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Amusement Park

a commercially operated park offering various forms of entertainment, such as arcade games, carousels, roller coasters, and performers, as well as food, drink, and souvenirs. Amusement parks differ from circuses, carnivals, and world’s fairs (see exposition) in that parks are permanently located entertainment complexes, open either all year or seasonally every year. Some amusement parks, known as theme parks, are designed to evoke distant or imaginary locales and/or eras, such as the wild west, an African safari, or romantic Europe. Theme parks usually charge a substantial admission fee, whereas traditional amusement parks, such as those at Coney Island , do not charge entrance to the midway. Walt Disney World, opened near Orlando, Fla., in 1971, is the most popular theme park in the world; it draws over 30 million visitors annually. It is modeled as a utopian city of leisure, pitched by personalities from Disney animation and operated by 26,000 employees. The original Magic Kingdom theme park is divided into thematic domains (e.g., Tomorrowland, Frontierland, Fantasyland), which flow into one another. The original Disneyland opened in 1955 in Anaheim, Calif.; other Disney parks have opened near Tokyo (1983) and Paris (1992). Other examples of theme parks include the Universal Studios Tours in Universal City, Calif. and Orlando, Fla., in which visitors are treated to a tour of the movie studio grounds and various demonstrations of stunts and special effects from popular films. In Tennessee, two theme parks founded by country musicians, Dollywood by Dolly Parton and Twitty City by Conway Twitty, offer rides, country music, and a hearty dose of Americana. The Six Flags amusement park chain has facilities in many metropolitan areas. For a guide to amusement parks in the United States, see Ray Carlson and Eleanor Popelka, Directory of Theme and Amusement Parks (1988).