Modern-day amusement parks are a full-scale assault on the senses, with rides zooming past at breakneck speed, the scent of fried food in the air, and happy screams punctuating cheerful carnie music. But despite their high-tech roller coasters, they're hardly a new phenomenon. In the 18th and 19th centuries, European "pleasure gardens" teemed with live entertainment, fireworks, dancing, and games. Mechanical rides came to the fore with the debut of the Ferris wheel at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. And Walt Disney really set things into motion in the '50s with his then-futuristic Disneyland, an attraction that proved so lucrative that today you can't toss a cotton candy clump without... More >>>