A short case study about our support for the 100% Club scheme.
About 4 or 5 years ago we supplied a single ride, a Carousel to a school in Leeds. This carried on for about three years, until they suddenly expanded the booking and starting reserving multiple rides and catering.
It turns out that they were running a 100% club. Any kid that had a 100% attendance record for that term would be entitled to spend a period of time at the mini funfair they had booked.
Suddenly we started receiving requests from other schools for the exact same thing. Turns out they were all part of an academy group of schools. We now provide attractions regularly to something like 9 different schools. This ranges from the latest thrill rides to things like burger and chips.
Talking to some of the teachers, it seems that they had posted an increase in average attendance at the schools running the scheme.
The Health and Safety team at the schools were pretty fierce at the first events, and had us jumping through hoops. Gradually they seemed to relax a little and adopt an attitude of suggesting slight improvements where necessary, rather than making a big issue of it. I think the fact that we put so much effort into doing things right, coupled with us making changes as soon as they request them, helped a lot.
Have you heard the old wives rhyme, There was an old woman who swallowed a fly, I don’t know why she swallowed a fly, but no one knows where it came from or if its true… well a new one I heard this week was There was an old tree surgeon who swallowed a goldfish, I don’t know why he swallowed a goldfish.
The tree surgeon decided at a fun fair that he would
swallow his girlfirends prize fish that she had just won and wash it down with
half a pint. His girlfriend filmed the incident and then posted the video onto
social media primarily her snapchat story with the caption “He ate my fish”.
The snapchat video was a 14 second clip that showed the tree
surgeon holding the very real and live fish in his palm before he then put it
in his mouth and swallowed the fish and then taking a large swig of his beer.
At the end of the video you can then see him opening his
mouth to show the viewers that the fish has gone and he sticks his tongue out
to prove that he has swallowed the innocent live animal whole.
The video was filmed
in Bridgewater Carnival in Somerset in September. Once the video had been
shared it spread very fast and was then reported to the RSPCA by all the
The Tree Surgeon was named as Josh Coles from Devon. He was ordered to appear at Exeter Magistrates court where he then admitted to a charge of causing unnecessary suffering to a project animal, he initially denied the charge, but changed his plea to guilty to avoid the trial. The magistrate stated that the goldfish would have experienced stress and unnecessary suffering as it was eaten alive with no other outcome than dead.
He was fined £300 with an £85 victim surcharge. Considering the victim is now a deceased goldfish, it does beggar the question of who does the surcharge go to?
There was an old tree surgeon who swallowed a goldfish and then entered denial
Coles tried to deny
that any animal had been harmed and stated that it was just a stunt for social
media and he hadn’t swallowed it. He then claimed that the fish which had been
won at the fair was already half dead.
Fish are a traditional prize that can be won at the fair on many of the different game stalls. The fish usually come with a small plastic fish tank, stones and fish food. All fish that are won at the fairground have been properly looked after in the weeks leading up to the fair coming to town. The favoured prize by many of the kids who visit the fair love winning a pet. It is a horror that a grown adult would then find fun in this by swallowing it.
The outcome is that goldfish are now banned from being given out as prizes at Bridgewater fair. As just handing them out in plastic bags without any checks isn’t an acceptable way to do things. Strangely, having bought fish a number of times for our office aquarium, they have always been handed over in plastic bags without any checks in whether I have a suitable tank or know how to care for them.
Another in our regular series looking at amusement ride builders throughout the world. The Italian company of Zamperla S.p.A. based in Vicenza, Veneto, is a little different to many of the other big names out there. There range not only encompasses the giant roller coasters of many of their competitors. It also included more funfair orientated travelling rides, again matching others in their market, but they also build a range of tiny coin operated rides. The kind you find in a supermarket or shopping center.
Their history dates back over a century, to when, like many ride manufacturers, they were actually operators. Originally travelling an equestrian circus, before becoming one of the first operators of a street cinema in Italy.
Mr. Antonio Zamperla, founder of the company, realised that many of the larger amusement rides, such as the dodgems, could be recreated in smaller versions for the children. Indeed the ‘Mini Scooters’ or bumper cars for kids was one of their early successful lines. Leading to a host of repackaged attractions for the smaller clients visiting fairs.
Of course they have a range of adult rides to complement the children’s attractions.
