Amusement Park Fun Facts

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. I spent most of last week with one of my daughters at Disney World in Orlando. She had plans to run in the Disney marathon and I went along to cheer her on and to do some playing.

Spending time at the park got me to thinking about theme parks in general and I decided to look up some info on the history and trivia related to them. And while this is technically not Western Romance related, I thought I’d share a little of what I found with you.

Roller Coasters – my daughter is a big fan and rode quite a few of them – I chose to watch <g>. But here are some fun facts associated with these thrill rides

  • The earliest record of something approaching a modern day roller coaster can be traced back to 18th century Russia. It is said that Catherine the Great while in residence at the Imperial Summer Palace, devised a pastime where people boarded a vehicle which was then rolled down hillsides. She apparently got the idea from the ice slides that were popular in the region during the 16th century.
  • Another early precursor of the modern roller coaster were mine tracks. A coal mine in Pennsylvania created a gravity railroad for moving its product. On days when the facility was not needed to move coal, locals would asks for rides in the carts. Before long, folks were willing to pay for the chance to ride.
  • The world’s longest roller coaster is the Steel Dragon 2000 found at Nagashima Spa Land just outside of Nagoya Japan. It is 8,133 feet long. The ride lasts 4 minutes and reaches speeds of 95 mph
  • The prize for the world’s fastest roller coaster goes to Formula Rossa in Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. It can reach top speeds of 149 mph Its acceleration rate is even more impressive – it can go from 0 to 149 in just 5 seconds. It’s so fast that riders have to wear the same type of protective glasses that skydivers use.
  • The tallest roller coaster is Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. It stands an impressive 456 feet in height it shoots you 90 degrees straight up and then plummets back down in a 270 degree spiral!
  • Some roller coasters get recycled. This is not done out of an effort to save the environment as to save money. It can cost as 80 percent less to dismantle and reuse an old roller coaster than to build a new one.  There is one roller coaster, The Tsunami has been used by four different amusement parks since 1986.
  • Cedar Point Amusement Park in Ohio bills itself as the Roller Coaster Capital of the World. It is home to a number of roller coasters that are among some of the world’s longest, tallest and fastest coasters.
  • The Smiler, a roller coaster located in the United Kingdom, holds the record for having the most loops – an impressive 14! The next closest count is 10.
  • There are currently approximately 5000 roller coasters in existence worldwide.

Ferris Wheels

  • Early precursors to the modern Ferris Wheel were around as early as the 17th century. During that period in Bulgaria there was a contraption known as the pleasure wheel which had chairs hung from rings and it was powered by strongmen.
  • The modern day Ferris Wheel made it’s debut at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
  • The oldest Ferris Wheel still in use can be found in Austria. It was built in 1897 and was scheduled to be torn down in 1916, but a lack of funds to carry out the demolition saved it and it is still in operation today.
  • The High Roller Ferris Wheel in Las Vegas is the world’s tallest – it stands 550 feet high

Random Facts about the Disney theme parks

  • The Pirates of the Caribbean Ride originally used real skeletons. The original ride’s creators were dissatisfied with the quality of the fake skeletons that were available at the time. So they contacted the UCLA Medical Center who were willing to provide some actual human skeletons.  Eventually the real skeletons were replaced with fakes and the real ones were “returned to their countries of origin and given a proper burial,” according to former Disney producer Jason Surrell.
  • Since fireworks are classified as explosives, Disney is the second biggest purchaser of explosives in the US, second only to the US government. Estimates are that they spend upwards of $45,000 per show.
  • A restaurant at a Disneyland park is credited with the creation of Doritos. The story is that rather than wastefully throwing out unused tortillas, they created the crispy treat.
  • Disney makes two times as much money from their amusement parks than they make from their movies.
  • You may already know that there are a series of tunnels that run under the parks. These are used to help the cast members get from place to place without setting foot in the ‘wrong’ place – so a character from Toy Storyland will never show up in Star Wars land. But did you know that those tunnels in Disneyworld were actually built at ground level? Because it was built over a swamp, it was set on the surface and then excavated dirt from projects like the Lagoon was spread on top.  Most of the attractions are actually on the second or even third story of the park.
  • The world’s most expensive roller coaster can be found at Disney World in Florida. Everest Expedition, because of the attention to detail used in fashioning a replica of Mt. Everest, cost $100 million to construct.

