What's makes a good dark ride?

What is a good dark ride, what park is it at, and what do you like best about it?

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I like Outer Limits at PKI, even though its pretty hard on my head Its a fun dark ride to me. But who could forget our first rides on Space Mountain?
I think a good dark ride has to have interaction, a good queue, and during the ride it has to mislead you. So I think Spiderman @ IoA qualifies. :)

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*** This post was edited by SFMWManiac87 on 11/6/2001. ***

Well, if it's not outside, that's a good start:) Seriously though, my favorite would be The Haunted House at Knoebels because every room packs new surprises and scares.

SFA 2002-What are they building?

I agree with Intamin Fan.  Knoebels' Haunted House is most likely the "perfect" dark ride.  From the minute you enter, it is just a non-stop barrage of stunts and sudden scares.  You're always seeing something new, even after multiple rides.  There really is nothing else like it and it tends to make other old dark rides look tame by comparison.


I agree with ProgRay and Intamin Fan... Knoebels Haunted House I qualify as the deffinition of a "good dark ride".

Again, I have a problem with deffinitions and comparing "apples to oranges".

Rides such as Knoebels Haunted House, Spiderman, and Outer Limits could all be considered "Dark Rides" (because they are inside and ""in the dark") however, I hesitate to compare them. Never having ridden Outer Limits, I believe that is a coaster that is "in the dark" and I classify rides like this (and Kennywood's Exterminator, etc) as "enclosed coasters" more so than a "dark ride". Spider man is an odd one too... its tracked like a "dark ride", but yet it has a heck of alot of elements of a "simulator". I would be quicker to compare this to the traditional "dark ride" more so than the enclosed coasters.

When you come to think of it, Knoebels' Haunted House has more in common with walk throughs like Kennywood's Noah's Ark than it does with Spiderman. When looking at these "dark" attractions, I classify them into two categories... "traditional Dark Rides / Walk Throughs" that relies on the standard "stunts" and "Next Generation (for lack of a better term) Dark Rides" such as Spiderman that rely heavily on computer imagery and "simulation" to provide the entertainment / thrills.

"I wasn't always this cynical, but then I started kindergarden..."

Jeff's avatar
Most younger people really haven't had the chance to ride "real" dark rides, as they've all kind of disappeared. Personally, I would however consider something like Kennywood's Exterminator a dark ride, just more interesting than most because of the ups and downs of the course.

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"As far as I can tell it doesn't matter who you are. If you can believe, there's something worth fighting for..." - Garbage, "Parade"

Living in northeast Ohio I feel relatively fortunate as I have at least a few "old school" dark rides nearby. Waldameer Park has the Whacky Shack, a Bill Tracey ride-thru featuring some bizarre scenes. Almost right next door to the Shack is the Pirate's Cove walk-through. Utilizing many Shack-like stunts, the Cove is a much longer walk through than it appears to be on the outside with many zig-zagging passages and disorienting corridors. The scenes and stunts are all behind plexiglass in the Cove and behind chicken wire in the shack... but most of them at least are still functional.

Conneaut Lake has the Devil's Den, an entirely gravity-powered dark ride past various paintings and scenes (again behind chicken wire). This ride is over before you know it, though, so look hard or you'll miss something!

Erieview Park has the Fright Zone, Ohio's only remaining classic dark ride (to my knowledge). The small cars slowly creep through dark halls and slow every once in a while as a loud noise goes off to reveal a scene (and guess what many of them are behind....). Unfortunately, most of the scenes are lacking any motion, but it is nice to have a dark ride only 30 miles away.

Kennywood of course has Noah's Ark, the Old Mill, the Gold Rusher (which I still find to be rather creepy), and the Exterminator. While Exterminator classifies as a coaster, it does incorporate many dark ride elements and is perhaps one of the coolest themed coasters I have seen. And it even makes sense!