In 1976, the company arrived in Montreal, before moving to New Jersey to establish a sales office and spare parts warehouse operation.
The company provided some seven, out of the initial 12 rides that were installed in Euro Disney, a feather in the cap by any yardstick.
In 2005 the founder of the company, Mr. Antonio Zamperla, became the first Italian to be inducted into the IAAPA Hall of Fame
The company also boasts an impressive resume in roller coasters. Though they did tend to specialise more in attractions that could be dismantled and travelled. Over the years they have built some 368 coasters and counting.
Started by three brothers Luigi, Ferruccio and Marcello Bertazzon in 1951. They quickly moved into producing dodgem tracks and go-karts.
By 1963 the company was formally established, as Bertazzon 3B (for 3 brothers).
The company now is a major player in the ride production world, with Carousels, dodgems, dark rides, the Matterhorn, flying chairs and rail rides amongst others.
The company is, to use a modern buzz word, vertically integrated. All this means is that they pretty much produce everything they need in house. Some small stuff such as galvanising is done by outside contractors, but pretty much everything else they design and build themselves.
One thing that Bertazzon do seem to stand out for is the breadth of dodgem cars they produce. Not just a couple of different styles with a range of paint jobs, they have some pretty unique stuff available, and seem open to the idea of building custom cars for clients.
They also produce a ‘drifting’ car, which as the name suggests drifts like a rally car when a button is pressed.
Many of the funfairs around the world have a long and storied history. Some started as feast days, other ‘hirings’ where able bodied men presented themselves for potential work.
Today’s post is the world famous Hamburg Dom, which dates from the 11th Century. The whole shebang started when the old Mariendom cathedral was used as a shelter by the local merchants and entertainers. This was a tradition which lasted centuries, until the cathedral was demolished in 1804.
The merchants remained ‘homeless’ until 1893 when a new location was found for them in the Heiligengeistfeld event space in St Pauli district.
The name Dom is the only link to the days in the old Cathedral or ‘Dom’ in German.
Originally a winter market was held on the site. In the 30’s a spring market was added to help ease local merchants through the economic crisis. Post World War 2 a summer market was introduced as well.
Nowadays Hamburg DOM is the largest fair in Northern Germany and the longest running in the country with three seperate 30 day events. Like many modern events the fair is primarily a fun fair with a huge selection of modern rides, games and food outlets, over 200 in all, definitely putting up around the top of the major European events.
The events have a tradition that Wednesday’s are family days, where special rates are on offer for kids. Every Friday night they offer hugh firework displays.
The summer DOM hosts rainbow day, to coincide with Pride week, including a separate parade through the fairground.
Like many European fairs, food is a big part. Hamburg being known for Schmalzkuchen, it’s famous fried bite sized doughnuts, also roast almonds, currywurst and sauerkraut.
Over 60 stalls serving these treats along with the usual fare of coffee, candy floss etc. Oh, and one major difference between the UK and European funfairs, is that they tend to serve beer, mulled wine and other alcoholic beverages.
One of the worlds oldest amusement parks. Tivoli dates from 15 August 1843, when Georg Carstensen first opened the park after being granted permission by the King.
Originally it consisted of exotic and enchanting gardens that amongst other visitors so impressed one Hans Christian Anderson that he was inspired to write the fairytale, the Nightingale.
1844 The Tivoli Boys Guard
Constantly on the lookout for new ideas, Carstensen introduced the Honorary guard. From small beginnings this grew to not only become a cultural icon, but also evolved into a musical education centre for children.
Carstensen sadly only ran the park for five years. Leaving in 1848 when he enlisted to fight in the war against Prussia. This led to him being fired by the Tivoli board citing breach of contract. On his return to Denmark in 1857 he founded a rival park at Alhambra in Frederiksberg in competition with Tivoli. He didn’t actually get to see this one in operation, dying from pneumonia at the age of 44.
1874 The Peacock Theatre
Erected in 1874 the current theatre is the oldest building in the park, and protected by law. A bit like our listed buildings. The theatre has the motto “Shared joy with the people”, engraved above the stage in Chinese letters.
Hans Lumbye, the composer was in charge of the music from the start of the park. A violinist and prolific composer, he put together some 800 pieces of music. Known in some places as the ‘Strauss of the North’, he composed the world famous Champagne Galop. Touring with his orchestra during the Winter months, he sadly died the same year the theatre opened.