And just for fun – here is a picture of me and my daughter at Hollywood Studios

So what about you? Do you have a favorite amusement park or park ride? Do you have any fun bits of trivia that I missed here? Did any of these tidbits surprise you

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Winnie Griggs is the author of Historical (and occasionally Contemporary) romances that focus on Small Towns, Big Hearts, Amazing Grace. She is also a list maker, a lover of dragonflies and holds an advanced degree in the art of procrastination.
Three of Winnie’s books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and one of those nominations resulted in a win.
Winnie loves to hear from readers. You can connect with her on facebook at or email her at

35 thoughts on “Amusement Park Fun Facts”

  1. Good morning Winnie- my favorite amusement park is Six Flags Over TEXAS, but I’ve not been to it in many many years. You gave us some really great trivia. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I am not a big fan of amusement park rides. When I was a kid, I used to get talked into riding them and sometimes I would get sick afterwards. So, I just avoid them after those bad end results. I always wanted to go to Disney, but we can’t afford vacations. I actually have a nephew who works as a Disney character. He is usually Goofie or Buzz Lightyear and he was in this year’s Christmas parade as a polar bear.

    • Hi Janine. I’m not big on thrill rides either, but there is so much more to do at Disney that I don’t feel left out at all. And how neat that your nephew gets to play one of the park characters, that must be a fun job!

  3. At the Como Zoo in St. Paul, Minnesota, they have an amusement park for children. That, along with the zoo, makes Como a very special place to visit. Very interesting blog Winnie. I don’t care for rides in general, but I love watching others enjoy them.

  4. I am not a big fan of amusement parks. I don’t get into riding different things.I enjoyed it as a kid but not since I have been an adult. I did go to Disneyland many years ago.

  5. We have a pretty good amusement park here in Michigan that we have gone to since I was little and it was full of pet deer! Cedar Point isn’t too far away from us and school and church groups go there. I used to enjoy the adrenaline of roller coasters but that has ended! My head spins now, so I must be too old. My kids have discovered them and love them now. Some great trivia in your post!

  6. My husband and I still talk fondly about our High School Physics day at amusement parks near our homes (me in Indiana and him in Kansas). The parks were closed to everyone but physics students and you had to ride the rides and collect data to answer questions posed by your teachers. It was the only thing that made that class bearable to me!

  7. You were in my neck of the woods! I’m only an hour and a half (about, depending on traffic) from Orlando and Disney!! I have to admit, I don’t go too often to Disney, haven’t been to Animal Kingdom at all, though I’d like to. I’d want a cool day with not as many crowds, and those are hard to come by! Hope your daughter did well at the Marathon, and didn’t have any problems. I heard quite a few were affected by the heat.

  8. I love amusement parks, but I have not been to one in years… love rollercoasters, but am a bit afraid of ferris wheels…

  9. My first roller coaster ride was a small one at a now-defunct Lenape Park. I’ve been on many over the years, mostly at Hershey Park because my husband’s company picnic is held there each year.

  10. Our kids and grandkids love Disney World. I’ve never had any desire to go there. As a teenager I enjoyed going to the two small amusement parks at two different lakes near us but now days the Merry go round and old style Ferris wheel are the only rides for me.

  11. Hi, this is so very, very interesting, and yes , there are a lot of things that you shared that I would not have known otherwise, I really enjoyed reading this post, Thank you for sharing it Winnie. I do like rollercoasters, one time at Disneyland I rode one called Montezumas Revenge, it was a little scary, but about 4 years ago or so I got on a pretty scary rollercoaster at Six Flags in Texas, I was kind of scared to get on it, but I got on it and I sat with my son in law who has been an RN for over 25 years, that made me feel a little better, it was scary though, but it was fun! I love ferris wheels also, I guess the last time I got on was about 5 years ago, it wasn’t a very big ferris wheel, but it was fun. Thank you so much for posting this, I enjoyed and I learned a lot from reading it. So happy for you that you spent quality time with your daughter. Have a Great week. God Bless you.

  12. We overlapped in Orlando. Our daughter and granddaughter arrive Wednesday and we will be at Disney Thursday and Friday. Thankfully it will be after the record breaking temperatures – 80 to 84 through Wednesday. We enjoy Disney, but it has been a few years since we have been. The Harry Potter section at Universal is awesome, but it is so crammed in. It is too bad Disney doesn’t have it. They have more room to spread out and do things right. I did not know about the skeletons. My husband’s family moved to Orlando because of McCoy Air Force Base Many friends and a few relatives have worked there. I will have to ask them if they knew about the skeletons. Our daughter is a rollercoaster nut. She is looking forward to riding those at Disney, especially those in Animal Kingdom. I will gladly sit them out. I like just about all the other rides, but not those. Thanks for the interesting post.

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