View Full Version : DIY Dark Rides...

06-15-2007, 09:30 PM
Hey guys,

I am wondering if anyone here either runs there own dark ride? How?


Is there any sites with dark ride products were one could start his/her own dark ride?

Many thanks, -Tyler

06-17-2007, 11:02 PM
Check with dAFE, there are at least 2 home made dark rides out there. I would consider but I have no level land at all....

06-19-2007, 03:10 PM
I hope this link works,
This guy uses a dark ride for Halloween and Christmas..

06-19-2007, 08:11 PM
Thanks for the links guys! Know of any places that sell dark ride car/track systems.. new or used? -Tyler

07-23-2007, 12:56 PM

They have a Hollingsworth listed. Used to have a Disney dark ride for sale (I was talking with Verdun Manor at the time who was interested), but that one is no longer available (it was Horizons, FYI). Contact; they mave have leads 0on others not shown in the listing.

For the price, if you have a lot of room, might want to consider the monorail for the ultimate forest hayride gig? The monorail is actually so famous that it has its own Snopes entry concerning its name.

07-23-2007, 02:00 PM
Go to:
Use the navigation bar at the left and click on used rides, and then on amusements/dark rides. There are always a few there.

07-27-2007, 04:39 AM
I've scanned that site before...lots of cool stuff. Some of those dark rides are pure junk while others are really nice. One day I want to buy one of those double decker dark rides!!!


08-06-2007, 02:13 PM
Try this site:


Scroll down towards the bottom and you'll see the links to the Dark Ride that they built for House of Shock. It's VERY in-depth and VERY interesting...

10-01-2007, 10:59 AM
I hope this link works,
This guy uses a dark ride for Halloween and Christmas..

Hell All,

I've been seriously busy and finally had time to return. Just wanted to clarify that the guy mentioned to the post above is yours truely and have been a HauntWorld member for some time now.

Building a dark ride is a major tasking. Maintaining it is a nother task in it's own.

I'll gladly help or provide info where I can.

Dungeon Haunted Ride in 3D/Adventures in SantaLand

04-10-2008, 06:53 PM
Hey All, I have been working on my own dark ride for some time now. I started with phantasmechanics page about building a dark ride. I pretty much followed the guidelines and made it my own. I found it was much easier to use a simple jack shaft transmission than a cyclone drive for my application. Building my prototype was fairly easy wich made me scratch my head and ask-this must be wrong? But no-everything ran great. I was using Flat stock metal as the track but I think I will switch to a steel tube track and yoke wheel. Here is a couple of pics of my car and track. If anyone has any thoughts or ideas to share on building dark rides- Please do so!

Greg Chrise
04-13-2008, 10:46 PM
If you have the yoke system it gets rid of casters, which I had asked about on the phantasma whatever system. They said they were 4,000 pound each and could handle it but, the point loading is just asking for constant repairs which I understand they had to (only running it one year) Their multi stage motor and wheel ratcheting on the track looked too complicated. You just need rear wheel(s) that turn on the ground.

Looking at the old pretzel cars, I thought the modern equivelant would just be the rear axle and motor assembly, one piece from an electric golf cart, which I found brand new axles for $175 and motors for like $200. I see old carts all over the place here to possibly buy used for super cheap? Then the wheel rims get no tires and a large diameter thick pipe welded to the rim center stamping becomes the tire. just enough for the bottom of the axle to be off the ground. All just short the size of two passengers and time tested. No suspension just U bolted to the metal frame. The three points define a plane thing.

The transformers would put the juice through the track instead of batteries and so many feet per transformer that can be regulated (the golf cart gas pedal) differently at each section. Here it is a slow crawl, here faster, here really fast.

Metal wheels would have an intended slip so there would be no big "G Force" to the passengers and offer that unstable feel. It could also then take the abuse of going over humps and switches with little wear and nothing to fail and maintain.

To me, some of the high dollar $12,000 each Italian drive trains look just like what I'm describing except my idea would be under $500 for the whole chassis and be all brand new, ready for 40,000 miles or more. This way also, the total force on the track is more straight down only.

Back in the day all of this must certainly have had other industrial applications and just been adapted to these cars.

You could still have casters but they are only there as a precaution and regularly do not touch the floor. Only when a 400 pounder meets lateral acceleration?

04-14-2008, 12:29 PM
Heres a place to get a Dark Ride at a cost of $379,000

04-14-2008, 02:06 PM
Those are some really great ideas. I built my car using Go Cart parts. I used an 1/3 hp motor, belt drive, and jackshaft system. This keeps it at a steady pace. I would like to use the yoke drive like the old pretzel cars. I own a rotating pretzel and I think I will just copy the design of that. I am not able to find the #12 railroad stock track, so I think I am going to try a round steel rod track like sally corps ghostblaster. I figure this car cost around 500 dollars to make. Now I just need to aquire some space for a year round dark ride!

04-14-2008, 05:56 PM
Greg and Laff,

It all sounds simple and if it were that easy, that's what they would have done back in the 1920s on up thru today.
Another thing, IF you plan to open it up to any public venue, get ready for the inspectors to crawl in your nest. And I mean "ride" inspectors. Here in Oklahoma it's the Department of Labor. It's a tough road to prove it's a safe ride if it hasn't been thru the R&D of amusement ride companies and such and being approved for public use.
If you're doing a garage haunt thing, then perhaps you'll do ok, and I hope so.
As a sole owner of a dark ride the "Dungeon", I've learned a lot and have spent a lot doing it.
I'll provide info or assistance where I can if any questions come about.
It's a bigger sacrifice than most think, I promise ya that. (The House of Shock found that out.)

