The dark ride is a format of immersive media that originated in the amusement parks of the USA in the early 20th century. Whilst their numbers have decreased, classic rides from the 1930s to the 70s, such as the Ghost Train and Haunted House experiences have been referenced is films, games and novels of the digital era. Although the format is well known, it is not well defined. There are no dedicated publications on the topic and its links to other media discourses are sparsely documented. Today, entertainment media is utilising technology extensively to create immersive experiences for audiences, transporting them into themed journeys and environments. This paper establishes the lineage of the dark ride format as an early example of this same immersive media. Field research shows the consistent use of particular technical effects over 90 years of production that are common in contemporary examples of the format. The findings clearly define the dark ride format and align it with immersive media today, making a case for greater examination of its history to inform current practice.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.