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.
Most of our equipment is powered by electricity. Many items such as the funfair rides can’t connect to a standard household supply, and require generators to run them.
Generators tend to run from diesel fuel. There are a handful of smaller ones that run from LPG tanks, and occasionally a petrol powered example. But by and large diesel is the fuel of choice.
Unfortunately when you have generators containing diesel, and quite possibly additional diesel in storage drums, there is the potential for spillage. When diesel spills it spreads, a lot. A couple of litres can cover a wide area depending on the surface type.
To insure against the risks of spillages, we have just added spill clean up kits to all of our generators, and a couple of portable units for use with contracted in suppliers.
A selection of products are contained, starting with plug and dike putty which is designed to harden on contact with fuel to plug the leaks. A selection of absorbent socks to dam fuel from flowing into drains or watercourses. Absorbent granules and pads to soak up the spill. and a spray containing bacteria that converts oil or fuel into CO2 and sugar to clean the traces of the spill up.
Oh and handy plastic gloves and refuse sacks to keep you clean whilst you dispose of everything. And a handy instruction sheet to allow anyone to use the kit.
Oh and just in case you are wondering, about step one referring to Fred Miller. Well, he is one of the team who is possessed by the spirit of Frank Spencer of Some Mothers Do Have Em fame. If we ever have a major diesel spill, Fred will be involved somehow. He will have tripped and pulled a pipe off, or pressed the wrong button or something.
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.
In 1926 Hendrik op het Veld formed Veld Koning Machinefabriek (Veld Koning Machine Factory). This was abbreviated to Vekoma, and another legendary Dutch ride builder was created.
Only inline with many amusement ride manufacturers, it actually wasn’t. Originally it built farm equipment, and equipment for the mining industry.
After the 1956 closure of the Dutch mining industry, the company switched to producing pipework for the petrochemical industry.
1970’s And The Move Into The Entertainment Industry
The US based roller coaster manufacturer Arrow Dynamics contracted Vekoma to build the steel work for their European rides in the 70’s. As demand in Europe increased Vekoma eventually licensed the technology from Arrow and began building rides in their own right with 3 coasters being produced in 1979.
Named the Super Wirbel the first coaster was an inverted double corkscrew installed in Holiday Park, Hassloch Germany. Two of the first riders were the German Formula 1 drivers Rolf Stommelen and Harald Ertl , eventually they produced 7 examples. They went on the produce the Invertigo, Boomerang and Whirlwind coasters.
Alliance With Chance Morgan
In 2006 they formed an alliance with the USA based manufacturer Chance Morgan, with Chance building the steelwork for the coasters. They produced four in total during this period.
Acquisition Of Bussink Wheels Of Excellence
Vekoma acquired the Wheels of Excellence range from Ronald Bussink, whereby Bussink would continue to build the 100 metre wheels and Vekoma would build wheels in the smaller 40-80 metre market. They terminated the agreement with Chance in 2012, but licensed the R60 metre wheel to a new offshoot of chance called Chance American Wheels.
Madhouse And SkyShuttle
Vekoma also manufacture a couple of other attractions. The most curious in the aptly named mad house. Designed to give the riders the illusion of weightlessness and spinning upside down. In actuality, it is an updated version of the ‘Rib Tickler’, a ride that graced British fairgrounds in the 80’s, though never presented as well as the Vekoma version.
The other is the SkyShuttle. Raising riders upto 50 metres into the sky with a gently rotating gondola, the ride allows spectacular views over the full site.
Acquisition By Sensei Technologies
In 2018 Vekoma was acquired by Sansei Technologies a Japanese based company who specialises in both Amusement rides and elevators. The agreement was that Vekoma would continue to be run as a separate entity, so hopefully the brand will continue.
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.
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.
If you have arrived here you are looking for a dodgems ride for your event. A really nice dodgems.
Well we suppose you could want a scruffy one, something that looks like it came from the theme park at Chernobyl. In which case you really need to talk to a dodgy dodgem guy called Vladimir.
If you want the nice type then you can have a package tailored to suit you, even going as far as preparing a bridal car with ribbons and flowers to match if it’s for your wedding, or adding branding for corporate hires.
Your dodgems service will be a great centrepiece for your event, designed around your requirements so you don’t have to worry.
Easily the most popular ride you can have. Ideal for all age groups young and old. Everyone loves to drive a dodgem car, making them perfect for your fun day, or just about any event you can imagine.
You have the choice of a full range of track sizes in both traditional dodgems and ultra modern versions.
