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Tunnel of Love

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A type of boat ride commonly found in carnivals and amusement parks that is mostly geared towards couples. The Tunnel of Love typically features Swan Boats or rowboats for a pair of riders to share as they float through a dark tunnel. The tunnels are sometimes a relaxing romantic ride that will encourage couples to get intimate or a spooky themed ride that will encourage couples to cling to each other. A comedic turn of the trope occurs when a person discovers they are embracing or kissing the wrong person after emerging from the dark ride. A sad version can occur if a person is riding by themselves or with someone other than the person they desire.

This type of ride is rare to find nowadays in any Real Life amusement park, having started to go extinct in 1960s, it was once very common. Most writers today likely have no familiarity with the real ride, but the trope was used in so many pieces of media as a device for creating romantic tension that several generations have grown up familiar with the idea without ever experiencing one in person.

Compare Old-Fashioned Rowboat Date, and see Ferris Wheel Date Moment for another classic carnival romance. Not related to Romantic Ride Sharing, which is also a romantic scene but with a couple on a two wheeled vehicle. See also Ten Minutes in the Closet, another activity that involves giving a couple a short amount of time alone.


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  • This 1970s TV commercial for Bic butane lighters. [1]

    Anime & Manga 
  • One episode of Ranma ˝ sees Ryōga and Ukyō hatch a scheme to send Ranma and Akane through a haunted Tunnel of Love that supposedly causes any couple who goes through it to break up. But their Simple Plan goes awry when Ranma and Akane display so much Belligerent Sexual Tension that the ghosts haunting the tunnel decide that they aren't a couple and leave them alone. The ghosts then turn their attention to Ryōga and Ukyō and try to break them up. When they truthfully explain that they aren't a couple, the ghosts persist on the grounds that "you two are more of a couple than they were".

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • The Far Side: One comic showcased four rides centered around the concept: a standard Tunnel of Love with two beaming riders floating out in the boat, a "Tunnel of Despair" which had the riders looking miserable as they left, a "Tunnel of Non-Communication" which had the boat seats in single-file order, and a "Tunnel of Mosquitos" which had the riders swatting at dozens of the pests.
  • Foxtrot: While on a trip to the fair in one arc, Paige is asked by Morton if she can join him in the Tunnel of Love. Paige angrily spells it out to him that she loathes him...and the last panel shows them in the Tunnel of Loathe instead.
    Paige: This fair has too many rides.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Played with in Amélie. Amélie's first meeting with her future love interest Nino is on a ghost train, where Nino is dressed as a ghost, and strokes her face while saying "Whooooooo!"
  • The Crowd: John and Mary go through a Tunnel Of Love ride at Coney Island. The gag is that at the end, a curtain labeled "Do They Neck?" is pulled back, to show onlookers outside who is and isn't kissing at the end of the ride.
  • In Horrors of the Black Museum, Rick and Angela take a ride on the Tunnel of Love at the funfair. While they are in the tunnel, Rick transforms into the killer and stabs Angela just as the boat emerges.
  • In Once Upon a Spy, the secret headquarters for the spy organisation that Chenault and Tannehill work for is hidden under an amusement park. The entrance is through the Tunnel of Love, thus requiring Chenault and Tannehill to make multiple trips together through the tunnel. At the end of the film, Jack bribes the operator to send them through again and they use the tunnel for its intended purpose and kiss.
  • In Strangers on a Train, one half of the "Strangers on a Train"-Plot Murder is Bruno killing Miriam, the flagrantly unfaithful wife of Guy. When Miriam goes on a date to an amusement park with two men, Bruno stalks her with the intent of killing her there. Miriam notices and starts flirting with Bruno, and he follows her when she rides in the Tunnel of Love with her "friends".

  • The Dresden Files: In "Love Hurts", the Red Court is using a Tunnel of Love ride as the conduit for a spell forcing riders to fall in love with each other as part of experiments to synthesize artificial love, including a brother and sister.
  • In Against a Dark Background the tunnel is so long and dark that the only reason for going inside is to have sex, and there are boat marshalls at the entrance to make sure no-one goes in who doesn't want to. The man in the boat with Sharrow says if she does go in the tunnel with him, he'll tell her what he wished for earlier (which was to get into her pants, making this a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy).
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: In The Lightning Thief, Ares demands that Percy, Annabeth, and Grover retrieve Aphrodite's scarf which the couple left behind in the tunnel at an abandoned amusement park. The reason why Ares didn't retrieve it himself becomes apparent when the heroes set off a trap that Hephaestus had set up in the tunnel.

