Top 5 juvenile rides

Posted by Sean Brian

I often get asked by park operators what juvenile amusement park rides are a must.

Carousel or Merry-go-round

The most elegant of all amusement park rides, the carousel dates back to around 500 AD. Drawings from this time period show riders in baskets circling a post. The carousel remains a carnival staple worldwide.

The ride consists of a rotating platform with seats that move up and down. The “seats” are traditionally in the form of rows of wooden horses or other animals mounted on posts, many of which are moved up and down by gears to simulating galloping, to the accompaniment of music.

Amusement Technical usually has at least one carousel or merry-go-round in its used stock portfolio. We are often retained by customers to refurbish carousels particularly updating ride drive systems and have, on occasion, replaced horses with differently themed fibreglass subjects.

Tea Cups

The tea cups is an amusement ride characterised by cup-style spinning vehicles atop a turntable-like floor. Typically, each set of teacups has a centre bearing mounted underneath, similar to a car wheel bearing mounted on a circular floor capable of turning 360°. The circular floor of the cup sits on a larger turntable-like floor. A motor drives this through a starting device; the ride when started begins to spin slowly and build up speed as the operator applies more power. When in operation, the ride operator spins each cup while the turntable spins the entire ride base.

The first spinning tea cup ride at an amusement park was Disneyland’s Mad Tea Party, which was an original ride when Disneyland’s Fantasyland opened in 1955. The ride was based on the chapter entitled “A Mad Tea Party” from Lewis Carroll’s book “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”

There are many versions of the tea cups for sale available as brand new rides with a plethora of used rides for sale at any given time. You need to consider the size you want and capacity. Amusement Technical produces two sizes of tea cups, which can be manufactured to suit a number of themes. Our midi tea cups ride can be seen in all its glory at Dreamland in Margate and our smaller tea cup range with example theming such as Honey Pot Bears has been sold to over 20 parks across the world, most recently to Tayto Park in Dublin.

Helter Skelter

My personal favourite, the helter skelter is an amusement ride with a slide built in a spiral around a high tower. Users climb up inside the tower and slide down the outside, usually on a mat or hessian sack. Typically the ride will be of wooden construction and, in the case of fairground versions, designed to be disassembled to facilitate transportation between sites. The term is primarily (but not exclusively) found in the UK. In the US, the ride is uncommon and may be called by other names, such as a “Skyslide”.

The term “helter-skelter” was first recorded in the UK at Hull Fair in October 1905, taking its name from the much older adverb meaning “in confused, disorderly haste”.

Bumper Cars or Dodgems

Bumper cars (in the US) or dodgems (in other English-speaking countries) is the generic name for a type of flat ride consisting of several miniature electrically powered cars which draw power from the floor and/or ceiling, and which are turned on and off remotely by an operator. Wide rubber bumpers keep things safe — as safe as you can get with no brakes. Still, bumper cars are so popular you’ll find them in just about every theme park, county fair, or carnival you visit.

Like many issues surrounding the invention of fair attractions, the history of bumper cars is still debated. Some claim they were invented by Victor Levand, who worked for General Electric, while others say it was Max and Harold Stoehrer of Massachusetts, according the Showmen’s Museum in Miami. What’s certain is that the Stoehrer brothers were the first to patent their bumper cars and created the Dodgem Company. Their first patent was filed in December 1920.

It’s reputed that Billy Butlin first introduced dodgems to the UK in 1928.

Amusement Technical invariably has multiple sets of dodgems, with or without tracks, in stock of varying sizes (too numerous to mention on our ride sales pages – so contact us if you are interested in purchasing dodgems). We are also always open to renting out dodgems to locations across the UK for monthly fee or on a shared profit basis.

Swing Ride

The swing ride or chair swing ride (sometimes called a swing carousel, wave swinger, yo-yo, Chair-O-Planes or swinger) is a fairground ride that is a variation of the carousel. On the swing ride the chairs are suspended from the rotating top of the carousel. On some versions, particularly on the Wave Swingers, the rotating top of the carousel also tilts for additional variations of motion. It’s thought that swing rides are the earliest form of carousels. They existed in ancient Byzantium and were made with ropes and baskets that spun in circles around centre pole and carried people.

Swing rides were present at the earliest amusement parks. At Idora Park in Oakland, California, in 1908, the ride was called the Flying Swing, but appears to be the same principle.

The Chair-O-Planes premiered in Germany in 1972, designed by Zierer and built by Franz Schwarzkopf, brother of Anton Schwarzkopf. In 1974 the first portable unit debuted under the same partnership.

In the late 2000s, Australian manufacturer Funtime developed the world’s first tower swinger known as the Star Flyer. Mondial followed with their WindSeeker. Zamperla also sell a Vertical Swing.

Remember your target demographic

Whatever rides you choose, always bear in mind your target market – colourful and bold designs are a must and if you have budget for a theme then popular characters, animals or magical elements all go down very well. Pick a theme that will engage a child’s imagination and you won’t go far wrong.

To engage Amusement Technical to provide consultancy on your ride procurement or to discuss rides we have in stock or available made to order, then get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.