Hiring A Dodgem For Your Event

Possibly the most popular ride at any event is the Dodgems, or Bumper Cars as they are quite often referred to. I think the public use the latter description based on their idea that they should be crashing headlong into each other, and the ride owners the former based on their desire to see their ride remain intact as long as possible.

When hiring this type of ride for your event there are a few things to keep in mind.

First off they are quite expensive, we receive a steady stream of enquiries along the lines of “A bouncy castle can be hired for twenty five quid, so I guess dodgems must be about a hundred?”, sorry, to travel any distance with a couple of vehicles averaging 6-7 M.P.G. the fuel bill alone can easily mount up to the hundreds, if you want dodgems budget at least £1700 up over.

Now there are some rides out there that are super cheap compared to the industry average, if you are pricing around and someone is offering to undercut everyone else by 30% then you need to start asking questions, begin with “How many actual cars will be on the ride”. One operator we know used to offer dodgems for £1000, when they turned up they came with 4 cars, when you complained,  it would be explained to you, that is the reason it was so cheap, and if you wanted extra cars the price would rise.

The same ride came with no lighting, music or even a top rain cover, they were all optional extras, time you specced up a standard dodgem to match the other quotes you had received you would find that the ride was more expensive than anyone else.

Another good sales pitch we have seen was dodgems starting at £129. When you read the small print, that was for a single car, and the minimum order was 16 cars, so the price was pretty much standard, but it did catch your eye.

There are two main types of dodgems you can hire, traditional and continental. They both give exactly the same experience, the main difference is in appearance, the traditional ride is more of a vintage look that you would remember from being a kid, the continental type is the new super decorated whizz bang lighting effects type of thing. Like I say, the rides the same, just one looks flashier than the other.

The traditional type does have one big advantage, it is supplied entirely dismantled, and can be carried into position, we have operated them on second floors of buildings, even in a raised marquee. The continental type are supplied on a trailer, probably 50ft long weighing perhaps 25 tonnes, and need to be driven into position, so this does limit where they can be used.

Always ask for an image of the actual ride, and ask about lighting, music, cars etc, and you should be able to compare quotes on an even basis.

Remember, “The sweetness of low price, fades long before the bitterness of poor service”

Image of a traditional dodgem track
A traditional English style dodgem track
Image of a modern dodgem ride
Modern Continental Type Dodgem Ride

Educated Idiots

You assume, well we do at least, that when some one reaches a position such as the Dean of a major Oxford university, that they are reasonably intelligent people. Unfortunately a couple of incidents swiftly disabused us of that impression.

The first was a few years back when a close friend was installing a Ferris Wheel ride at an Oxford college. The way these particular rides are erected, is to build up what resembles 2 spoked wheels and then add the seats between the spokes.

On this particular occasion I received a call from said friend telling me that the dean was outraged at the obvious unsafe ride I had sent him and he wanted it removing immediately. I asked my friend to let the Dean cool down and then go and inquire as to the problem. When he came back on the phone he could barely talk for laughing. Seems upon inquiring as to the nature of the problem, the Dean had exploded, stating look at the height of the ride, there is no where to sit, if my students have to cling to the poles as the ride goes round and fall of near the top they could be killed!!!

Luckily my friend managed not to burst out laughing as he explained that the seats were in a pile on the floor and were due to be fitted once the rest of the structure was in place.


BUT, this one pales into insignificance by our next tale of stupidity. We used to run a previous blog a number of years ago. One day we purchased some rubber gremlins and goblins and zombies to decorate a horror themed event. As a joke we took a picture of one of the 6 inch high green goblins and posted it online announcing that as we were having trouble getting reliable staff, we had decided to clone our own and this was the first attempt.

A couple of weeks later we received a call from a headmistress to cancel the candy floss cart she had booked, I inquired as to the reason, and was told;

“Yes, we are a primary school with small children, looking at the new staff you have cloned, I don’t want to be disrespectful but they will frighten our children”

Good grief, I explained that first off it was a joke, secondly cloning humans wasnt possible with current level of technology, and even if it had been it was doubtful if a small business would have the financial resources to do so and that she would receive normal human beings on her job.

The frightening thing is these people are in charge of educating our youngsters.

Health & Safety Indian Style

Much of the UK is kept safe by the Health and Safety Executive, (or as some would have it, much of it is haunted by the Health and Safety Gestapo), personally we are of the opinion that they are a necessary evil, but sometimes there is a distinct lack of common sense.

Anyway just a short clip of a funfair ride being operated in India, wonder how many coronaries this would cause to UK H&SE inspectors.

How To Win At The Funfair Part 4

Lucky Lotto

The lotto, pick tickets, lucky dip, call it what you will is a long established game based purely on luck, or is it?

The principle is easy enough, you pick a number of tickets out of a container, open them and if you have the winning number, (usually any odd number) you win a big prize. A modern variation imported from the continent is the 21 game, where your tickets need to add up to 21 to win, this encourages repeat playing as you can keep your tickets and add to them.

