The United States is known for its amazing theme parks and breathtaking attractions. US specialists designed and built many entertainment systems that now operate to many people's enjoyment all over the world. The USA is the homeland to world-famous Disneyland parks. In 1990, there were about 2,000 theme parks in the United States. Nowadays, this business brings billions of dollars of profit.
The era of modern-day theme parks began at the Columbian Exhibition in Chicago in 1893. The show demonstrated such scientific miracles as electric power and new entertainment systems. The world-known observation wheel, or the Ferris wheel, was unveiled to the general public for the first time at the show too. The wheel was designed by US engineer George Ferris.
The wheel, as well as the whole park of attractions, stunned many people who visited the show. The first-ever observation wheel was an eye-opener indeed. It was 75 meters in diameter, and it weighed 2,000 tons. The wheel was powered by two steam engines, 1,000 h.p. each. Each of the 36 booths on the wheel were the size of a bus: 20 seats and 40 standing rooms. The wheel could house 2,160 people in total.
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It is worthy of note that the wheel is still referred to as the Ferris wheel in the United States, whereas in Russia it is commonly known as the devil's wheel.
The development of the industry of attractions slowed down during World War II. The new era of theme parks opened with the development of television. The television technology was developed by Russian immigrants Vladimir Zworykin and Boris Rozing. However, it was Walt Disney, who managed to use the success of television in the development of amusement parks business.
In 1955, Disney opened an amusement park in Anaheim, California. The park immediately won immense popularity and attracted tens of thousands of visitors. Disney started using his cartoon characters implanting them in different theme sections of the park. He borrowed the idea of theme park of attractions from Loona Parks or funfairs. This is how world-known roller coasters appeared in Disneyland parks.
The first roller coaster attraction was designed in the middle of the 18th century in Russia by engineer Andrey Nartov. He first presented his creation - a mechanical amusement system - to Russian Tsar Peter the Great. His invention became popular only in the 19th century. French engineers borrowed the idea of the roller coaster attraction from Russia and dubbed their invention as Russian Mountains (this name was later adopted in the USA).
The development of amusement parks in Russia took place during the period of the New Economic Policy. The famous Gorky Park of attractions was built in the USSR later, only in 1928. However, amusement systems created by Soviet engineers paled in comparison with what American specialists offered to the visitors of their parks.
US corporations such as Paramount, Universal, Anheuser-Busch, Lego and Hershey's opened their own amusement parks in the United States afterwards. Traditional theme parks, for example Knoebels Amusement Park & Resort in Pennsylvania, opened in 1926, are still very successful. One may say that amusement parks in the United States and other countries experience the never-ending golden age.