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A dark ride or darkride is an indoor amusement ride where riders in guided vehicles travel through specially lit scenes that typically contain animation, sounds, music, and other special effects. The name can be misleading, since a dark ride does not have to be dark – it is simply enclosed, so it is only illuminated by artificial means. (Disney's It's a Small World is an example of a brightly lit dark ride.) Nevertheless, most use special lighting to achieve theatrical effects. Selective use of darkness is advantageous because it helps hide the mechanisms of the ride and because it can increase the visual drama of the experience.

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. 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 Disneylandmarker. Blackpool Pleasure Beachmarker has a good collection of dark rides. "The gold mine" is a ride that simulates a fast journey through winding tunnels of an artificial gold mine, with steep descents and sudden bends to give a feeling of adventure, the ride merges in parts with the pleasure beaches "river caves", another dark ride.

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 early days of the genre, while more ambitious projects can feature complex audio-animatronics, special effects, and unconventional ride vehicles.To improve the effect and give a sense of journey, tunnels of dark rides curve and bend frequently, sudden tight curves in the tunnels give a sense of surprise. They also allow new scenes to surprise the rider. Tunnels have sudden ascents or descents to further the excitement of the ride. The narrowness of the tunnels gives the rider the belief that they are travelling fast like in an enclosed roller coaster.

In the United Kingdommarker, dark rides with a scary or ghostly theme are called ghost train, although that term is more often applied to the simpler midway or mobile funfair type of dark ride rather than modern hi-tech dark rides. Notable UK dark rides include Laser Raiders in Legolandmarker, Windsor (built by dark ride manufacturer Sally Corporation), Fifth Dimension(modified to become the Terror Tomb now Tomb Blaster)at Chessington World of Adventuresmarker and the Duel (formerly the Haunted House) at Alton Towersmarker—both developed by The Tussauds Group—and the Ghost Train at Blackpool Pleasure Beachmarker. Also at the the Pleasure Beach is the water/ dark ride, Valhalla it is currently the world's largest indoor dark ride.

Shooting dark ride

A shooting dark ride is an interactive type of dark ride where riders aim for targets throughout the ride. Each vehicle is equipped with hand-held or vehicle-mounted light guns. Successfully "shooting" a target usually triggers special animation such as flashing lights or moving the target. The more targets a rider hits, the higher their score at the end of the ride.

Some conventional dark rides, such as Duel: The Haunted House Strikes Back!marker at Alton Towersmarker, have been converted to shooting dark rides. Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin at Disney's Magic Kingdommarker uses facilities that previously housed If You Had Wingsmarker (sponsored by Eastern Airlines in the 1970s and 1980s), Delta Dreamflightmarker and Take Flight before it was converted into its current interactive form, which combines new show elements and vehicles with the former rides's layout and track system.

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