Setting Description Thesaurus: Amusement Park


Ferris wheel, roller coaster, haunted house, log ride, tea cup ride, sizzler, swinging pirate ship, mazes, fun house mirrors, Psychic tent, spinning apple ride, airplane ride, pony ride, boat rides, water gun boats, mini golf, go carts, bumper cars, merry-go-round, slides, kiddie ball pit/climbing area, carnival games: ring toss, guessing games, floating duck, pond fishing, basketball-through the hoop, dumbbell strength meter, shooting gallery, ball rolling, water gun blasting, ball toss, football toss through a tire, putting competitions, dart/balloon popping, toys, stuffed animal prizes, stuffed snakes, glittery hats, clowns, ringmaster, circus tents, rough-looking tattooed ride masters and game hawkers, mini donuts, corn dogs, cotton candy, popcorn strewn on the ground, garbage, wrappers, tags from toys, cigarette butts, patches of barf, garbage cans, people sweeping up trash, ticket booths, money exchange/ATMs, water bottles, pop cans, flyers, balloons, advertisements, loud & colorful signs and flags, bright colors, flashing light bulbs


too-loud music, screams, laughter, cheering, chanting, singing, bells, crying, clanking ride chains, whooshing of air brakes, chugging machinery, squealing brakes, feet running, people calling out to each other, corn popping, fries/donuts sizzling in vats of oil, pinging sound of game targets, pinball machines, balls rolling and thudding down game chutes or hitting the booth backdrop, balloons popping, the jingle of change, baby strollers, the papery crinkle exchange of bills, clapping, seatbelt clicking, hawkers calling out for people to come try the games, spooky/creepy noises from the haunted house (evil laughter, creaking, bats squeaking, ghosts moaning) blooping, beeping, dinging, jingling, rushing, roaring, scraping, shuddering


cigarettes, cotton candy, popcorn, french fries, mini donuts, grease, sugar, hot pavement, oiled machinery, babies with full diapers, vomit, garbage, body odor, sweat, bad breath, cinnamon from candy apples, hot caramel, metal


All manner of food & drink: popcorn, cotton candy, candy apples, burgers, corn dogs, doughnuts, ice cream, chocolate, fries, chips, pop, slushies, water, lemonade, rock candy, dipping dots, elephant ears, funnel cakes, sweat, gum, mints, aspirin


metal bars, seats with cracked padded cushions, handles with chipped paint, seat bets, plastic steering wheels & levers, worn balls, smooth plastic rings, greasy food, dripping ice cream, blotting blobs of ketchup off a shirt, crinkling up a hamburger wrapper, the icy cool of holding a fresh water bottle on the fingertips, thirst, cold/hot beverages sating thirst, holding children's' sweaty hands, keeping them close, brushing up against strangers on a crowded ride or in line, feeling a back pocket to make sure the wallet is still intact, punching buttons on a cell phone, the stringy fluff of cotton candy melting on tongue, sticky fingers, water soaked clothes from a log ride, dripping hair, tears or watery eyes from a scary plunge on a ride, the bottomless feeling in stomach, light-headedness

Helpful hints:

--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1:

"Amanda, are you ready to..." My voice drifted off, staring at the empty patch of asphalt where my daughter had stood only a moment before. I spun around, searching the crowd. "Amanda?" Bodies surged past, laughing parents pushing strollers, teenagers locked at the hip, blocking my view. "Amanda!" My gaze flicked to the nearby ring toss, where a row of gigantic plush bunnies begged to be grabbed by little fingers. Nothing. The corn dog stand with it's impossibly long line--hadn't she just pleaded how hungry she was? Everywhere I looked, a thousand distractions--bright balloons, hot dog carts, juggling clowns.

My frantic gaze caught on a flash of pink and a soft whimper escaped my lips. Beyond the press of bodies, a small, familiar form wearing a pink jumper lay curled up on a park bench, her eyes closed in sleep.

Example 2:

At the top of the Ferris wheel, the musical roar of the carnival dimmed, letting in the sound of the Amy's excited giggles and the crinkle of paper from the rolled-up bag of popcorn she held tight in one small fist. We shared a grin as she kicked her feet out at the open air. I loved this moment, I lived for it every year--when we reached the pinnacle of the rotation as the carriage opposite us stopped to exchange passengers. I pulled in a deep, clean breath. For one moment everything seemed so clear, so full of potential. So reachable. I could do anything I put my mind to.

The wheel shuddered to life, pulling forward, and then down. As we sank toward the ground my mind returned to the fight I'd had with Mary right before I left home, the constant buzzing of my work phone in my pocket. As we descended I grew heavier, the fog of music and noise enveloping me, dropping me back into reality.

--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Simile)

"Want to go again?" Betsy asked, bouncing on her toes. I forced a smile, but as the Barrel Twister clattered up above our heads, my stomach shuddered like a cranky washing machine.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

Joel shoved his broom against the dirty concrete, shuffling along the peanut shells, candy wrappers and bottle tops. After the rides were grounded and the music silenced, the fairground show its true colors. Not many saw it as he did, when the wind brushed hot dog wrappers up against greasy smeared tent flaps and the moonlight pointed out the faded signs and peeling paint. Once the last echos of laughter had disappeared along with the flashing lights and colorful balloons...well, peel back the carnival glitz and all you find is a corpse staring back at you.


Marian said...

Until now I didn't know donuts were fried in "vats of oil". I thought they were baked.

And I can't help thinking back on all the donuts I've ever eaten, for some reason...

Angela said...

Oh Marian. Marian, Marian, Marian. Have you never made doughnuts or seen them being made?

You know what...never mind. We'll live the fantasy together!

YES Doughnuts are baked. Perfectly healthy, full of broccoli and spinach and other good things! Eat!

PJ Hoover said...

Such a fun setting! I feel like I'm at Disney already!

Becca said...

Wonderful, Angela. Would you like to tell us what they put in hot dogs and ruin that for us, too?

Bish Denham said...

Another wonderful post! Just reading all the descriptive words I was there, in the amusement park.

Angela said...

Becca, only the finest cuts of meat go into hot dogs--everyone knows that the whole 'gristle and butt meat' is an Urban Myth.

fairchild said...

Oh, my goodness! I compeletely did not even see your setting thesaurus. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

You gals are wonderful. I hope you know you are helping a whole generation of upstarts to become better writers, and will probably have a hand in much of the richer literature to come.

Angela said...

Wow--high praise, Fairchild! I consider myself an upstart, too!

Donna said...

Personally, I prefer seaside amusement parks. :) Ironically enough, when this posted, I was at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk riding rides and eating food that I'd never eat at home. Coney Island and Santa Cruz have places in my heart. Even though Coney Island is slowly being dismantled. *grumble* But one of my favorite smells is that amalgam of fried food, sweets, cotton candy, salt water taffy and everything else that's sold on the Boardwalk. That combined smell is sucha comfort.

Anonymous said...

It is very interesting for me to read this blog. Thank you for it. I like such topics and anything that is connected to this matter. I definitely want to read more on that blog soon.

Steena Holmes said...

This perfect - thank you! I have a carnival scene that is the pivitol in my novel and this will come in handy!


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