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Theme park is the more nonspecific term
for an anthology of rides and other pursuit attractions assembled for the
purpose of entertaining a fairly large group of people.
A theme park is more complex than a simple city park or playground,
as an amusement park is meant to cater to adults, teenagers, and kids.
An amusement park may be lasting or fleeting, usually episodic,
such as a few days or weeks per year.
The impermanent (often yearly) amusement park with mobile rides
etc. is called a funfair or cavalcade.
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Amusement parks emerged in Europe from Pleasure Gardens which used
to survive for the pastime of the people, while charging a fee.
In the United States, expositions exerted another influence on the
themed amusement park. Amusement parks were the historical precursors to modern
theme parks as well as the more conventional midway arcades and rides at county
and state fairs (in the United States).
Today, amusement parks have largely been substituted by theme
parks, and the two terms are often used interchangeably. The oldest enjoyment
park of the world (opened 1583) is Bakken, at Klampenborg, north of Copenhagen,
Another old park is Prater in Vienna, Austria, which started in 1766.
For a notable instance of a European park, dating from 1843 and
still accessible, see Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen.
Even well grown up is the Oktoberfest which is not merely a beer
fete but also provides a lot of amusement park features, dating back to 1810,
when the first event was held in Munich, Germany.
The theme park is the modern amusement park, either based on a
central theme or, divided into several particularly themed areas, or "spaces"
as is often used.
Large resorts, such as Walt Disney World in Florida (United
States), in veracity house several dissimilar theme parks within their
In the 1920s, Walter Knott and his family used to sell berries from
a roadside stand. In 1934, Knott's wife Cordelia started to serve fried chicken
dinners, and within a couple of years, lines outside the restaurant were often
several hours long. To keep amused the waiting crowds, Walter built a Ghost
Town in 1940, using buildings relocated from real old west towns
such as the Calico, California ghost town and Prescott, Arizona. In 1968, the
Knott family fenced the farm, charged admission for the first time, and Knott's
Berry Farm officially became a hilarity park. Because of its long history,
Knott's Berry Farm at present claims to be "America's First Theme Park."
Walt Disney, however, is usually credited with having propagated
the concept of the themed amusement park. Disneyland was based to some extent
on Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Children's Fairyland in Oakland, California,
and various World's Fairs.
Disney took these influences and melded them with the popular Disney lively
typescript and his unique vision, and "Disneyland" was born. Disneyland
officially started in Anaheim, California in 1955 and gave a new dimension to
the amusement industry forever.