    Live-Action TV 
  • CSI: Played for drama in "Justice Is Served." A mother uses the darkness of a Tunnel of Love ride at a travelling carnival as cover to drown her daughter, hoping to pass the girl's death off as an accident due to a seatbelt being too loose, and accuses the carnival of negligence.
  • Get Smart. In "The Wax Max", while at an amusement park 99 convinces a reluctant Max (who insists they are Just Friends) to take the Tunnel of Love ride. It turns into a Tunnel of Attempted Assassination instead as KAOS tried to kill them.
  • Keeping Up Appearances: In the seaside funfair episode, Hyacinth rides a ghost train with Mr. Farrini lusting after her, who handcuffs himself to her. In the same episode, Mr Cooper-Bassett takes his wife of twenty-five years on the same ghost train, because they did this when they first met. Once on the train, Hyacinth accosts him from the car in front, telling him she is still expecting him at one of her candlelight suppers.
  • On Who's the Boss?, Tony and Angela finally initiate their Relationship Upgrade in a Tunnel of Love.


    Theme Parks 
  • "it's a small world" can be seen as a sort of sister of these, as it promotes global, brotherly love.

    Video Games 
  • Left 4 Dead 2 features one in a segment of the Dark Carnival campaign. Many of the characters poke fun at the situation and each other, peaking as they exit into the "swan maintenance room of love."
  • Sam & Max Hit the Road: The Tunnel of Love is one of the attractions Sam and Max can ride on at the Kushman Bros. Carnival. The Freelance Police actually have to go behind the scenes to find an informant who can tell them more about how to find Bruno the Bigfoot and Trixie the Giraffe-Necked Girl.
  • In Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage!, one of the minigames in Dragon Shores is a Tunnel of Love ride that Spyro can go on. It will show NPCs randomly paired together as they pass by in boats, and when Spyro emerges from the tunnel he is paired with a random NPC.
  • In Poptropica, Monster Carnival Island has a tunnel of love. Two teenagers are stuck in it, and you have to go in with a fly mask to scare them out.
  • One of the rewards for chastity in Afterlife is one of these, which is "dark, romantic, a little spooky, and last a loooooong time."

    Web Animation 
  • Played for Laughs in Season 5 of Gridiron Heights, in which the quarter-season carnival has "The Tunnel of Jordan Love", designed to help starting QBs bond with their backups. It's not all smooth sailing: Carson Wentz is clobbered by a low archway and knocked out of his boat after he fails to obey safety instructions, while Ryan Fitzpatrick spends the time subjecting a bemused Tua Tagovailoa to an endless When I Was Your Age... monologue.

    Web Video 
  • While the Defunctland video about Garfield's Nightmare was about the eponymous dark ride, Kevin Perjurer also touches on the history of these kind of dark rides - highlighting that a few are only tunnels of love by reputation. He also made the mistake of asking for personal anecdotes about people getting handsy on the titular ride.
    "To borrow a bit of Pittsburgh-ese: Yinz are nasty."