04-14-2008, 06:47 PM
Hey Tom, I checked out your page and i gotta say your dark ride looks amazing. I wish I lived closer to ride The Dungeon. Here in New York rides are also inspected by the department of labor. My cousin actually explained to me that I do not need an engineers degree in New York to build a ride-thank god! I know it will not be an easy task to build a commercial dark ride. I just like experimenting with prototypes and playing with the ride. If it takes me five years to get this ride going-that is fine. I have no time limit. I just finished building my Laffing Sal and she is yerning to be proudly displayed in front of a Dark Ride! http://youtube.com/watch?v=Yfc43S55dvY I do have a question if you can help- Can you reccomend a system that I could use to keep control over what cars enter certain zones to make sure that two cars are not in any given zone at the ame time? I think it might be some kind of logic controller with pir sensors but I am not sure. What do you use? Thanks so much.

04-14-2008, 07:51 PM
Hey Laff,
If you have the time and don't need the fancy stuff, then I wish you all the luck. You never know what happens when creating/building something like this.
Actually, I have a timer that tells when to send in the next car. Inside the ride, we have cameras in each room that we monitor in the back. This way we can see if a car stops, if someone gets out or if vandalism occurs. I big advantage for sure. But keeping the cars on a time of every 30 seconds input keeps them pretty much seperated from each other. I just use a metal contact strip wired to a timer/delay relay hooked up to a light for that. Quite simple actually. After about 30 seconds (it;s adjustable for more or less) a light comes on to send in the next car. You'll want complete (manual) control over each car sent in. Young kids and older folks need a little more time, but at least I know when I can send them in, laffing :)
I really need to update my web page, serously.
P.S. I have the perfect spot in front of my ride for good ole Sal.

04-14-2008, 08:08 PM
YI am more into sculpting, molding, vacuforming and that type of stuffea I recently got a medical seperation from the military so I have ALOT of time now. I slowly tinker on the ride inbetween. I really like the idea of that camera system. I would love to see more pictures of The Dungeon and hopefully an update soon.

04-15-2008, 07:00 PM
I looked at the House Of Shock web site, what ever happened to the ride, the write up just ends.

04-16-2008, 02:27 PM
There were several reasons.
Probably the biggest problem was the owners of House Of Shock in their trust and support for the ride. Lack of communication played in small parts. Then there were under-estimated power supply problems. And lastly, the owners expected the ride to pay for itself the first season.

Things like this can happen if you're not the sole owner of an attraction.

04-18-2008, 04:56 PM
That is to bad, it looked like it was coming along nicely. Maybe some day they will pick up where they left off.

04-21-2008, 12:11 PM
Saw this on Scream Scape, check it out.

07-03-2008, 04:56 PM
For anyone that is interested, I just found the Kennywood Goldrusher on ebay for 5k. This would give someone a real head start on getting a dark ride going.

08-04-2008, 07:51 AM
Hey wicc_ed, here are the photos of my ride system. Keep in mind it still is a prototype but works flawlessly so far. The first pic is of the jackshaft system to lower the rpm of the 1/2 hp motor. The second is two guide wheels attached to a bearing to allow rotation on the 1/4" flat stock rail. The copper milled block follows the 1/8" hot rail .

08-05-2008, 06:13 AM
Hey Laff,
Looking good. I have a question. Is the wheel opposite side of the chain free to rotate on it's own or is it physically attached/connected to the shaft and only turns when the shaft turns? Reason why I ask is because of the concern I've added below.

A vehicle's wheels rotate at different speeds, especially when turning corners. The differential is designed to drive a pair of wheels with equal force, while allowing them to rotate at different speeds. In vehicles without a differential, such as karts, both driving wheels are forced to rotate at the same speed, usually on a common axle driven by a simple chain-drive mechanism. When cornering, the inner wheel travels a shorter distance than the outer wheel, resulting in the inner wheel spinning and/or the outer wheel dragging. This results in difficult and unpredictable handling, damage to tires and roads, and strain on (or possible failure of) the entire drive train.

Railroad locomotive and car wheels do not have differentials; wheels are fastened to the axle. This means that wheels have to slip when moving on curved tracks. On sharp curves, such as those for mass transit, wheel slippage can be very noisy.

I wanted to throw that out there just in case you didn't think about it. This is the reason Pretzel cars have the rear wheel one-way clutch system because it has no differential rearend which allows the outer wheel on turns to spin quicker.

Also, do you have any pics or ideas of the track?

Keep us posted.

Just my thoughts,

08-05-2008, 12:57 PM
Hey Tom, ggod to hear from you again.
I took a lathe to one side of my axle and shaved it down two inches to .625.
This allowed me to attach a seperate bearing to one wheel wich allows them to rotate at different speeds.
Good point I must say. Anyone interested in a project like this can't forget that.
es I do have pictures of the track I will post shortly.
I'm actually in the process of cleaning out my barn now, so hopefully I can get some videos soon as well.

08-05-2008, 01:44 PM
Sounds like your on the right track :O (pun intended). Keep us posted.

11-19-2008, 01:23 AM
Hi all. Could someone give me some specs on the 1/2 hp motors? Any motor i look at thats 1/2 hp that i feel could do the job, is way expensive. Any help would be appreciated.

11-23-2008, 09:17 PM
This is my motor i have used for two years prototyping with. It's a pretty good deal, 5/8 shaft and capacitor start. http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=36549