Funfair Rides, Fun For All Ages, Children And Adults.
Looking back on our long term records, this is by far our most booked fairground ride. People rent dodgems when they want maximum fun. Smaller children can be accompanied by adults, so its suitable for kids. Teenagers love it, even the older generation find it a fun experience.
Although it has to be said the aim of the ride is to ‘dodge’ the other cars, not crash headlong into each other, hence dodgems, (we know, we know, in the North East they call them bumper cars, but they are a hardy breed ‘up North).
We can advise you on the type and size of bumper cars rides to best suit your venue and requirements. And provide guidance on the best funfair attractions to complement your event.
You need to take into account the ages and requirements of your guests. A well presented ride has music and lighting systems. Creating a fabulous centrepiece. Easily the most popular attractions available.
If you want radioactive rides then you are gonna have to try harder to find Vlad!
This ride works well with other offerings from our stable of entertainment including rides, games and fairground attractions;
You can have us propose a complete package for your needs when a range of fairground attractions are required, be it a company fun day, corporate event, a birthday party or you simply want to hire dodgems for a wedding.
Why not enjoy the event yourself comrade and leave the planning and stress to our team.
Hiring A Ride, What Do You Need To Know?
How much to hire bumper cars near me and dodgems hire price, are regular questions we receive, unfortunately there is no simple answer to fairground ride hire prices, as it depends on where, when and what type. The where and the when are easy to answer, the other questions might need an explanation.
There are basically 2 type of rides available, the traditional type which is supplied totally dismantled and erected piece by piece., he advantage of this being that they can be carried through small gates, over fences, even upstairs, the big disadvantage is the 6-8 hours set up time.
Commonly referred to as a continental track or modern dodgem, the alternative is a set up time of around 3 hours. These are folded up onto a centre trailer for transport tending to be more highly decorated than the traditional model, contain more elaborate lighting systems and higher powered music.
The only real drawback with a modern track is that they have to be driven into position. So it limits the venues they can be used in.
You also need to take into account the track sizes and quantity of cars required. To ensure whichever you choose will fit in your intended venue.
You need to take care when hiring rides like this. The internet is great for finding something you need,but there are plenty of cowboys operators out there, check out our short article on finding the best ride for your money.
Hire funfair bumper cars from us and you will receive details of what you will actually receive. And we definitely don’t have anyone called Vladimir working here.
WHERE CAN I HIRE DODGEMS NEAR ME; All types and sizes of dodgem tracks can be provided anywhere in the U.K.
WHAT IS A BEST A TRADITIONAL OR A MODERN TRACK; The ride experience is identical, so it all comes down to whether you want a modern glitzy look, or something more traditional. Additionally access restrictions may stop the larger continental track being used.
CAN WE USE BUMPER CARS IN THE RAIN; As long as the track come with a top cover to allow use in inclement weather. All of ours do!
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DODGEM CAR HIRE AND BUMPER CAR HIRE; Absolutely nothing, they are two names for the same ride, bumper cars tends to be used more in the North East.
HOW MUCH IS IT TO HIRE DODGEM CARS; It depends on the type of track, where and when you require the ride, expect to pay between £1700 and £2500
I HAVE BEEN OFFERED THEM FOR £1500 WHY SHOULDN’T I HIRE THAT RIDE; Like most things in like, when it seems too good to be true, it usually is!
Someone asked me recently who builds funfair rides. Well, there are a number of long established companies going back in some cases a considerable number of years. Like much of industry, the major manufacturers are European. There were a number of UK based builders making large adult rides, but these are by and large defunct.
The smaller children’s rides market is much healthier. A number of excellent rides are turned out for the home market and occasionally for export. Many of the started as travelling showmen, who perhaps built a ride for themselves, and were then asked to build another for someone else. Most end up building an occasional ride as a sideline, but some turn it into their full time occupation.
Fairtech Fabrications Ltd
One such company is in the hands of a friend of mine, his wife is my wife’s first cousin so there is once again a family connection. Along with his two sons, he has always worked on his own equipment to a high standard, and when recently the number of fairs he attended was cut drastically he looked at leveraging his building prowess into a full time gig.
This post is going to follow the design and build of one of his rides.
Cups And Saucers
The cups and saucers, or teacups as they are sometimes known, isn’t a new ride. Its been one of the staples of the funfair industry over here since I was a teenager, some 35 years or so. So was a good bet for a saleable product.
