While doing turn-of-the-century amusement park research for my current WIP, I came across some ingenious ways park owners came up with to thrill their customers. Times were tough, but the Ferris wheel, a promise to see the land as only birds had before them, was enough to make even the stodgiest penny-pincher empty his pockets. Me? I like the simpler pleasures just down from the bawdy burlesque shows. When I read about the Haunted Swing, I knew it had to be part of my novel.
Picture this: a tiny room, a wooden swing long enough to fit four comfortably, cables affixed to each end that hang from a bent iron bar that bisects the room and rotates crank-style, walls dark and Gothic, the only light coming from the midway through the plank's uneven cracks. Customers sit, an attendant pushes the swing. The ride begins as all other swings do. After several full movements, the swing's amplitude increases. It feel high. Higher than any of them are comfortable with. They realize the attendant is gone from the room and the light coming in from the cracks takes a full 360 degree rotation around them. The trapdoor in their stomach opens at the full-circle ride. They scream.
You can imagine in the early 1900s what a thrill this would have been. Of course, the passengers never moved any higher than a ordinary park swing. It was a mere trick of the mind. The attendant would step out of the room and crank a lever which rotated the room a full 360 degrees around the bar. Cool, huh? I would dance in a burlesque for a chance at that ride.
When Googling to try to find out more about the Haunted Swing, I came across this little scientific nugget. Yes, the X-files theme music drew me in, but there is some solid science behind this supposed "Haunted Swing" in Argentina. Who knew?
What's your favorite amusement park ride? Don't forget to tell us where it is.