The reality is slightly different, there used to be rogue operators, who never had winning tickets in the pile (very rare nowadays as with social media etc they are quickly marked out as being impossible to win on), but how it works now is that the tickets are stacked into bundles, with a pre selected number of bundles containing the winning tickets, these are then carefully fed to the players to regulate the number of winners and to try and keep the crowd interested by having enough winners come out on a regular basis to look like its easy to win. Once the stall becomes really busy then its a self perpetuating thing, that many tickets are being sold that winners are appearing every couple of minutes. The operator can keep the fever pitch going by surreptitiously slipping winners into the bundles they are starting to hand out.

Even operated this way it is a game purely of luck so there isn’t that much you can do to increase your chances of winning.

If a lotto stall has a large crowd viewing it but few players, then the operator will at some point seed a winning ticket out to try and draw the crowd in, so you probably have a higher chance of winning then, or when the stall is really busy, winners will be coming out more often due to the higher throughput of tickets, so that will slightly increase your chances.

The easiest way to gauge your chances of winning on any funfair stall, is simply to look at the value of the prize, if a prize is worth say £25, then common sense should tell you that the operator has to have more money come in from the players than the prize is worth, otherwise he goes out of business. The old come on of a super sized teddy bear with a sign saying me if you lose should tell you that the game is almost impossible to lose on (It would be illegal to be impossible, so it is made merely “Almost” impossible) and so therefore you are virtually guaranteed to win, trouble is the prize for winning will be a little tiny version of the Teddy bear worth much less.

Liberation Of Auschwitz


“Mankind is capable of such wonderful dreams, but also such terrible nightmares”

I should think it hard for anyone to have missed in the news that today is the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the terrible story of mans inhumanity to man is something that should be ingrained in the consciousness of any civilised person.

Watching news reports on the horrors of the death camps takes the breath away, but standing in the very spot it happened is even more poignant. A few years ago a request from my daughter (who at the time was studying World War 2 and Anne Franks) led to us visiting Amsterdam to see the house that Anne Franks had spent most of the war cooped up in. As we were leaving the house there was a display showing scenes from Auschwitz. My daughter turned and asked if we would be able to go there and see it at first hand.

The next short break we could fit in saw us flying to Krakow for a few days, during which we travelled to Auschwitz and spent a day in the camp. Photos don’t really convey the full horror, when you see a giant room filled with false limbs that had been taken from victims, and realise just how many people were needed to be exterminated to acquire that many false legs, or a room filled with children’s shoes piled to the ceiling it begins to dawn upon you the scale of the slaughter.

The most poignant thing we came across didn’t really sink in until about a week after the trip. We had taken a number of photos, and one of them was a small piece of bent wire stuck in a wooden block, there was no information with it, and it was impossible to tell if it was something the officials had placed there or some visiting individual.  At first I didn’t realise what it was, but suddenly a few days later I realised that it was a mother and father holding the hands of a child between them. The camp guide had mentioned that the platform we had been stood on was where most families would have spent the last moments together as a family.

Corporate Branding Funfair Attractions

With the modern media driven society, corporate branding is more popular than ever, giant companies such as Coca Cola can be found adorning everything from a pencil to the side of a jumbo jet.

It isn’t however a modern thing, pictured below is one of the earliest corporate branding jobs we carried out, a steam wagon painted up in the colours and logo of Thorne’s Toffees of Leeds, once a premier confectionary supplier. This one was carried out in 1926 !

image of a steam wagon painted up by Thornes Toffee of Leeds
Corporate Branded Transport

Yarm Gala 2015

This years Yarm gala is on 21st June, and once again we are supplying a funfair to support the rest of the days events.

We have been supplying the gala since 2008, but Yarm gala has a much longer history than that.

The original Gala was promoted by the The Oddfellows, an influential friendly society organisation of local tradesmen and dates back to before 1884, when at one time it was attended by some 26,000 people!

The popular annual event, was held within the grounds of The Friarage on Whit-Monday and Tuesday each year. The Meynell family, who were the Lords of the Manor, owned The Friarage and the land around it and who generously allowed the use of their land every year.

Eventually it fizzled out, and was revived for a short time in the 1920’s until disappearing once again.

Eventually a new town council decided to re launch the event, and we have been involved since the new gala came into being. Yarm is always a busy town, and usually when we attend Yarm fair in October it was always one of our best events, the gala proved similarly to be quite a well attended do.

The year of the Queens jubilee it was moved to a slightly earlier time in the year, which had us worried but in the event it proved to be even more popular that year.

We shall have a selection of family friendly rides and games there again, if its the latest white knuckle experience you are after then apologies, that’s not what the original brief from the council was, it was to be strictly aimed at families.


Things To Look Out For When Hiring A Dodgems Ride

Over the last few years we have had numerous conversations like the following ;

Potential client “Hello, do you do doughnut cart hire?”

