchanged for hundreds of years. Let’s take a look at some essential classic flat rides and see why they should be a cornerstone of any amusement park.

1. Carousels

Classic Flat Rides - CarouselsThe first classic ride that should enter into this conversation is a carousel. Variations of the carousel have been around since 500 A.D. I don’t think any other ride captures that magic that is an amusement park more than a carousel. While it is certainly not the most exciting ride in the world, it is suitable for all ages. I have a hard time not smiling while thinking of a carousel spinning into the night playing organ music. The carousel is so essential to a park’s fabric that they are often the focal point of any location they are placed into. Have you ever seen a carousel discarded to the side of a midway? Neither have I.

2. Ferris Wheels

Another ride that needs to be talked about is the Ferris wheel. The first Ferris wheel made its appearance at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. Now it is hard to find a park that doesn’t possess some variation of the ride. As with the carousel, it isn’t high on the thrill factor, unless you are scared of heights that is, but it does provide a unique view of the world. There are few locations in the world where you can slowly gaze at the world below you in an open air environment. Amusement parks are fun to look at from above, and a Ferris wheel provides just the opportunity to do that.

3. Bumper Cars

Perhaps the most exciting classic flat ride is the bumper cars. Where else is it acceptable for children to operate heavy machinery while crashing into others? Some might find this ride only fun “pre-license” but I still find satisfaction in slamming into another person’s bumper cars. They are also one of the few amusement park rides that allow the user full control of what happens. What other ride do you get to interact with other guests in any other way? Most rides you sit on and they take you places, bumper cars are different, you sit in the ride, but where Classic Flat Rides - Swinging Pirate Shipsyou go is up to you.

4. Pirate Ships

The last classic flat ride that I am going to mention is the pirate ship. According to Roller Coaster Tycoon this one falls under the thrill ride category, and it is thrilling, but also acceptable for most ages. I always loved watching people ride the pirate ship and see their faces change depending on what side of the swing they are on. Pirate ships are very simple rides, essentially large swings, but there is a beauty in the simplicity.

There are dozens of other flat rides that could have been included on this list. The Tilt-A-Wirl, Musik Express, Scrambler, Whip, Swings, and many others entered my mind, but the four rides talked about seem to be a common theme in the majority of parks in the world. They are essential parts to any amusement park and help give a positive experience to the visitors of the park.

Photo Credits: Image 1 – Elenapaint, Image 2 – Tiffanyday

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