This category covers theme parks, kiddie parks, amusement piers, centers, and parks, and other establishments (excluding fairs, circuses, and carnivals) that operate in part or whole such attractions as mechanical rides, amusement devices, refreshment stands, and picnic grounds. Amusement concessionaires operating within these establishments are generally covered in SIC 7999: Amusement and Recreation Services, Not Elsewhere Classified.
Amusement and Theme Parks
According to The Great American Amusement Parks, the earliest amusement parks were the European pleasure gardens of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. But only with the technological advances of the Industrial Revolution did the mechanical rides of the modern amusement park come into being. In this area of development, American parks led the way.
Jones's Wood in New York City, established in the early nineteenth century, was probably the first major U.S. amusement park. But its humble attractions — including billiards, bowling, and donkey rides — were soon eclipsed by Coney Island. This legendary resort first began to expand dramatically in the 1870s when a railway line to it was constructed. In 1920, the extension of the New York subway system to Coney Island put city residents a nickel away from the resort's attractions. Indeed, before the advent of the automobile, ease of travel played a crucial role — "trolley parks" acquired their name from the system of transport that brought customers to them.
Mechanized rides of the kind taken for granted in modern amusement parks reached Coney Island in 1884, with the advent of La Marcus Adna Thompson's Switchback Railway, the first roller coaster. From their inception, roller coasters proved the most popular attractions, as well as the largest and most expensive to build and maintain.
The first ferris wheel — named for George Ferris, not because he invented the concept, but because his engineering talents produced the first such ride made of steel rather than wood and built on a huge scale — made its appearance at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair Columbian Exposition. Coney Island, and the many other amusement parks that sprang into being in response to its success, faced hazards from fire and water. Rainy weather discouraged attendance because most of the attractions were outdoors. Initial reliance for construction on such cheap but highly...