The Fun Is at The Fair – Traveling Entertainment Trends – Fair and Carnival Rides and Games

The glittering lights, the scent of popcorn and cotton candy, the screams of happy riders on roller coasters and tilt-a-whirls, these are timeless pleasures at fairs and carnivals. But what are some of the more recent trends in rides and games that patrons enjoy and fair and carnival owners recommend?

a fair ride shot with a long exposure at night toned with a ret

At G & S shows in Garden Grove, Calif, Owner Tony Guadagno said the popular rides today depend on the age of the rider. A family owned business – the G & S stands for Guadagno and Sons – the company keeps its hands on the pulse of the carnival business, and knows the audience well. “The more thrill the ride offers, the better for older kids. The most popular are the Thunderbolt, the Scrambler, the Tilt-a-Whirl and the Kamakaze. For younger kids, we have a kiddie coaster that’s a big hit, and the O Shoot, which is a big, circular slide. Older people prefer the Century Wheel, which is a large Ferris Wheel. Everyone enjoys that.” As to the most popular games, Guadagno cited games played in a group setting as tops. “As an example of what’s popular, there’s the water race, where you shoot a water gun at a balloon, filling it until it pops.” As with rides, top games depend upon the age of the player. “Teens may like baseball toss games. Younger kids prefer the type where you pull a fish out of a tank. Dime pitches and ball pitches are also solid game attractions, and have a wide appeal.”

In Austin, Texas, John Hanschen, owner of The Mighty Thomas Carnival, said his most popular ride cuts across all ages in appeal. And it’s one of the rides popular for G & S as well. “It’s the Century Wheel. Everyone loves to ride the Ferris Wheel. Kids also love the Monster Truck ride. They look and even sound just like real monster trucks, thanks to a good quality speaker system.” As to games, Hanschen finds a dart game to be the most consistently popular. “Balloon Bust, which is a pop-the-balloons game, that is an all time favorite,” he said.

At A&A Attractions in Fairbury, Ill., Owner Susan Headley said her most popular rides throughout the Illinois and Wisconsin areas she serves, are the Tilt-a-Whirl for big kids, and the Dragon Wagon ride for little ones. “The Dragon Wagon is a roller coaster for small children that’s shaped like a dragon. Kids love that. Slides are also wildly popular with all ages. Our slide is probably ultimately the top draw.” In regard to games, Headley said a balloon toss and two fishing games are tops. “There’s the shark game, where they get to fish out a shark. Fishy-fish is another popular thing to play. Small children catch plastic fish from the water to get a prize.”

At the Keith County Fair in Ogallala, Neb., Myrna Spurgin, fair treasurer, said that hands down the most popular ride is a combine derby. “The combine is entered into a contest. It’s similar to a monster trucks event or bumper cars. Essentially the drivers crash into each other, and at the end of the contest, whoever is still standing is the winner. It’s popular not just with participants but also with viewers,” she said. Of more traditional rides, the most popular for Spurgin is one cited by several other carnival and fair operators. “Our top ride? The Ferris Wheel, for sure. People love that. And as far as games go, a big favorite is Hamster Balls. Those are huge inflatable balls that kids can get inside. It’s rolled into a pool of water, and the kids can bounce around in them,” she explained. “Prize-winning games are not as big for us, although we do have a few popular contests that offer prizes, such as eating donuts off a string with your hands tied behind your back, and bungee jumps.”

At Venardos Circus Productions, in Sherman Oaks, Calif., Owner Kevin Venardos, said his most popular rides are classic. “A Ferris Wheel, carousels, those kinds of classic and nostalgic rides, some that might even have antiques put in place to create atmosphere for an event, those are the most successful.” His most popular games are equally classic. “Bean bag toss is a big one. What works best for us are things that are simple, interactive and fun. There’s a little competition involved, but what players are really doing is enjoying time with one another. The shared experience – that’s what’s magic about a carnival, a fair or a circus.”

Recent News

Tourist Attractions & Parks magazine is on the move!

Published February 14, 2018
Creative Works Brings Fantasy Mini-Golf Course to Life at ShadowLand

Creative Works Brings Fantasy Mini-Golf Course to Life at ShadowLand

Published February 14, 2018

Betson Expands Florida Operations and Adds Key Employees

Published February 14, 2018
Making the Food Fun at Family  Entertainment Centers, Amusement Parks and Waterparks

Making the Food Fun at Family Entertainment Centers, Amusement Parks and Waterparks

Published February 14, 2018
Games and Prizes that Are Tops <br> Perspectives from Operators and Locations

Games and Prizes that Are Tops
Perspectives from Operators and Locations

Published February 14, 2018
A Season for Fun More of the Year <br> Staving Off Shutdowns at Large Parks

A Season for Fun More of the Year
Staving Off Shutdowns at Large Parks

Published February 14, 2018
Timezone Group Partners with Quadrant Private Equity to Accelerate Growth

Timezone Group Partners with Quadrant Private Equity to Accelerate Growth

Published February 14, 2018

The Future of Electric Go-Karts Is Here

Published January 11, 2018
Trends in Coin-Op and  Redemption Games

Trends in Coin-Op and Redemption Games

Published January 10, 2018

The Latest News from Creative Works

Published January 10, 2018

F2FEC’s 2018 SOUL Experience will Feature a Keynote Speaker from The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center

Published December 8, 2017

The Cloud Coaster Is Recognized at the 2017 IAAPA Attractions Expo

Published November 28, 2017
Amazing Jakes Now Offers a Helios Pro Laser Tag System

Amazing Jakes Now Offers a Helios Pro Laser Tag System

Published November 28, 2017
The Friedman Group, Inc., Offers Broad Insurance Coverage at Fair Prices

The Friedman Group, Inc., Offers Broad Insurance Coverage at Fair Prices

Published November 14, 2017
Triotech Names Cirque Du Soleil Alumni  as Vice President Creation

Triotech Names Cirque Du Soleil Alumni as Vice President Creation

Published October 26, 2017
Lazer Gate in Massachusetts Upgrades to Helios Pro

Lazer Gate in Massachusetts Upgrades to Helios Pro

Published October 25, 2017
Extreme Engineering to Unveil All-New Cloud Coaster

Extreme Engineering to Unveil All-New Cloud Coaster

Published October 25, 2017