Info

Welcome to the Dark Ride Database

Theme parks are known for a variety of rides, such as rollercoasters, water rides and carousels, but another popular type of theme park rides are dark rides. These rides consist out of a transportation system that takes rides through a building with a number of scenes. Dark rides are often highly immersive rides and contain a lot of theming. The purpose of this website is to create an overview of all dark rides and collect as much information as possible about these rides. Think of the ride systems, theming, manufacturers and much more. Along with the dark rides, this website also collects information about semi-dark rides. These are transportation systems that are in the open air, but also contains an enclosed building with scenes at one point in the ride. The website also collects a third category of rides that we dubbed ‘show rides’. These are rides like madhouses, simulators, interactive theatres, and flying theatres and 3D films.

 Besides creating the overview of the rides, this website also dedicates to publishing news items and specials about rides and/or manufacturers. We are currently only focusing on existing rides in Europe, as part of Phase I of our website. Future phases will include:

  • Creation of an archive. The archive will contain all dark rides in don’t exist any longer.
  • Expanding the website by adding rides in North America.
  • Expanding the website by adding rides in the rest of the world.

Category and types

Rides in the Dark Ride Database are divided in three categories: dark rides, semi-dark rides and show rides. See below the three categories and the various of types that a ride can get classified as. If you have any questions about the classification of rides, please e-mail us at [email protected] or use the DRDB support forum.

The definition of a dark ride is a ride that contains a transportation system that takes its riders through a building where a variety of scenes are displayed. A dark ride is (almost) completely enclosed. The station may be located outside of the building (for example: It’s A Small World in Disneyland Paris, France), but no ride elements should take place outside. If a bigger part of the ride or specific elements take place outside of the dark ride building, the ride will be categorized as a semi-dark ride. Small exception to this rule are balconies, that are often found on ghost trains. The balcony is usually out in the open, but small and usually contains no elements, that the ride will still categorize as a dark ride. Some non-ghost train dark rides may also feature a small outdoor section and still qualify as a dark ride.

Dark rides are divided in seven types:

1.1 Car Ride
Most dark rides are car rides. Cars follow a specific track or path through the building. These cars can be on the ground, suspended, track based or trackless. A car ride can have a second car attached as a ‘trailer’ and still count as a car ride. When more cars are attached to each other, the ride will qualify as a train ride.
1.2 Train Ride
When the transport system consists out of a combination of more than two cars, the ride classifies as a train ride. It is not necessary for the cars to look like a train, as long as the cars are attached to each other.
1.3 Omnimover
An omnimover is a ride system that was first developed by Walt Disney Imagineering for their ‘Adventure Thru Inner Space’-ride at Disneyland (CA, U.S.A.) that opened in 1967. It consists out of various cars that are all attached to each other and make an infinite loop of cars. These cars won’t stop during normal operations. If they have to stop, the complete ride will stop. An Omnimover is also often called Endless Transit System.
1.4 Boat ride
Also a common dark ride type and probably the oldest one, is the boat ride. They come in various sizes and may contain a splash or not. A boat ride will accommodate the possibility for riders to sit next to each other.
1.5 Rollercoaster
Some rollercoasters are partly or completely enclosed and heavily themed. These rollercoasters also have an entry in the database. Please note that an indoor coaster will not automatically count as a (semi-) dark ride. To count as a dark ride, the ride must pass through at least two scenes.
1.7 Free Fall
In some rare occasions, a system for a free fall ride has been fitted in a setting that counts as a dark ride. A Free Fall is still a transportation system, which is the reason why it is categorized as a (semi-) dark ride and not a show ride.

A Semi-Dark Ride is a transportation system that will enter a dark ride building at some point, but a good portion of the ride and/or one or more elements, are outside. To classify as a semi-dark ride, the ride must pass through at least two scenes inside an enclosure. The types of transportation systems for semi-dark rides are the same as dark rides.

The third category of the Dark Ride Database devotes itself to what we call ‘show rides’. These are rides that are completely enclosed, but do not feature a transportation system. Instead, they focus on a certain type of show (that varies between types) and tell a story. Show rides are often highly immersive and contain a special ride system to simulate a certain feeling or vision. Rides that do not feature a ride system are excluded from this category. 