The Restaurant WIVEL, later called Wivex became a notorious water hole for a group of infamous First World War profiteers. Later the national broadcaster used it to broadcast dinner concerts. Eventually it closed in the 1960’s.
1914 Tivoli Roller Coasters
Tivoli had a roller coaster in 1842, a seven second thrill ride.
In 1914, the new coaster was opened. Called Rutschebanen (or roller coaster in English), this is still operating today, making it one of the oldest wooden coasters in existence. Up until the installation of moderner cars, it actually had brakemen riding in each car to slow it on turns and downhill.
During World War Two, the park suffered two unfortunate instances of sabotage, when pro Nazi Danes snuck into the park after it closed and planted a number of fire bombs. Extensive damage was caused and the park was closed for two weeks whilst the damage was rectified.
1951 Walt Disney Visits
The first Disneyland was opened in California in 1955. Walt Disney, its founder paid a number of visits to the Tivoli park in 1951. He enjoyed the ambience of the park and was hoping to impart something similar to his own park.
Today the park has in excess of four million visitors per year. Making it the second most visited seasonal amusement park in the world, and the biggest in Scandinavia.
Dodgems are easily one the most popular funfair ride available to hire. There are some absolutely fabulous examples available. Unfortunately there are also some complete cowboys, operating complete garbage. Read our 6 tips on dodgem hire to avoid the junk.
This type is the modern, slightly larger, ofton oblong shaped dodgem track. The ride essentially folds up on itself, and is then raised hydraulically off the floor allowing wheels to be fitted. The main advantage of this type is speed. Generally a smaller crew, can erect a continental dodgem in half the time of the traditional type. They also tend to be more highly decorated, with better sound systems and airbrushed artwork. The main drawback is the fact that they need to be driven into position. They cant be taken over a wall, through a narrow gate or up stairs.
The traditional dodgem on the other hand, dismantles into small sections. It can be carried into almost any venue. The drawback with the ride, is the fact that it can take 6-8 hours to erect, as opposed to 3-4 hours for a continental type. Oh, and you tend to have to pay for all that extra work.
2 Find Out Exactly What You Are Getting
Most rides of either type, need 2 heavy goods vehicles (averaging around 7 m.p.g), a support vehicle. Generator, 4-6 staff. 2 days to set up, operate and dismantle. Insurance, maintenance and general running costs. All legitimate operators have these as fixed, unavoidable expenses. So when someone offers you a dodgem for half the price of everybody else, you should be suspect.
I know of 2 unscrupulous operators with the following deals;
The first would offer you dodgems for around £800. Less than half the going rate. You would book them thinking you are getting a super deal. When the dodgems arrive and erected, you find that they have no lights, no music, no rain cover and 4 dodgem cars. When you query this sorry state of affairs, you are shown a folder with a picture of the £800 dodgems in, which is what you’ve hired. The operator would then turn a page showing a picture of the £1000 dodgems, which is the same ride but with a rain cover added. This process would be repeated a page at a time, until the final picture showed a fully set up dodgems for around the £2200 mark. Your choice at this point is to go ahead with the rubbish you’ve hired. Or pony up another £1400 to get a proper specced set up.
The Second Deal
The second one was even worse. They guy would quote a super low price, but when you wanted to book you have to agree to fork up a £500 non refundable deposit. The day before your event, you are informed that the dodgems, sadly, have broken down, but don’t worry, you are going to be supplied with a simulator ride, or a Miami or similar. When you complain that’s not what you want and ask to cancel, you are told you don’t get your deposit back. Again your choice is to accept what you are offered, or start court proceedings Would you win? Most probably, but would the hassle and stress be worth it?
3 Agree Your Operating Times
This is a must, a standard time slot is around 6 hours opening. They also need to be consecutive hours. We had one client booked us for 6 hours and wanted 3 hours one day, and 3 2 days later. Sorry, but the price quoted wasn’t to cover the ride being tied up for an additional 2 days. You wouldn’t be able to do that when you hired a car, so why would you think you could in this scenario.