I think I like Knoebels' so much because there is no chicken wire or plexiglass separating you from the stunts. Add in the fact that many of the stunts are just mere inches away from riders and I wonder how Knoebels' is able to maintain this fine ride. I know the additional fee (of $1) scares off some, but I give major props to the people who upkeep the Haunted House. Absolutely amazing.


Dark Rides rule!  My favorite is the Haunted Mansion at Funland (Rehobeth Beach, Delaware), with the one at Knoebels a close second.  The Haunted Mansion at Funland is a suspended dark ride, so there are stunts below you as well as to your sides - it is very well done.  It is worth the trip up north to Rehobeth, from Ocean City, MD, which ALSO has a *great* ride through dark ride on the boardwalk, operated by Trimpers (not to mention a good "Pirate's Cove" walk through in their ride area).

My other favorites are the Mine of Lost Souls at Canobie Lake, Indiana Jones at DL and Spiderman at IOA.

This past summer I also found two very cool walk throughs in the Mammoth Cave area of Kentucky.  One is at Guntown Mountain (can't remember the name of the haunted house itself), and the other is 'The Haunted Maze' about a mile down the road from Guntown Mountain.  It is part of a wax museum complex, and very scary! 


Don't forget about the Haunted Mansion at WDW...the version at DLP is very frightening.
I love dark rides!  Especially Space Mountain.  Basically any ride where it is really dark and you can't see where you're going is a great dark ride.  Some rides that are outside are good at this if they have tunnels, especially at night (Beast, Magnum).  Any dark ride is a good ride, if you ask me.
Just for the sake argument... I will throw another name into the hat...

Journey to Atlantis (Yeah, I know... I brought it up again"... Water Ride, Coaster, Dark Ride, all of the above?

While not especially scary, more creepy than scary , is the dungeon boat ride that is under Dracula's Castle on the Wildwood Boardwalk (opposite the entrance to Morey's Piers' Mariner's Landing).

"I wasn't always this cynical, but then I started kindergarden..."

My favorite dark rides, each different and in no particular order:

Haunted House - Knobels - Traditional and so well done

Journey to Atlantis - Sea World Orlando - One surprise after another and great visuals.

Exterminator - Kennywood - A great mouse and a great theme

Spiderman - IOA - Technology to the extreme and a good story

Haunted Mansion - Magic Kingdom - Such great special effects

For me, a good dark ride is one that manages to scare the crap out of me on my first ride.  A better one will scare me on my second ride!

Knoebel's Haunted Mansion is a great example of a dark ride.  I really don't have to say anything else about it, for those of you who have been through it, you already know how wonderful it is.  For those of you who haven't... well, its just another reason to go to Knoebels.

I have always liked the Haunted Mansion at the Magic Kingdom.  Yes, it relies heavily upon special effects, but I feel it has more in common with a traditional dark ride rather than the new, high-tech breed.  Being great for kids and impressive enough for adults, it is one of those "flawless" amusement attractions.

Well my favorite dark rides are (in random order)
Indiana Jones @ DL: This is just a flat out 'adventurous' ride. Not really scary, yet still thrilling

Haunted Mansion @ DL: Again, not scary, but there is a story that you can get lost in the entire time, not just random acts of violence.

E.T. @ USF: Come on! Who doesnt like E.T.?

Men In Black:Alien Attack @ USF: I love shoot-em-up video games, so this is just great!
--who notes that all the really good dark rides seem to be in 'kiddie' parks

I really didn't think to include the Disney attractions on this list, but since there have been some mentioned, I have to chime in and agree.

Disney's Haunted Mansion is as Rob put it, "flawless". The special effects are amazing. No matter how many times I come into that last graveyard scene where there are ghosts shooting through the air all around you, I am still amazed. The narration by Paul Frees is very well done, the music is timeless, and the scenes are just so well done, you can't help but love it. Add in the high capacity and the Mansion is an absolute winner.

