Powered Up for Fun
November 1, 2012
How Bumper Cars Enhance the Guest Experience
Bumper cars are classic family fun, and while once relegated to amusement parks, they are now finding homes in bowling centers, Family Entertainment Centers and even flea markets where they play a major role in enhancing customer experience.
Known nationally as America’s largest weekend flea marketplace, Traders Village has three locations. The original site, which was founded 40 years ago, is located outside the Fort Worth/Dallas area in Grand Prairie, Texas. Two additional sites are in Houston and San Antonio. The three locations together welcome more than 5.5 million shoppers annually. Over the past two years, the Grand Prairie location has added amusement rides so that the marketplace would be more family friendly. Six months ago, Traders Village expanded the amusements to include bumper cars from the Independence, Ore.-based Riders Development Company (RDC). The marketplace has incorporated their mascot, Freddie the Flea, into the bumper cars attraction, naming the bumper cars attraction Freddie’s Fender Bender.
“The bumper cars were a natural fit,” explained Tim Anderson, president of Traders Village. “They are a family classic. We had been adding FEC elements for a while and already had 11 other rides at our location. The bumper cars are such a big attraction for us. We have folks lining up to ride them from the time we open to the time we close.”
Anderson acknowledged that before the amusements, children who came with their parents to the marketplace were bored. However, now that the marketplace has something for all ages, families can spend the day at Traders Village, and they make return visits as well.
“Eighty to 85 percent of our Grand Prairie shoppers live within 150 miles from the marketplace. About 10 percent live throughout Texas and the rest are visitors from all over the world, so to have attractions where people enjoy them for one day or for multiple visits makes a lot of sense for us.”
When Traders Village decided to add rides and amusements, they understood that for them to be successful, they must be affordable.
“Those who wish to purchase tickets can pay $2 per ride or buy a wrist band to ride all the rides all day for eight dollars. We have made it a fun and affordable place to take the entire family,” Anderson said. “It’s a great way to spend a weekend.”
As General Manager for RDC, Tami Dean works with locations to incorporate bumper cars into their facilities. The company has clients not only in the United States but in Europe and throughout the world.
“Bumper cars work well with bowling alleys, arcades and many other businesses. They help increase revenue,” Dean noted. “Our clients are going back to durability and reliable products that will not only pay back on their initial investment but will make sense financially with maintenance. Our bumper cars also require only a small footprint at a location, which again increases revenue per square foot.”
The most popular RDC bumper car is the electric floor powered car followed by the battery powered car. The company is also introducing an illuminated car with LED lights that move in different patterns as the cars move.
“We always look for ways to make the bumper cars brighter and more fun to ride,” Dean said. “We want them to stand out at the locations and draw people in.”
Spare Time Lanes in Kennewick, Wash., offers 24 bowling lanes, an arcade and the newest addition, RDC Bumper Cars. Co-owner Mark Frank said the bumper cars have extended the busy season, which runs from September through April, for the facility.
“September through April is still our busiest time, but the response to the bumper cars has already increased our customer numbers,” Frank said. “We invested about $60,000 and we have eight bumper cars, and last month when our ‘season’ officially began, our birthday party bookings took off. We are now doing 15-20 birthday parties per weekend as customers opt for our packages that include the bumper cars. They definitely have become the stars of our FEC.”
Frank offers the bumper car rides as a separate attraction where customers can pay $3 per ride, and he believes the addition of the bumper cars will diversify his demographic.
“It’s easy to ride the cars. There is no waiting to pay in line. Kids and adults buy a card for a certain amount of money and swipe the card until it is empty. They love that they can just swipe and ride, and it’s easy for us to manage as well. …We used to have 40 lanes, but we took out 26 lanes and instead added the bumper cars,” Frank said.
John Parlet founded John’s Incredible Pizza 15 years ago. Now, with nine locations in California and one in Oregon, Parlet’s chain has become synonymous with good food and family fun. Customers are drawn not only to the buffet-style pizza, pasta, salad and other menu items at John’s Incredible Pizza, but to the fun atmosphere, which includes game rooms and RDC bumper cars that were added in each new location as it was built.
“We love the bumper cars, and we feel they have proven themselves, and that having them in our locations has contributed to our success,” said Parlet. “We have incorporated them into all our birthday packages plus individuals and families come to ride them after they eat. They purchase FunWorld Credits on a Fun Card, which they swipe to gain access to the bumper cars, attractions or amusements. It’s a convenient and economical way for families to have fun together and that is why we are here.” -