The gates of an amusement park are a portal to a magical realm of thrill rides and fantasy worlds, larger-than-life characters, and the best portable foods on the planet. (We’re looking at you, corn dogs and kettle corn!)
And it’s been that way since the beginning. The first quasi-amusement park entertained revelers in 1133 with merry-go-rounds, extravagant stage shows, gingerbread, sausages, and dancing in the streets. All that merriment made it easy to forget it was meant to honor St. Bartholomew.
Eventually, the rides got bigger (and faster and more hair-raising), the shows more over-the-top, and the spectacle more spectacular. Roller coasters! Carousels! Tilt-a-Whirls! Mickey and Donald and Cinderella! Legos! Quidditch! Funnel cakes! Turkey legs! And fireworks!
In this episode, we take a fast romp through the history of amusement parks, revel in an essay by Russian writer Maxim Gorky, and celebrate the magical world of Walt Disney. Then we recommend five books that took us to amusement parks on the page, including a comedy-thriller set in Helsinki, a nonfiction exploration of delight, a dystopian disaster tale, and historical mysteries set in 1915 Chicago and 1911 Coney Island.
Here are the books about Amusement Parks we recommend on the show:
For a complete roundup of all the books we recommend, plus a full transcript and the other cool stuff we talked about, visit the Episode 56 show notes.
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