Pirates of the Caribbean is my all-time favorite dark ride, though. The Disneyland version is simply mind-blowing. 14 minutes long, 2 "drops", plenty of stuff to look at, and another catchy theme song make this ride another must-see. The "flame" effects at the end may not be hi-tech, but they sure look real to me. And the animation of the figures is just unreal considering the ride was built nearly 40 years ago.

And Indiana Jones at Disneyland may very well be the most incredible non-coaster ride ever constructed. Flying through the temple ruins in a jeep while the Indiana Jones theme plays in the background is just unmatched. Even my parents loved this ride as we rode it three times on my last visit to DL in 1997. I was looking forward to great things at Animal Kingdom when I heard their Countdown to Extinction (now Dinosaur) ride was supposed to be the same type of experience. I was let down by that ride though. Indiana Jones just blows all other dark attractions out of the water in my book.


Countdown to extinction is terrifying!   I was so scared on that ride I thought I'd piss myself!  Everything looked so real.  It was just really dark.

2Hostyl said:

E.T. @ USF: Come on! Who doesnt like E.T.?

Umm, me?  ;) 
I think a good dark ride can be lots of different things, depending on what type of experience you are looking for.  I've always loved the Peter Pan ride at DL simply because of it's story and it's theming and ride experience.  It's not a scary or thrilling dark ride, but what it does it does well.   Now Spiderman is the ultimate "thrill" dark ride, delivering thrills and surprises, while utilizing a great theme and storyline.  The queue is also very fun to walk through, and you get your picture with the "man" sometimes too!  ;)  It's also inside and very nicely cooled off, which always helps.  As long as the ride immerses you in it's experience, then it's a good dark ride.  I've always hated the rides that just take you through a bunch of rooms with just a mess of unrelated stuff that's thrown together for chills and what have you. 
And for some reason, I was the only one in my group at PPP that thought the Haunted Mansion at Knoebels was lame.  ;)


One of the best dark rides I've ridden is the same as most of the people's in this thread. Knoebels Haunted Mansion. One of the reasons the stunts look so good and not vandalized is that they have people on guard in the house. They stay in dark corners while your car passes. I've seen people get kicked out of the park after either jumping out of the car or punching props.

Living 20 minutes from Knoebels all my life I tend to forget how great of a ride it is. After traveling all around to many parks there are only a few that I think can rival the one at Knoebels.

I liked the Haunted Dungeon at The Santa Cruz Boardwalk it has stunts and scenery thru the entire layout.

I also enjoyed the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland and Phantom Theatre at PKI. I just think the moving hologram ghosts are an awsome effect.

Here's a link to a room by room walkthru of the Haunted Mansion at Knoebels along with info about the stunts.

Hello, My name is Dan and I'm a coasterholic.

Lagoon still has two dark rides. Dracula's Castle and Terroride. Dracula's castle is longer and has better effects, but Terroride has more scares.

Dracula's Castle has very nice themeing outside, made to look like a castle, and is actually done quite well. There is also a animatronic owl outside which tells "funny" jokes. ("Why didn't the skeleton ride the rollercoaster? He just did have the guts!") :)

Inside you travel through a swamp, a mine shaft, and other things. There's a nice effect in which a picture of a pretty woman suddenly turns into a Medusa-like creature and screeches at you. Most of the effects are in the open, with the exception of a Frankenstein, which provides a good scare, which is behind a glass wall.

There's also a nice effect at the end when it appears you're going to travel through a waterfall, but it stops just in time.

Terroride is much shorter than Dracula's Castle, and the themeing is not as well done. Terroride, though, has more scares than Dracula's Castle. Terrorides effects are behind chicken wire or a glass wall, but in most places it's so dark the wire is barely noticeable, same with the glass.

Most of Terrorides scares come from objects suddenly rushing out at you or LOUD sounds. There's also various scenes in which poor mannequins are being tortured. Also, of course, there's that loud honk at the end which always manages to scare everyone.

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