Four Inspiring Attractions Set the Standard for Dark Rides

April 6, 2022, 4:04 PM · [Editor's note: Each Wednesday, Theme Park Insider invites a leading themed entertainment professional to take over the page and share one of their favorite attractions around the world. I have asked them to go "off the beaten path," if you will, and highlight an attraction outside the familiar favorites at places such as Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando. I also have asked participants to stay clear of their own company's work. Today, Lauren Weaver, VP Marketing and Business Development for Sally Dark Rides, takes us on a trip to northern Europe, with a detour to Pennsylvania.]

As a self-described dark ride nerd, there are so many rides and attractions that have inspired me that it’s hard to choose a favorite. So, I broke the rules and chose three.. ok, four!

The one with the largest impact has to be Droomvlucht, or Dreamflight, at Efteling. It’s. Just. So. Magical. From the moment you take off, you’re in for a ride packed with wonder and fantasy. The suspended ride vehicles are unique, and a perfect conveyance for the storyline – you really feel like you’re flying through the forest and even up in space. The ride is nothing short of scenic majesty. From floor to ceiling there is lavish, beautiful scenic detail, countless animatronic characters, and so much to look at you have to ride again, and even then you won’t see it all! You feel enwrapped in a fantasy unlike any other (especially unlike anything in the States). A must-experience, if given the chance.

One of the best classic haunted house dark rides I’ve ever ridden is off the beaten path in Elysburg, Pennsylvania. The Knoebels Haunted Mansion is not the most technologically sophisticated or elaborately themed, but it’s got the some of the best-timed gags and classic effects and of any attraction out there – and for that reason alone, it’s worth the ride.

Sweden is home to two of my favorite walk-through attractions. The Gasten Ghost Hotel at Liseberg is so frightening they make you walk in a conga-line, holding onto the person in front of you so that you won’t run away in fear. The scenic detail, unusual special effects, and occasional jump-scare from live actors, will sure make this a haunted hotel to remember.

On the flip side, if you’re not into scare but out for sheer fun, the fun house at Grona Lund is a step above the rest. Lustiga Huset is colorful, whimsical, and best of all – kept up! All the gags work!

Lustiga Huset

While I often feel disappointed walking though the fun houses of today, typically tattered and broken, this one has it all, and it’s all working. The steps shake, the tunnel spins, the mirrors are clean. There are elevation changes, slides, and spinning floors. Just try to walk up the entrance stairs and you’ll know you’re in for a wildly different fun house experience.


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If you work in the themed entertainment design industry and would like to share a favorite attraction with Theme Park Insider readers, please email editor Robert Niles at

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Replies (2)

April 7, 2022 at 8:26 AM

Haunted Mansion is absolutely one of the best dark rides in the US. It has that low-tech/low budget/b-movie vibe while still actually working with effective special effects. This is not one of those chintzy carnival-style funhouses where you leave wondering why you just wasted $8 worth of tickets, and while Knoebell's still allows guests to pay per ride, those with an all-ride wrist band can go back again and again and still be shocked and startled by the perfect pacing and timing of the effects.

I'd also add that Noah's Ark at Kennywood is another funhouse style attraction that is still in fine working order. The park has been forced to remove some of the effects that create unwanted liability, but it's still a classic and a dying breed of theme park attraction that isn't replicated anymore even at carnivals and seaside parks.

April 7, 2022 at 10:09 PM

I didnt click om the dreamflight video because I plan on checking this out one day in person but man does it sound like such a lovely, detailed ride. Efteling and Europa Park are at the top of my to-visit list once I make it out to Europe (along with Disney Paris)

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