The first amusement park was originally a "folly" named Tivoli, which the ultra-rich Monsieur Boutin had opened in Paris in 1771. But, with the advent of the Revolution, his goods, the "folly" included, were appropriated..
It was then that a certain Gérard Desrivières decided to take over this sumptuous place and turn it into a permanent theatre garden, where one paid an admission fee, but which was open to all.
There he offered an assortment of existing leisure activities. This special feature ensured its success and it has been assimilated into the parks of today. The only difference is that he catered essentially to adults.
There one found the attractions of the fairs and the theatre gardens: hooplah, the see-saw (where people sat face to face on a plank with a central support and each one, in turn, with movement of the legs, caused the other to go down), and the daredevil (an acrobatic game played on a rope two metres up).
There one could also appreciate the pyrotechnic pantomimes (fireworks) of former royal festivals, and find out about new inventions: parachute jumps, aerostatic ascents and winged flights.
There archery, crossbow, and later, gun stalls could be found, as well as lotteries and equestrian exercises.
Visitors also played games that children play to this day: hide and seek, blind man's buff, and shuttlecock (badminton without a net).
All of this took place in the picturesque "folly" gardens, with their dance halls and their esplanade for shows and cafés. Balloon releases, thousands of coloured oil lamps, and scantily clad hostesses contributed to the glorification of the place.
Based on this model, amusement parks with the "Tivoli" name were created en masse throughout Europe. A "Tivoli" was created in Copenhagen in 1843; and it still exists today, having welcomed 260 million visitors in its lifetime.
Soon these gardens evolved somewhat and became more geared towards the family.
They therefore axquired new attractions such as the "Eole Tower", a combination of hoopla and the see-saw (two wooden see-saws on a turning axis), the katcheli or the Russian swing, composed of fixed gondolas turning 360o vertically, the forerunner of the Ferris wheel.
They also imported big dippers (from around 1800 to 1820), in which the ice was replaced by soap, and the water chute or water splash, known as the "Niagara leap", which was the forerunner of the flume ride. All these attractions functioned without the use of electricity.
Impressive speeds were attained. In 1816, for example, the first Parisian big dipper cars slid along at 40, even 60 kilometres an hour; sometimes, admittedly, with a few deaths and injuries.