3.1 3D Film
The most common version of the show ride is the 3D film. A hall with seats that serve as a cinema. You will need to put on 3D glasses to view the film. A 3D theater with movement in the chairs (reaching from freedom movement to vibrations) will qualify for an entry in this category. 3D theater without moving chairs are excluded from the database because of the lack of a ride system.
3.2 Simulator
The most known version of the simulator is the motion simulator, such as Star Tours (Disneyland Paris, France) and Time Riders (Movie Park Germany, Germany). Over the years, more simulators have been developed, such as Immersive Tunnels, but also Virtural Reality based simulators. A simulator always shows multimedia, combined with movement.
There is a more strict rule for simulators that revolve around VR to qualify for the database. A VR simulator only qualifies for an entry if the storytelling reaches beyond the multimedia (such as the use of a pre-show).
3.3 Interactive Theatre
The interactive theatre is a cinema like show ride. Every chair in the theatre has its own weapon and lets all riders simultaneously shoot at the screen. The multimedia can be both 2D or 3D. Movement in the seats is no longer required to qualify.
3.4 Madhouse
The Madhouse was designed as an improved version of the haunted swing. The concept was developed by de Efteling for their Villa Volta, the ride itself was built by Vekoma. Nowadays, Vekoma and Mack Rides are both suppliers of Madhouse rides.
3.5 Flying Theatre
A Flying Theatre is a specific type of motion simulator that deserves its own entry. People are sitting above each other instead of behind. Flying Theatres usually show movies that give its riders the sensation of flying.

An indoor rollercoaster or other ride does not automatically qualify as a (semi-)dark ride. To qualify, the ride must contain at least two scenes. There can be a lot of discussion on the definition of a scene and still can the line between a qualification or not be very small. Sometimes it is also the way the ride feels. However, we have made some characteristics that could define a scene.

  • A scene tries to tell you a story or part of a story.
  • A scene has its own room inside the building. The walls of the room are decorated according to the scene.
  • A scene has moving objects or projections.
  • A scene contains sound effects and/or a soundtrack.

With these characteristics, we try to filter rides that contain attributes along the ride, from those with scenes. Not every scene in a dark ride will contain all the elements listed above, but usually a dark ride will contain all of them at some point. Indoor rollercoasters like Vogel Rok (Efteling, Netherlands) and Hyperspace Mountain (Disneyland Paris, France) pass attributes during the ride, but lack a real scene inside its own room.

Ride pages contain a ‘Features’ section. This section sums up specific elements or characteristics of that ride. Below you can see a list of all possible features. If you have any questions about the features of rides, please e-mail us at [email protected] or use the DRDB support forum.

    • 3D Multimedia – This ride features 3D multimedia that requires you to wear special 3D glasses.
    • Free Floating –When a boat ride is guided through a canal and propelled by the streaming of the water, the boat will receive the Free Floating feature.
    • Ghost Train – The ghost train was, together with the Tunnel of Love, one of the very first dark ride types that existed. A ghost train is car ride that takes you through a number of scenes that try to scare you, often with jump scares. This classic ride is still operating in many parks in a variety of names. All rides that are executed with the classic feel of a ghost train will receive the ‘Ghost Train’ feature.
    • Immersive Tunnel – This is a type of simulator where a vehicle is placed inside a room with projection screens 180° around the vehicle.
    • Interactive – This ride has interactive elements where riders have influence on the ride experience.
    • Live actors – At some point in this ride, you will encounter actors. This may be in a pre-show.
    • Log Flume – The log flume is one of the most popular water rides in amusement parks and often used for a (semi-)dark ride. Riders might get wet.
    • Motion Simulator – Most classic version of the simulator. Riders take place in a cabin that can move into several directions. 
    • On Ride Photo – This ride contains an on ride photo that can usually be bought after the ride.
    • Pre-show – This ride contains one or more pre-shows before you enter the ride or main show.
    • River Rapids – The river rapids ride is wild streaming river with round boats. Riders might get wet.
    • Splash – This boat ride contains a descent into water. You might get wet.
    • Suspended – This car ride is not ground based, but cars are suspended underneath the track. Please note that it is common with rollercoasters to distinguish a difference between suspended (cars can swing under the track) and inverted (cars are fixed to the track). The DRdb does not distinguish a difference. Both are called suspended.
    • Tow-Boat – All boats in this type of boat ride are connected to a cable. This cable guides all boats through the ride.
    • Trackless – This ground based car ride has no visible guide rail for the cars to follow.
    • Tunnel of Love – The Tunnel of Love was, together with the Ghost Train, one of the very first dark ride types that existed. A tunnel of love is a classic and nostalgic boat ride. Only original classic rides from before 1930 will receive the ‘Tunnel of Love’ feature.
    • Virtual Reality – The riders are required to wear virtual reality headgear for the ride experience, or have an option for a VR-experience.