4 Agree Set Up Times
Usually dodgems are erected the evening before they are needed, and dismantled straight after the event. Depending on the work load, an operator may agree to leave them in situ when the event finishes and come back the next day. However don’t just presume this. Quite often we can be operating on a saturday night at one venue, and need to be in position at another Sunday morning.
5 Make Sure You Receive All The Safety Docs
Of all our 6 tips on dodgem hire, this one is the most important.
Currently a reputable operator should be able to supply as a minimum;
Public Liability Insurance Certificate Of At Least £5 Million
Daily Check Log Book
Adips Annual Inspection Certificate
The good operators will go farther and supply additional health and safety documentation. With regards to the ADIPS certificate, check it out at ADIPS.co.uk to ensure it is genuine. The advent of the scanner and photo shop means a young kid can alter the date or name on a certificate. Same goes for the insurance.
6 Ask For Testimonials
The best operators in the hire arena tend to specialise in these jobs exclusively. Some operators spend most of their time at traditional funfairs, and the private jobs are an afterthought. That’s not to say some of these aren’t quite good. They are, but the best operators tend to pay more attention to customer service, and operate to a higher standard. By all means ask for contact names at some of the larger corporate clients they have had. A good operator should have no issue with sending you details of jobs they have done.
If after reading our 6 tips on dodgem hire you are still unsure, by all means drop us an email asking for help.
When it comes to rides, you really need to hire funfair dodgems. Nothing comes close for fun, and it is equally suitable for younger kids, as well as grandparents. Over time we have been asked many questions regarding dodgem hire, so we are listing a few of the most common here.
Yes, they are a ride that most everyone loves, from kids through to the elderly, they are a definite hit at weddings.
How big are they?
They range in size from smaller version of the traditional English type track at around 50ft by 50ft. To the larger continental tracks at 75ft by 55ft. There has been an occasional track upto 100ft in length, but these tend to be far too much work for most short events.
How much do they cost?
It is impossible to give a definite answer because it depends on which type of track, where in the UK, when the event is etc. Roughly they will be between £1600 and £2500
How long do they take to set up?
The older build up tracks can be upto around 8 hours. Some of the more modern tracks have been built for high speed set up and can be as little as 3 hours.
Do they come with music.
Yes all of our tracks have music, lights and a top cover for use in the rain.
Can they be set up indoors.
If the access doors are large enough then the continental tracks can be driven into position and set up. If not it may still be possible to use the traditional type track as they are supplied in small sections, however it will increase the set up costs.
Are they safe.
Very, all our rides undergo an annual inspection from an independent engineer, a bit like a cars MOT. This results in it being issued with an ADIPS certificate certifying that it meets relevant safety standards both electrically and mechanically. This can be checked on ADIPS website. Additionally each ride must maintain a daily inspection record for each day it is in operation.
Do they have to have loud music blaring out.
No, of course not. On a traditional fairground, every ride is competing with every other ride. So they are all trying to outdo each other. When you hire for a private event, you can have the music as loud or as quiet as you wish. Or even turned off. Want a personalised play list, no probs, just ask.
These are the most common questions. If you have any additional enquiries, leave a comment and we will add them to the list.
Hire funfair dodgems for the most fun at an event.
I think its perfectly reasonable for anyone to ask ‘Are Fairgrounds Safe’. Modern rides are higher, faster and far more thrilling than the staid ferris wheel and dodgems of yesteryear. But does this make them unsafe?
Add to this a far more comprehensive annual testing regime, and stricter health and safety enforcement and you have a vast improvement in place.
Modern rides not only have the benefit of far better material quality, they also have computerised safety systems to monitor everything, and we have a far better understanding of things like metal fatigue etc.
The Human Factor
There is one final piece of the puzzle though that is much harder to crack. That is the human factor. The vast majority of operators are perfectly professional, with H&S at the front of their minds everytime they operate. Sadly, like any other industry in the UK, if not the world, there are occasional cowboys.
Miss an inspection here, or disable a wind meter so you can keep going when its blowing a bit. 999 times out of a 1000 nothing happens. Its that rare combination of factors that coincide to create an accident that catches them out.
I fly light aircraft for fun. When I started I studied every accident report I could get my hands on, my theory being I would rather learn from someone else’s mistake than my own.
Experts who have made a career investigating accidents in aviation, state that on average there are seven steps that line up before an aircraft has an accident. The pilot may be an unsafe one, but has got away with it in the past because all seven steps haven’t happened together. Its a bit like swiss cheese, all the holes have to line up before things go wrong.
