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Five Movies with Amusement Park Scenes You May Not Remember

Updated on September 18, 2012

Fading Into Memory

Amusement Parks, carnivals, and fairs have played important roles in movies since the media first began. Whether in the title, a quick flash, a scene, or an entire movie, our fascination with amusement parks is reflected in the movies. Outside of visiting the parks themselves, seeing them on the big screen is the next best thing.

I've gathered a list of movies that I have always liked that have some interesting amusement park scenes. You may not remember them, but chances are you can see them again on Turner Classic Movies, On-Demand or by renting the DVD or Blueray. Don't let them fade into memory. Get your ticket, sit down, buckle in, and have a great time.

This photo of the Coney Island Cyclone is from Coney Island Adventureland.


State Fair

All Versions

There were three versions of the State Fair movies, which were based on the best seller by Phillip Strong. I've lumped them all together because despite their differences, they all have the same basic story. I also happen to like each one.

The basic story is of the Frake family who attend their state fair. The father wants to win the prize for his hog, Blue Boy. The mother wants to win the prize for her pickles and mincemeat. The son and daughter find romance at the fair. During the fair there's drama and laughter and sadness. It's a down home, feel good story you can't get enough of.

1933 State Fair starred Janet Gaynor and Will Rogers. It takes place at the Iowa State Fair. The fair setting is very much studio with some footage of a roller coaster. There are actual rides set up on the studio midway. This first version was nominated for the Academy Awards Best Picture.

1945 State Fair starred Jeanne Crain and Dana Andrews. It was turned into a musical by the great duo Rodgers and Hammerstein and the picture won an Academy Award for best song; "It's A Grand Night For Singing." Again, the Iowa fairgrounds was set up in a studio. The roller coaster ride was pieced together from footage for two different coasters. Look for the different styles of coaster cars. It's also a very long ride, which, were it real, I would love, but it's just the same track over and over again.

1962 State Fair had an all-star cast with Pat Boone, Bobby Darrin, Ann-Margaret, and Alice Faye, but it wasn't considered a success. This version took place at the Texas State Fair and was actually filmed on location. Excellent footage of rides popular to the time period. This one is my favorite.

1945 State Fair Stock Photo shows Jeanne Crain and Dana Andrews singing on the Circle Swing.

State Fair on DVD

State Fair [VHS]
State Fair [VHS]

I could only find this one on VHS, but I'm sure there's a DVD version out there somewhere.


Where Angels Go Trouble Follows

This 1968 film was the sequel to "The Trouble With Angels" which starred Hayley Mills. At the end of the film Hayley Mills decides to become a nun. Rosalind Russell reprises her role of Mother Superior in "Where Angels Go Trouble Follows." Stella Stevens took on the role of Sister Clarence who supposedly was Hayley Mills character as a nun.

The story has the girls of St. Francis heading west on a school bus driven by Mary Wicks, for a religious youth conference. They encounter many problems along the way.

The best part of the movie is their stop at Dorney Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania. This is vintage Dorney and enthusiasts will love the park footage that includes the Rocket Swing and the Thunderhawk roller coaster.

My friend, Dan, took this picture of El Fundo the Dorney Park clown, above the old entrance, many years ago.

Where Angels Go Trouble Follows



This 1964 movie starred Elvis Presley as a drifter riding his motorcycle along a country road when he's hit by a jeep driven by the worker of a local carnival. The carnival owner, Barbara Stanwyck, happens to also be in the jeep and she offers Elvis' character a place to stay at the carnival until his bike is fixed. Romance, drama, and a little suspense, as well as lots of songs by the King of Rock and Roll.

Practically the entire film is shot at the carnival. Great opportunity to view vintage rides: an Eli Ferris Wheel, Roll-O-Plane, Octopus, Carousel and the kiddie ride Bulgy the Whale. Also watch for the double Ferris Wheel in the scene where Elvis is at the big amusement park talking to Maggie Morgan.

Stock photo of Elvis and Barbara Stanwyck riding the carnival carousel. For carousel enthusiasts, it's a 1945 aluminum Allan Herschell carousel.


Amusement Park Question

Do You Watch Movies Because They Have Amusement Park Scenes?

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Stranger On A Train

Based on a novel by Patricia Higgsmith, and starring Robert Walker, this Alfred Hitchcock classic is riveting. I've seen it dozens of times and I'm on the edge of my seat each time.

Two strangers meet on a train. Each is having a problem with someone in their life. They discuss criss-cross murders, each one will kill the person the other one wants dead. And so the ride begins. It all comes to a head at an amusement park. Although I know that the carousel can't possibly spin that fast, it still makes for an exciting climax.

Look for the Tunnel of Love and a very nice Allan Herschell carousel.

Stock photo.

Strangers on A Train


Something Wicked This Way Comes

I read this novel by Ray Bradbury when I was a kid and it creeped me out, but not enough to avoid amusement parks and carnivals. Disney made this novel into a movie in 1983 starring Jason Robards and Jonathan Pryce.

The story is about two best friends who live next door to each other and usually get into some sort of trouble. They look forward to the fall carnival, but quickly discover that this is no ordinary carnival. The resplendent carousel is always out of order, unless you want to change your age. Critics didn't like this movie, but I find it creepy fun.

The carnival setting is outdoors and features an antique wooden carousel and an Ely Ferris Wheel.

Photo from Disney archives.

Something Wicked This Way Comes

eBay Offerings

Here are some movie options with state fair, carnival and amusement park scenes.

Let me know. Tell me about movies with amusement park scenes I might have forgotten.

Do You Remember These Movies?

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