Theme Park Insider

Vote of the Week: Do You Play Carnival Games?

November 21, 2014, 11:42 AM · ORLANDO — We've been in Orlando all week for the annual IAAPA Attractions Expo. The show fills the entire North/South building of the Orange County Convention Center, with more than one million square feet of exhibit space. Companies selling carnival games fill a good chunk of that space, as carnival games provide a steady flow of money to operators of amusement parks, fairs, and family entertainment centers.

Our Derek Potter has written a great guide to winning carnival games, for those of you who play. Maybe by using his advice, you might consider playing, or playing more often.

Carnival games at The Simpsons Ride
You'll find carnival games near The Simpsons Ride at Universal theme parks.

So, for our Vote of the Week, we are asking: Do you play carnival games? We're not talking about the recreation of carnival games in a ride like Toy Story Midway Mania. We're talking the real deal here. Now, you won't find these games in some theme parks, notably the Disney Magic Kingdoms. But Disney does have carnival games (well, its version of them) in Disney California Adventure and Tokyo DisneySea. And other theme park chains offer them in abundance.


What's your favorite carnival game? Tell us in the comments. And, as always, thank you for reading and being part of the Theme Park Insider community!

Replies (13)

November 21, 2014 at 1:46 PM · Very, very rarely. If i do, it usually involves winning a prize for a certain someone, if you know what I mean. ;-)
November 21, 2014 at 2:27 PM · Waste of money even if you win.
November 21, 2014 at 3:14 PM · Can't stand them. Didn't even play them as a kid, at parks, carnivals or fairs.
November 21, 2014 at 4:37 PM · In an amusement park, I very rarely play games (if I do, it's usually a racing game with a group of friends or skeeball), partly because I've already spent quite a bit on admission and partly so I won't have to carry a prize around if I win. At a traveling carnival or county fair, however, there are a few that I usually play (ring toss, basket toss, break the plate) and a number that I'll sometimes play (pretty much any of the toss games and shoot the star). Unfortunately, carnivals have been switching to cashless systems and that makes playing the games a lot less likely since you can't be spontaneous.

Note: There is one exception to the above...if I visit an amusement park with a Fascination Parlor, I always play.

November 21, 2014 at 6:11 PM · I like to play the great, retro shooting gallery in Disneyland's and Magic Kingdom's Frontierland. But those aren't midway games, they are just a lot of entertainment for a dollar.

As for actual carnival games, I know they're not rigged because I always see people leaving a park with those stuffed animals. I'm just not interested in having to carry one of those all day.

November 21, 2014 at 6:21 PM · I always skip them because, like others have commented, they are just a way to separate you from more of your hard-earned money. Having said that, my daughter wanted to try the water-gun balloon-popping game at Super Silly Fun Land in USH this last June. She was excited at first, followed shortly thereafter by disappointment when some kid's dad took over for him in the middle of the game and won. Didn't seem fair to her. At $5 a pop, she felt pretty incensed by it, and rightfully so in my opinion, so we moved on without throwing away any more of our cash.

Loved the Master the Midway article though. Who knows? I may someday be inspired to put some of those tips to good use!

November 21, 2014 at 9:28 PM · I associate carnival games with Fairs and really as being a waste of money as they usually seem to be pricey and a rip off. I'd prefer amusement parks not take up valuable space with them, especially when that space could be used for pretty much ANYTHING else. I'd even prefer additional restrooms over most carnival games.
November 22, 2014 at 9:42 AM · When I think of those I think of the fair. Which I avoid because I think they have gotten too expensive for what you get. I know these are at theme parks but I usually don't even notice them. That being said I love me some skee ball. Lol
November 22, 2014 at 10:48 AM · My guilty pleasure is skeeball. No idea why it hooked me but has been for years. As a former Carney the winning hints are spot on. I don't play because I don't have skills and I am too lazy to practice for a stuffed animal. One rule to keep in mind: bigger the prize the harder to win OR there is a huge build up to get to the level of win. You will pay for that toy many times over to get it.
November 22, 2014 at 11:16 AM · Best (and one of the very few) times I played in a Disney park was at California Adventure. They had just renovated the games, with prizes to match the theme, so for about $10, we won a Bullseye from Toy Story mini pillow and better yet--a Timothy from Dumbo! That's a plush you can rarely, if ever, buy. The trick: it was the morning, so the only two players were both from my family. Guaranteed win! It was like shopping for souvenirs with a game involved. But frankly, if these games left Disney's theme parks, I wouldn't miss them. I can go to the county fair for games.
November 22, 2014 at 11:19 AM · I don't play them because I don't want to win a prize. Once my daughter begged me to let her play once, so I did and she won and we barely fit that stupid stuffed animal in the car for the 3-hour drive home.
November 22, 2014 at 1:48 PM · Like others have already noted, leave the county fair at the County Fair, and keep the theme/amusement parks midway game free.
November 22, 2014 at 5:12 PM · oops, double post! Sorry.

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