    Western Animation 
  • In the American Dad! episode "May the Best Stan Win", Francine goes on "The Chocolate Tunnel of Love" at Hershey Park with Stan's cyborg future self. During which, he begins a fight with the real Stan.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: In one episode, Wheeler's birthday leads to the team ending up at a carnival, and Wheeler and Linka take a ride on one. Unfortunately, Wheeler spends most of the ride asleep, having a nightmare. When he wakes up, Linka's surprised that he hasn't even tried to kiss her yet.
  • In the classic Disney short "Donald's Double Trouble" Donald hires a suave lookalike to take Daisy out on a date and make him look better. Of course the double tries to steal Daisy, taking her to a carnival including a Tunnel of Love. See this here.
  • The Fairly OddParents!:
    • In the episode "Love at First Height", Timmy, after wishing himself for a 16-year-old body to go to all of the rides at Adrenaland, and for Vicky to have a crush on him, settles for a ride at the Tunnel of Love to unwish the wish.
    • In another episode, Vicky is seen on the Tunnel of Love with a bag of cash.
  • On the Gravity Falls episode "The Time-Travelers Pig", after Robbie and Wendy become a couple, they go on "The Tunnel of Love and Corndogs" at Stan's Mystery Fair.
  • The first episode of Hailey's On It! has Hailey and her best friend Scott (who she's supposed to kiss to complete her list that will save the world) end up on one and it looks like they're going to kiss...until Hailey vomits on him.
  • Hey Arnold!:
    • In the season one episode "Operation Ruthless", Helga attempts to sabotage Arnold's chances of getting paired up with Ruth in the Tunnel of Love ride. While Arnold doesn't get paired with Ruth, Helga fails to get paired up with him and ends up with Brainy instead.
    • In "Love and Cheese", Arnold goes on the Tunnel of Love with Lila. Helga sabotages their swan boat by drilling holes at the bottom.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • In Easter Yeggs, Bugs Bunny is chased into a hollow log by Elmer Fudd. The other end of the log has somehow been made into a Tunnel of Love, and Bugs and Elmer are in a boat embracing, until Elmer snaps out of it, and the chase resumes.
    • One Pepé Le Pew cartoon has the amorous skunk chase Penelope into a tunnel of love. At the other end, Pepe is in one of the boats, only instead of Penelope, he's unwittingly romancing a hapless rider. Stunned by the situation, the man stumbles over to the local Foreign Legion recruitment office, signs up and faints.
  • The Loud House:
    • The cow-themed amusement park "Dairyland" features a tunnel-of-love-type ride called the "Tunnel of Butter".
    • The episode "A Fair to Remember" has Lori going on the Tunnel of Love with Clyde in order to make Bobby jealous when he chooses to spend more time with Lincoln instead of her. Lincoln, however, begins to feel guilty about hogging Bobby and convinces him to go on the Tunnel of Love with Lori.
  • In The Owl House episode "Knock, Knock, Knockin' on Hooty's Door", Hooty abducts Amity and tries to get her and Luz to admit their feeling for each other. He gets them into the basement (Luz with a note, Amity by aforementioned kidnapping), then drops them down a trap door into a sub-basement, where he has somehow constructed a tunnel of love, complete with music, animatronics, and props designed to show Amity that Luz has feelings for her too. Unfortunately Luz, afraid that Amity is too cool for such a ride, goes all out to destroy it. Amity, actually flattered by some of the displays, takes Luz's behavior as an implicit rejection. Luckily, they clear things up shortly after.
  • Rugrats: At a carnival, a guy in a Reptar suit chases Angelica into the Tunnel of Love where Stu and Didi are spending time together.
  • In the Rocko's Modern Life episode "Love Spanked", Rocko goes on a dating show to choose between three mystery women. He is paired with the third contestant who turns out of be Heffer. During their date, they are on the Tunnel 'O' Love where Heffer explains what happened to a furious Rocko.
  • The Simpsons episode "Love, Springfield Style" has it used as a Framing Device when Homer and Marge get stuck in a spooky-themed Tunnel of Love thanks to one of Bart's pranks.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Tunnel of Glove", SpongeBob and Pearl get stuck on the eponymous ride. However, SpongeBob and Pearl are not dating, but merely friends, despite what Pearl's friends think.
  • In The Perils of Penelope Pitstop episode "Carnival Calamity", after she escapes the Hooded Claw by unraveling his pants, Penelope enters the tunnel of love alone, followed by the Ant Hill Mob.
  • The Dick Van Dyke episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies has Dick explain a tunnel of love ride to Shaggy and Scooby as the three of them go through it.
  • The Family Guy episode "Tea Peter" has Peter and friends go to a Tea Party rally, with one of the attractions being the "Tunnel of Self-Love", where men go through the tunnel alone with a copy of Playboy.
    Ride Operator: Would you like to buy a photo of yourself on the ride, sir?
    Customer: No I would not.


Video Example(s):


Luz and Amity's First Date

Hooty creates one for Luz and Amity, much to Luz's embarrassment. The tunnel section is played for Cringe Comedy, since most of the messages are groan-worthy and several of the displays are unintentionally creepy. (Though it's also played for Narm Charm from Amity's perspective since she finds it charming despite its over-the-top nature). It's then Played for Drama Luz destroying the tunnel out of fear of Amity's rejection causes Amity to think that Luz doesn't like her.

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Main / TunnelOfLove

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