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SCARY DARK RIDES, by Doug Higley
Personal reminiscences of haunted houses and other thrill rides.
By Dan Cziraky
December 28, 1999
HOMINIDS by Robert J Sawyer
© 2002 Tor Books
Doug Higley (a.k.a. The Phantom of the Midway) is a long-time midway and boardwalk attraction enthusiast who pens columns on outdoor rides for CIRCUS REPORT and SHOW BIZ U.S.A. His previous book was THE LAST MUSEUM. SCARY DARK RIDES is a true labor of love, and isn't intended as the 'definitive guide' to those ride-thru haunted houses. Instead, Higley relates tales of the dark rides he's experienced (many of which are now gone), as well as ones that are still in the planning stages (including Universal's MEN IN BLACK: THE RIDE and Kansas City, Kansas' THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF OZ theme-park, due to open in 2002). Higley's tone is highly conversational, and he has an infectious fondness for these attractions. His descriptions of Disneyland's Haunted Mansion and Snow White's Scary Adventure are quite good at evoking a sense of what it's like to actually ride these attractions, but Higley is just as descriptive when it come to the dinky little trailer rides that tour the country in carnivals and county fairs. 'Even the worst of the dark rides CAN be effective,' he convinces us. 'A few buzzers going off and a decrepit mask poorly lit in a weak flash can do the job if the rider has their eyes closed! A common trait among neophytes and the very young.'
Higley peppers the book with photos, design art, his own stylized drawings, and even a pop-up centerfold. While most of this 'handcrafted,' self-published book was done on an old typewriter, Higley ends the book with the revelation that, yes, he HAS bought a computer; you can now e-mail him (email@example.com), and he has a SCARY DARK RIDES website up and running (Http://www.darkride.com). You pretty much need to be a fan of these rides to appreciate the book, which comes with Higley's personal Top Ten List of Dark Rides. With a little more effort and a lot more color photos, this could have been a great coffee-table book, certainly more appealing than Madonna's SEX or THE ART OF 'MARS ATTACKS!' SCARY DARK RIDES, by Doug Higley. Foreward by Bobby Reynolds. Doug Higley (111 Via Solaro, Encinitas, CA 92024-5326), 78 pp., illustrated, $19.95 + $3 shipping.