Like most things now, the ride started on a computer. Initial drawings were made to produce the layout of the steel work and electrics/hydraulics. Once these were satisfactory, more detailed drawings with correct dimensions and material tolerances were produced, enabling construction to begin.
Initial Steel Work
The bulk of the funfair ride construction is box section mild steel. This is fabricated into a number of section for the ride bearing chassis, the moving part of the ride, and the support items such as the light posts and speaker brackets. Parts such as hydraulic valves and rams, electric motors etc are attached to the basic frame.
The basic frame is built up and disassembled a number of times. Things like the decorative centerpiece need to be attached to ensure the mounting holes and suchlike are in the correct places. The aluminium tread plate needs cutting to size and fitting to ensure it all matches. Slew rings to allow the cups to spin have to be in position to ensure they are level and running free and to tolerance.
Hot Dip Galvanising
The ride is pretty much built to a finished standard, except for the decorative sections. It is then stripped down completely and sent to have the full metalwork hot dip galvanised. This is a method of submerging the steel in a molten zinc bath, to apply a protective coating. This can extend the life of the rides structural components to in excess of 50 years. Untreated steel without regular maintenance can start to degrade in less than 5 years. In a marine environment it can be as little as 1 year before rust starts to attack the structure.
Assembling The Finished Ride
Once the galvanising is complete the funfair ride is assembled again. Sometimes it is possible for the heat of the galvanizing process to warp the steel sections, so any that are out of specification. may need to be rebuilt or replaced.
Once the structure is to the builders satisfaction, final assembly can begin. The chassis is assembled, and then the circular frames carrying the cars built up and attached to the chassis. At this point the electric cabling, braking systems and hydraulic systems will be attached.
Over the last few years the Health and Safety Executive have started tightening up on the use of barriers around children’s rides, to meet both this requirement, and with an eye on the European market, Fairtech made the decision to go for the more stringent TUV approval, which is regarded as a must have in many export destinations. This involved additions to the rides such as a barrier to prevent a child being able to walk up and touch a moving part of the ride.
Additionally on the older designs, the cups were not locked in place, smaller children exiting the cup could slip and fall as the cup spun. Fairtech have added an automatic locking system, so once the rides stops, the cups lock in place. They also added some nice touches to the the chequer plate flooring. The ride is finished off with LED lighting to help meet current environmental regulations, and a Bose music system.
Final Funfair Ride Assembled
The final ride with full decoration, music, lighting and automatic gates to allow the riders to access and exit the ride.
Have you ever wondered about when the fair comes town. It suddenly appear on your doorstep, almost overnight in many cases?
The funfair owner just gets up one day and decides to come and set up in the park across from your house right?
Erm, no, not exactly. Most events are planned months in advance. Indeed many fairs follow a regular date, in some cases stretching back hundreds of years. They tend to be the culmination of much planning, regular meetings, inspections and so on.
We were responsible for a few years for the fairground supplied in conjunction with the summer festival at Gainsborough. I had happened across the event whilst passing through the town one summer day. I contacted the organisers about attending with some attractions at the following years event. This was politely declined, and I tried again the following year with a similar result. Out of the blue I received an email asking if I would like to supply a couple of candy floss and Popcorn stalls. So cue a meeting with the relevant people, a deal was agreed and I was asked to supply all of my safety documentation.
A few weeks later, again out of the blue, the organisers asked if I would be interested in supplying a full range of attractions. This meant another meeting and plans being discussed. This proceeded quite well, until it was pointed out that the council couldn’t agree this with us directly, it had to be put out to tender to a minimum of 3 operators.
All 3 of us submitted tenders, and eventually we were notified that we had been successful.
After receiving the green light, we submitted details of the actual line up we proposed along with safety documentation. Then the council Health & Safety team contacted us asking for an onsite meeting. Cue another trip to Gainsborough to talk through their concerns.
Full steam ahead now, or so we thought. Until we were informed that part of the car park could not be occupied. It turns out that a local solicitors needed 24hr access to their building. So this meant a rewrite of the plan, and some modification to the line up we were bringing.
The day before the event, we had to be in Gainsborough to oversee the setting up and siting of rides. We were obviously there for the day of the event. Also the day after to ensure we had cleaned the site up and caused no damage. Oh, and the organisers wanted a debriefing meeting to discuss any issues that had come up.
So you can see, far from just rolling up, we had not only to deal with numerous organisations and individuals at the planning stage. We also had to travel to Gainsborough a number of times, for in the end what was a 1 day event.
When the fair comes to town, its the result of a lot of hard work, before the rides even turn up.