Vintage Amusement Park Rides


There many types of vintage amusement park rides that can still be found at theme parks and fairs today. One of the oldest rides is the carousel. Although invented by a Frenchman in the 17th century, modern-day merry go rounds didn't appear until the mid-19th century with the exception that the rider had to "pedal" his or her own horse. Today's automated carousels are loved by young and old alike and are staples at most theme parks.

Ferris Wheel

Another long-time amusement park attraction is the Ferris wheel. The first one of its kind was designed and constructed by George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. and was unveiled at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois. Today, Ferris wheels are found at amusement parks, festivals and even outdoor malls.


Swings are great suspension rides and have been around for decades, although their origins are unknown. However, these carnival and theme park rides are based on children's play swings and front porch swings, the latter of which gained popularity in Victorian England.

Roller Coaster

Wooden roller coasters are the epitomy of theme parks from yesteryear. Since today's coasters are built with computer technology and are taller and faster than the coasters of the past, it's easy to recognize a vintage one when you see it. The first commercial roller coaster was called the Flip Flop and was a two-seater car that gained speed only using gravity. It was invented by Lina Beecher in 1888 and used as a Coney Island attraction.


Dodgem, or bumper cars as they are commonly known, were first invented in 1919 by Harold and Max Stoehrer and were most popular in the mid-20th century. They were then replaced Lusse Auto Scooters, which are similar to the types of bumper cars seen at amusement parks today.

Rocket Ride

Vintage rocket rides came under a variety of names including Astro Orbiter or Rocket Jets and are loosely based on the infamous swing rides available at most amusement parks. These were rides into the future, as they were created before man even stepped on the moon.

Kiddie Rides

Kiddie rides at amusement parks are carousel-type attractions for children usually around 5 years old and younger. They are low to the ground and move at a slow pace. Theme parks from yesterday and today have entire sections designated just for kiddie rides, which first came on the scene in about 1950.

To see how amusement park rides have transformed over the years, check out this gallery of roller coaster pictures.

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Vintage Amusement Park Rides