The other major human factor are the customers. No amount of warning signs, safety belts etc are enough to stop some people. They seem infected with the lemming gene, and are determined to remove themselves from the gene pool. Are fairgrounds safe, perhaps should read are people safe to be allowed on a fairground.
When It All Goes Wrong
A long time ago, when I was still a kid, I remember a fatal accident on a fairground we were at. The ride was what we refer to as swinging gyms. Basically they are a large cage that 4 people enter. By rocking the cage backwards and forwards, they build enough momentum up to go over the top as it were.
Now this particular day, a guy decided that he was going to assist his friends from the outside. He climbed the 6ft safety fence around the perimeter of the ride. And ran to push the cage. Sadly, he tripped and fell face down on the platform as the cage was in the air. As it descended it landed on him and crushed him. His family won’t feel that fairgrounds are safe. But was that the fairgrounds fault.
Is that a genuine accident. The ride had been tested and find to be perfectly safe within H&S guidelines. Indeed it was retested immediately after the accident and passed again. It was surrounded by a 6ft tall fence, not something you could just hop over, it took effort to get over it. There were plenty of warning signs about. Yet a young man still managed to put himself in that awful situation. So what more could have been done to stop him?
I regularly see parent with young children on a fairground, who get talking to their friends then allow their kids to wander about unsupervised. You wouldn’t do this in a factory with machinery, or on the edge of a busy road, so please don’t do it on a funfair. Similarly height restrictions on rides are there for a reason, the amount of arguments we have had with parents, because there child is a couple of inches shorter than the safety height and they want them to be allowed on is frightening. Why would you intentionally want to put your child at risk.
How Can You Check
From the point of view of finding out if a ride is safe. All professional rides currently fall under the ADIPS scheme. This is the Amusement Device Inspection Procedure Scheme. Basically it is like an annual MOT for a ride. It covers electrical and mechanical safety. It includes non destructive testing for cracks in the metalwork. Electrical safety checks, checks that barriers and safety devices are fit for purpose.
If you are hiring a ride, ask for the ADIPS paperwork. This should contain an image of the ride in the top right hand corner. Along with a registration number.
You can contact ADIPS via their website to check that a rides test number is valid, and if there are any previous safety related issues.
Similarly any respectable ride operator will have £10 million public liability insurance. If you ask them are fairgrounds safe, they should not take offence and be quite happy to tell you of the steps they take to ensure this.
Perhaps we should look at the Health and Safety Executives own opinion when asked are fairground safe. They have stated in the past that you are far more likely to be injured on the way to the fair, than you are once you get there.
People always say that fairground fish don’t have a long life span. That couldn’t be further from the truth, for a couple called Keith and Mary in Worcester and George the goldfish .
When Keith Allies now 75, won two fish for his then 18 year old girlfriend as a romantic gesture at the local fair naming them George and Fred. Neither knew that this fish they named George would then become Britain’s oldest fish dying just before it turned a ripe 45 (yes that’s right George the goldfish made it to a strong 44 years of age!)
The couple married 5 years later and kept the fish as pets in their family home. George surviving for over four decades outlived two family dogs.
The passing of George the fish
George the goldfish passed away after a month of being ill and struggling to swim around his fish tank. He is set to be buried in the family’s back garden next to their other family fish Fred who had passed away a few years ago aged 42. Mary said that she had rang her daughter Emma in tears to tell her that their family fish had passed away as after all these years he had become part of the family and was adored by everyone.
Mary also added that they didn’t expect the fish to last a week. Never mind 40 years, and after out living the two family dogs they began to think that the fish may live on to outlive some family members.
George the goldfish – oldest in Great Britain
George the goldfish is said to be the oldest in Great Britain and possibly the world. Which means when he passed away he has left a legacy behind. George and Fred have had numerous goldfish tanks in their life span. The largest being three feet wide in order to give them more room for swimming around. They was fed regularly and always made a fuss off by the family.
I reckon the key to a long healthy goldfish life is plenty of exercise swimming around the bowl. A healthy meal of fish food flakes and clean water
It turns out that its quite common for goldfish to have a similar lifespan. An article at Tankarium discusses this further.