There’s something that’s just plain fun about bumper cars, whether enjoyed by children at a birthday party, as a part of an adult celebration, or for a family night out. In short, bumper cars mean success for entertainment businesses both in the United States and internationally.
Tami Dean, president of Ride Development Company in Independence, Ore., sees the worldwide market first hand, as RDC participates in a variety of international exhibit shows. “Most recently, we have participated in the Dubai Middle East Attraction and Leisure Show, and the Euro Amusement Show,” she noted. She has observed a marked increase in international interest for bumper cars. “It’s translated into a new growth area for us. Currently, RDC has bumper car systems in 28 different countries.” Why the international growth? “We attribute it to the fact that bumper cars can be enjoyed by the whole family. International owners like the simplicity of our systems and easy maintenance.”
Dean sees a solid growth for bumper car attractions at family entertainment centers and franchised amusement centers throughout the United States as well. “It’s been our experience that once an owner purchases an RDC bumper car system for one location, they invariably come back and order additional systems for other locations.” Because they see how successful the ride is first hand, Dean said, “Their own internal operating staff ends up being our best salesmen.”
In fact, RDC has received many testimonials from past and current clients who’ve benefitted from an increase in their overall business revenue when they add bumper cars to their attractions. “They tell us how much their customers like bumper cars, because they appeal to everyone in the family. And, our customers have said many times that our products are easy to maintain, which reduces operating expenses. It’s not by accident that our company is called ‘the reliable one,’” Dean said.
Jack Canouse, managing partner and co-founder of Stars and Strikes Family Entertainment Centers with multiple locations in the Atlanta, Ga., area, said that he’s seen a great deal of benefit from adding bumper cars to his attractions. “We add bumper car rides to our birthday party packages, and I think it really helps increase our business, because we have more to offer than just bowling and video games. Adults love bumper cars, too, and that definitely helps us to up-sell to adults, and increases our corporate business as well.” Canouse’s customers continue to help sell him on the ride. “We have five locations, and in the last one, we didn’t include bumper cars in our attractions. Our customer base let us know they weren’t pleased, so we’ll be adding them soon.” He added, “Bumper cars have increased our business; it’s a pure add-on revenue. We use RDC bumper systems, and that’s a reliable product that we’re happy with as well.”
Canouse said the primary customers for bumper cars are “two-thirds children and about a third adults. Many of the adults participate as part of a group.” He promotes his bumper car attraction prominently on his website. “We also have a database of about a hundred thousand Stars and Strikes loyalty members. We’ll put out email blasts with coupons for bumper cars, which also promotes the attraction.”
In Madrid, Spain, Alejandro Gómez, spokesman for Par 8,000 Mini Golf, said that bumper cars have created higher family traffic at his location. “Kids are highly attracted to this ride, and we’ve also seen an increased number of birthday parties because of it. The primary customers are children ages 5 to 12,” Gomez stated. He promotes the ride simply by placing it prominently within his attraction. “We’re in a major shopping mall, and we have the ride located in a prime space, in sight of the people walking by. Customers see it and are impulsively drawn in. It attracts customers inside our location.”
At Michiana Indoor Speedway, in Mishawaka, Ind., Owner Paulo Teixeira said that bumper cars have been a great success for his 60,000-square-foot attraction. “I have many attractions, mini-golf, go-karts, bowling. Bumper cars were added in 2011 and they were paid off in less than two years. I was very happy I made the decision to add them.” He noted that the ride has been trouble free. “I bought them from RDC, and they are great quality. In four years, I’ve never had any problems. I would recommend them to any Family Entertainment Center.”
Teixeira said his primary bumper car riders are tweens to teens ages 12 to 19, but that the ride “calls to everyone, from children to older people.” While Teixeira does no specific promotions about the bumper cars, he does advertise his attractions frequently. “And of course, we always mention that we have bumper cars in our promotions.”
Ron Westphal, general manager at Parkway Bowl/Boardwalk in El Cajon, Calif., said that the attraction’s parent company Newport Diversified, adds attractions every five years. “We want to make sure what we offer doesn’t get old. When we selected bumper cars, we got rid of some old video games for space, and we’ve found that we’re really reaping the benefit of this new attraction. They appeal to all ages, that’s what’s so neat about them. Little kids ride with their parents, and they love them. Teens love them. Everyone loves them. That’s what we really like in this business.” Westphal promotes his rides through email blasts, and in the summer, television spots. He definitely includes the bumper car attraction, called Krazy Cars, as part of his advertising. He also promotes the ride with visual cues. “We have a great lighting package with Krazy Cars, black lights and LED lights. We leave them on even if the ride isn’t operating. It’s a very attractive, sexy look. We have six different activities and rides, and people will just be drawn to the bumper cars. We offer them as add-ons to birthday parties, and include them in unlimited ride wrist bands to promote them, too.”
At C.J. Barrymores in Clinton Township, Mich., General Manager David Dalpizzol said that adding bumper cars has helped to grow his winter business. “It’s given us a strong new attraction to promote party bookings. It’s a nice complement to the arcade, laser tag, and bowling.” His bumper car customers range from age 6 to adult, with core riders between 8 and 14 years old. Like Parkway Bowl and Boardwalk’s Westphal, Dalpizzol has attractive lighting features for his bumper cars. “We added a great sound system, LED lighting and nightclub-style dance floor lighting. That really broadens the appeal of the ride for all ages.” He uses social media and cable television as his primary advertising sources for all his attractions, including bumper cars.
Overall, both domestically and internationally, bumper cars make a surefire attraction for a wide range of customers at family entertainment centers and amusement centers, making them indeed a smashing success.