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The Most Memorable Amusement Park Movies

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Adventureland PictureOn Friday, Adventureland arrives in theaters, uniting Bella and Edward for another adventure in vampire love. Oops, wrong movie! Adventureland does star Kristin Stewart, but in place of Robert Pattison, we have the slightly less heartthrob-esque Jesse Eisenberg, and in place of vampire love, there’s… corn dog love.

Yes, even though the title is completely misleading (I was expecting a countryside sci-fi comedy), Adventureland takes place in an amusement park, where cotton candy, corn dogs, elephant ears and garlic fries run rampant, where crickety rides run by unsavory folk cost $10 a pop, and… OK, I don’t know if any of that is in the movie. But I do know that Adventureland is about a new college grad who, struggling to find a “real” job, ends up working at an amusement park with a lot of strange fellers and a helplessly attractive vixen.

Oh, and the movie is from the director of Superbad, so don’t expect a PG-rated family film.

In anticipation of Adventureland – which looks pretty good – I’ve compiled a list of some other movies that have featured amusement parks in one way or another. It’s also 12:30 am Friday night (I know, I know, I should be out picking up chicks), so my recollection of which of the thousands of movies that I’ve seen have featured amusement parks is shaky at best. So, if I missed any – and I’m sure I did – please be sure to leave a comment.

Here are some of the most memorable movies featuring amusement parks, with random notes:

  • National Lampoon’s Vacation – who could forget Walley World, and the adventure Chevy Chase takes his family on? I believe he takes John Candy hostage, too, when they discover that the park has closed down for renovations.
  • The Notebook – All I can say is that I have several special edition DVD sets of this movie sitting on my floor right now, and each one literally weighs a pound. That’s a lot of sappy romance – it’s almost burning a whole in the floor.
  • Grease - John Travolta likes theme parks. He believes that while riding a roller coaster he comes closer to those Scientology aliens.
  • Final Destination 3 – this movie isn’t that memorable, but when the whole movie is based around a roller coaster accident where a bunch of young folk get slaughtered and decapitated, one has to mention it.
  • Fear - I fear my memory is escaping me here.
  • Encino Man- Wow. I don’t think I would ever include a Paulie Shore movie in one of my lists, yet here we are…
  • Lost Boys – speaking of vampires, this is one of those classic amusement park movies.
  • Big - note to self: never, ever take a fortune from a creepy fortune taker robot thingy.
  • Breaking All the Rules – I have to admit: I haven’t seen this one (I was three when this one was released). But it’s about falling in love at an amusement park, so it had to be included.
  • Jurassic ParkJurassic Park is like one of those amusement parks that just never quite reaches out to its target audience in the way intended. Sort of like Knott’s Berry Farm. Any amusement park where the attractions eat the paying visitors is not a good thing.
  • Batman: Mask of the Phantasm – sure, The Dark Knight was awesome, but don’t forget about this damn cool animated movie from the 1990’s that featured Batman, The Joker and a masked vigilante/villain called the Phantasm. The movie concludes with a gigantic theme park exploding and The Joker dying as a result.
  • The Living Daylights – James Bond and amusement parks? Oh yeah! I remember something about balloons popping and assassins.
By Erik Samdahl
Related categories: Top 10 Movie Lists
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  • Bryan

    Of course, there is “Roller Coaster”, about a terrorist planting bombs on roller coasters.

  • robin

    I came here just to post what Bryan said! That movie put me off rollercoasters for years!

  • Jean

    I would love to find out the list of all throller coaster movies

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