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Elizabeth A. Clendinning

An amusement park is a commercially-operated, outdoor venue that offers games, rides, and other types of entertainment, including music. The amusement park concept originated in the pleasure gardens of 17th-century Europe, which were originally large landscaped outdoor spaces primary devoted to games with a few refreshment stands. Dances and social and instrumental concerts became commonly integrated into these pleasure gardens in the 18th century. (See Pleasure garden.) Another important part of early amusement park soundscapes was the mechanical organ, which was used by street performers as early as the 18th century and was frequently built into carousel rides by the end of the 19th century. Over the course of the 19th century, the popularity of amusement parks skyrocketed, especially in the United States, where large tracts of land were available for development. Bandstands and pavilions devoted explicitly to musical performances were common in the 19th century, in part influenced by the popular World’s Fairs, which were industrial and cultural expositions that featured specific stages devoted to performers from around the world. A change came with the ...