Us “Yes we do, for your area its x amount ”

Potential Client “We have been offered it for half that !”

Us “We suggest you book it then as we cant meet that price ”

Potential Client “We did book it but they let us down !”

We understand that everyone has a budget, but if you went shopping for a Porsche car and the one you wanted was £50,000 and suddenly someone offered you the exact same one for £10,000 you would rightly be suspicious, yet people price around for rides like the dodgems and book one at a price that wont actually cover the operators costs, and then are surprised when it either doesn’t turn up, or what turns up is a load of rubbish.

What To Ask For

There are a few basics items that you need to clarify when booking a dodgem ride.

  • How many cars does it come with
  • Does it have lights and music
  • How big is it
  • Do you have insurance, risk assessments and method statements, ADIPS and maintenance records

How Many Cars Does It Come With?

Most dodgems in the UK have 14-16 cars, this is a good number for a typical sized track, many more and you end up with a situation much like a busy day on the M25, nothing moves. You don’t however want many less, some operators give a stupidly cheap quote and then you end up with perhaps 6 cars.

Does it have lights and music?

Nearly all dodgem rides do, but again, some operators turn up without then attempt to negotiate the price up to add them.

How Big Is It?

Really important, don’t just book a ride and assume it will fit in your venue because they have had a dodgem in the past, sizes vary from 50 ft x 45 ft to around 100 ft x 60 ft so you could get a shock, we service a couple of venues that can only fit a handful of the dodgems available in this country.

Do you have insurance, risk assessments and method statements ADIPS and maintenance records?

Again don’t take it for granted that they do, if a particular job you ask for a price on has everyone quoting £1900 for dodgems, and someone can do it for £1000 then they need to save expenses somewhere, and insurance or maintenance could be the expense they are knocking off.

The name on the insurance certificate should match the name on the ADIPS certificate (ADIPS is a testing scheme for funfair rides, much like a cars annual MOT)

The insurance will quite often be in a different name to the company you have booked the ride from, usually this isn’t a problem, most reputable hire companies work as a giant cooperative and use each others equipment to keep fuel and travel costs low, any company that tells you they can hire you a complete funfair and they own all of the equipment will probably be less than truthful, if they do own all the equipment then all the insurance and ADIPS will be in their name, its an easy way to check, and if they are lying about this, what else are they not being honest about, just something to consider.


You are always welcome to Contact Us  for free no obligation advice, or visit www.funfairgames.net for more information.

picture of a modern dodgem track ride
Modern Continental Dodgem Track
Image of a traditional dodgem track
A traditional English style dodgem track

Make Something Idiot Proof, And I’ll Show You A Better Idiot

Following on from our last post, this one relates a tale of stupidity that would be funny, except for 1 thing, this lady was responsible for educating peoples children!

We have a part time conspirator called Arthur, he looks much like Austin Powers only shorter, or if you are from an older generation think Joe 90. Anyway there is a lot of good natured micky taking back and forth between us, fortunately for us Arthur doesn’t have access to the blog, so the online micky take is all one way.

Anyway, we announced that due to a shortage of reliable staff we intended cloning Arthur, (this was a good 6 or 7 years ago so even animal cloning was a bit sci fi at the time). After online updates for a few weeks the big day arrived and we announced the clone had been created, we accompanied the announcement with a picture of a 12 inch high rubber goblin, with a bright green face, pointed fingers and a giant nose, really it looked like something out of a low budget puppet show. It was accompanied with the explanation that it wasn’t what we had been hoping for, but we would love him like one of the family.

All that summer we would post regular updates on New Arthur, things like picturing him with a stick of candy floss and announcing that he had mastered the art of candy floss making, announcing he was nearly potty trained that sort of thing. He became quite popular really with people emailing to ask when his next story would be if we hadn’t mentioned him for a while.

Anyway, after about 6 months of this, we had a phone call from the headmistress of a school in Hull.

“I am ever so sorry” she said, “But I am going to have to cancel the services we have booked with you”

Oh well, it does happen occasionally, “Can I ask why?”

“Yes”, she replied, “We have been looking at the new staff you have employed, we are only a primary school with young children, and they will be terrified if your staff turn up looking like that!”

Now I wasn’t sure what staff she meant so I asked her.

“Arthur” was the reply

I must admit I thought this was a wind up, but when I checked the details we did indeed have a booking under her name. I explained that human cloning not only had never been done, but it was actually illegal, and even if it wasn’t we didn’t have the billions of pounds available it would need to do it., and that New Arthur was just a running gag.

In the end she agreed not to cancel the booking, but told me in no uncertain terms that she didn’t think the joke was in the slightest bit funny.

Sadly we have met a few people in the education industry like this, a friend “Tommy” refers to them as highly educated idiots, and once exclaimed that they could build a nuclear bomb using only the contents of their fridge and a magnet, but couldn’t be relied upon to cross the road safely.