Even though we have set several rules and guidelines, it is still not always a clear line when we determine if a ride should qualify for an entry in the database. Therefore we have made two lists of rides that are often discussed. The first list contains rides that do not qualify for an entry on our website. The list also has a column that explains why. The second list contains rides that do have an entry in the database, but some qualifications of the ride are highly discussable. Both can be found here.

User input

The Dark Ride Database relies on its users for a great part of the information on its website. You can notify our team with any updates of information, pictures or even by adding new rides to the database.

You can notify the editors of the Dark Ride Database by using the correct forms. You can add information to existing rides by clicking on the button ‘Submit Information’ on the page of the particular ride. If you want to add a new ride to the database, you can use the ‘Submit Listing’ button on the top right corner of this website or the main menu on your mobile device. Try to add sources or explain how you got the information to your submission. This makes it easier for the editors to verify correct information.

The editors of the Dark Ride Database will look at the information you provide and will let you know the result of your submission. Before submitting, please read the submission agreement. If you have any questions on submitting information to the database, please e-mail the editors on [email protected].

When the information or pictures that you added to the database get published, they will be part of the database for an indefinite time. You can request the removal of information or pictures by sending an e-mail to [email protected] The editors will judge your request and notify you with the actions to follow. Due to the informative nature of this website, it is not likely that information will be removed. However in the following cases, your request is likely to be accepted:

  • Faulty information. Usually this can be handled by filling in the ‘Adding information’ form, but in some cases direct contact with editors will be needed.
  • Plagiarism. This may apply to the free information boxes (description, history, etc.) on the ride pages.
  • When a picture that you own got uploaded to the database without your permission.
  • When you or a minor child in your custody are clearly visible and the subject of a picture.

Requests for the removal of information or pictures will only be dealt with if they are sent in through e-mail to the editors on [email protected]. Please write a clear e-mail with who you are, what information or pictures you want to have taken off our website and why. Anonymous requests will be ignored.

About us

Dark Ride Database was founded by three theme park fans from The Netherlands: Johan, Erik and Luc. Together with friends we have visited several theme parks all over Europe. One of the highlights of the trips were always the Dark Rides. However, we soon found out that it is hard to find information about dark rides online. We have been speculating about it for quite some time, but eventually we decided to start the Dark Ride Database.

Name: Johan

Location: The Netherlands
Occupation: IT manager and internal auditor
DRdb occupation: Website developer
What is your favorite Theme Park?
I always think: “it is not the Efteling right?” But every time I come back there after an international trip I am amazed by the quality of the park. So it would be easy to just say Efteling. Other than that I am a huge fan of Europa Park and Disneyland Paris.
What is your favorite (Semi-)Dark Ride?
I love Symbolica (did the front page picture give that away?) and Fata Morgana is also very good. I’m also fan of Abenteuer Atlantis in Europa Park and Pirates of the Caribbean in Disneyland Paris
What is your favorite Show Ride?
This category should count itself lucky that flying theaters are part of it. Although I don’t mind catching these rides they don’t really work for me. Flying Theaters are great though. The whole experience of Voletarium is great but This is Holland has a slight advantage due to the seating arrangement. Edit: madhouses are cool too.

 

Name: Erik

Location: The Netherlands
Occupation: Mechanical Engineer
DRdb occupation: Editor
What is your favorite Theme Park?
For years my favorite park was Warner Bros. Movie World Germany and when it transited to Movie Park Germany I tried to keep it that way, but did not succeed. Currently my favorite park is Phantasialand in Germany. However, I still have a soft spot for Movie Park Germany.
What is your favorite (Semi-)Dark Ride?
I always find it hard to choose a favorite ride. I would have to say that I can’t quite decide between Fata Morgana (Efteling) and Phantom Manor (Disneyland Paris).
What is your favorite Show Ride?
Time Riders. Don’t know why.

Name: Luc

Location: The Netherlands
Occupation: Landscape Architect
DRdb occupation: Editor
What is your favorite Theme Park?
Eeerm…. Well, I can’t really choose. As home parks I really love being in the Efteling or Toverland, but apart from that I love the rides in Phantasialand, the atmosphere in Tivoli or Europa-Park, the landscaping in PortAventura and Alton Towers and the theming of Disneyland Paris. If I have to pick a favorite among them, that would probably be Europa-Park.
What is your favorite (Semi-)Dark Ride?
Difficult choice as well…. My favorite rides are Fata Morgana (Efteling), Phantom Manor (Disneyland Paris) and I Corsari (Gardaland); all of them are beautiful long dark rides with a very good atmosphere throughout the entire ride.
What is your favorite Show Ride?
That would be Hex (Alton Towers)! I love madhouses for their combination of theming, storyline and technical illusion. And a madhouse inside an actual historic castle is definitely my favorite!