According to amusement park pioneer George C. Tilyou, "We Americans want either to be thrilled or amused, and we are ready to pay well for either sensation."
Beginning in the late 19th century, and fueled by the public's interest in world expositions, entrepreneurs developed amusement parks as tourist meccas containing fascinating rides and attractions, such as Ferris wheels, arcades and roller coasters.
Left: The "Loop the Loop" ride at Luna Park, one of the first amusement parks to open at Coney Island, N.Y., in 1903.
Coney Island's Luna Park opened in 1903. The Chutes (pictured here in 1904) was a water ride popular in parks throughout the U.S., and was a precursor to the log flume rides of today.
The park was almost entirely destroyed by fire during World War II, after which apartment complexes were constructed on the property. A new Luna Park was opened in 2010 on the site of the old Astroland, just south of the original Luna Park.
The Saltair Pavilion in Utah, c. 1901.
Built in 1893 on the shores of the Great Salt Lake, by a group affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Saltair was a popular destination for Mormon families even after the church sold its interest in the resort.
Saltair was destroyed by fire in 1925, but a new pavilion arose from the ashes and continued until another fire destroyed it in 1970. A third site, built in 1981, is now all but abandoned.
Movie buffs may recognize some Saltair locations from the 1962 horror film, "Carnival of Souls."
The Mountain Scenic Railway ride at Woodside Park amusement park, in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park, built c. 1897. Many attractions (including the scenic railway) were destroyed by fire in 1917. The park was rebuilt, and operated until 1955.
The Steeplechase Pier amusement park and boardwalk in Atlantic City, N.J. Built in 1899 and originally called Auditorium Pier, it was purchased by George C. Tilyou, who remodeled and renamed it after his Coney Island amusement park.
The smiling face designed by Tilyou (seen at left) first appeared at Coney Island and popped up elsewhere, as he expanded his operations in several states. Variations also emerged, such as the smiling "Tillie" murals on Palace Amusements at Asbury Park, N.J., now demolished.
Luna Park, Cleveland
Chateau-Alfonse and the Old Shoe (a giant slide) at Luna Park in Cleveland, c. 1905. The "old lady" stationed at the top of the shoe - not knowing what else to do with so many children - would gently push them down the slide.
Created by Frederick Ingersoll, who ran a chain of amusement parks (many under the Luna Park name), the park was open from 1905 until 1929. It featured roller coasters, a Ferris wheel, a shoot-the-chutes ride, fun house, a dance hall, a baseball park and a football stadium.
A woman enjoys a slide at Coney Island, N.Y., in this undated photo.
A 1906 postcard depicts a night scene at the Coney Island amusement park Dreamland.
"The Tickler" ride, at Chester Park in Cincinnati, Ohio, was first installed in 1908. The cars in the ride rolled and bounced, drawn downwards by gravity, not unlike the ball in a pachinko machine.
Unlike many rides which are updated to create even bigger thrills for passengers, this one advertised that it's been "remodeled - not as rough as last season."
A panoramic view of the plaza and esplanade at one of the oldest amusement parks in the United States: Lakeside Park in Denver, in 1908.
The figure of "King Dodo" presides over the White City amusement park in Shrewsbury, Mass., in this 1908 photo. Built on the shore of Lake Quinsigamond, the park operated from 1905 to 1960.
Human Roulette Wheel
Customers at Coney Island's Steeplechase Park in 1908 sit perched atop the "Human Roulette Wheel," shortly before the ride starts spinning them wildly off in all directions.
The Velvet Coaster roller coaster at Riverview Amusement Park in Chicago, 1910.
Advertised for its gentle thrills, it would be overshadowed by the park's other, more daring rides, and rolled its last passengers in 1919. Riverview continued operating until 1967.
Columbia Gardens Amusement Park in Butte, Mont., c. 1910.
In 1899 Senator William A. Clark purchased parkland, which he later expanded to create an amusement park containing a roller coaster, biplane ride, dance pavilion and other attractions. Columbia Gardens was shut down in the 1970s by the copper company which had taken ownership, and which pursued open pit mining in the area instead.
Ashes Of Dreamland
Founded in 1903, Dreamland was considered the grandest of Coney Island's original amusement parks. It burned down just before Memorial Day Weekend 1911. Ironically, the fire was started by workmen preparing a ride called Hell Gate.
A diving horse at Hanlan's Point Amusement Park in Toronto, c. 1907. According to advertisements of the time, the horse jumped into the water on its own volition.
The park, which opened in the 1880s, also featured The Dips rollercoaster, an electric car ride, roller rink, swing rides, and a scenic railway. It also advertised a freak show - "the great and only museum of living curiosities."
"The Whip" ride at Hanlan's Point Amusement Park ("Canada's Coney Island"), in Toronto, June 1930.
Spectators cheer on the racing whippets at Sunnyside Amusement Park in Toronto, Nov. 12, 1923.
Left: The plane ride and Pennyland arcade at Glen Echo Amusement Park in Glen Echo, Md., c. 1920s. Originally the site of a Chautauqua Movement recreational facility, Glen Echo Amusement Park opened in 1898 and operated until 1968.
Today the site is overseen by the National Park Service, and while most of the amusement park attractions (such as the roller coaster, fun house and Crystal Pool) are gone, the carousel - built in 1921 and recently restored - still delights visitors.
Buckeye Lake Amusement Park
Visitors gather at the carousel at Buckeye Lake Amusement Park, near Columbus, Ohio, 1938.
A recreational destination in the early 20th century (and the site of Ku Klux Klan rallies in the 1920s), Buckeye Lake saw the creation of an amusement park in 1931, which operated until 1970.
A palm reader hawks her specialty at Buckeye Lake Amusement Park, near Columbus, Ohio, 1938.
Photographer Ben Shahn, hired by the U.S. Farm Security Administration to document the area, captured the summer scene at Buckeye Lake, and did not leave with a flattering attitude.
"Its patrons are clerks, Columbus politicians, laborers, businessmen, droves of high school and college students," he wrote. "The rich occupy one side of the lake, the rest rent cottages on the other side. It has an evil reputation and an evil smell. It has furnished Columbus and the neighboring small towns and cities with dancing, cottaging, swimming, etc. for several generations. This is the most unsavory place the photographer ran across in Ohio."
Bumper cars at Lake Compounce amusement park in Bristol/Southington, Connecticut, 1942.
Opened in 1846, Lake Compounce is the oldest continuously-operated amusement park in the U.S.
Laff In The Dark
The "Laff in the Dark" fun house ride at Lake Compounce amusement park in Bristol/Southington, Connecticut, 1942.
A 1973 photo of the abandoned parachute jump ride at the Steeplechase Amusement Park on Coney Island, N.Y.
The parachute jump was moved to Steeplechase following the 1939 New York World's Fair. But while the park itself would close and be demolished in the mid-1960s, the parachute jump was deemed too costly to tear down. And so it remains to this day - a declared landmark - near the newly-built MCU Park, where the Brooklyn Cyclones minor league baseball team plays.
By CBSNews.com senior producer David Morgan