Tips for winning carnival games at amusement parks

What's your strategy for winning your favorite carnival game?

From Robert Niles
Posted August 6, 2007 at 2:38 PM
Okay, I get asked this question frequently, but it lies waaaaay outside my area of expertise. In fact, I never play these games. But it strikes me as a good discussion topic.

So... what are your best tips for winning carnival games at theme and amusement parks. Tell us the park, the game, and how you win it.


From Tyler W.
Posted August 6, 2007 at 2:49 PM
Interesting topic. For the basketball you can't really shoot like you're normally shooting, you have to have a very big arch because it bounces right off the rim.

From steve lee
Posted August 6, 2007 at 2:54 PM
Strange game. The only way to win is not to play.

From brian lochridge
Posted August 6, 2007 at 3:12 PM
In the basketball games the key is to bank the shot off the top of the square. The rim is much smaller and a bank gives you a better chance. On the football throw, this sounds backwards, you should back up a few steps. This will give you more room to make a full fluid throw. The other games I stay away from because the degree of difficulty is soooo high. There are ways to beat them all but without having the time to practice you are out of luck.

From Erik Yates
Posted August 6, 2007 at 3:49 PM
The moving water target game is really easy to win at....just play when a bunch of little kids are playing.
I kid.
or do I?
The ball bounce into a basket is really easy as well, you just softly throw underhand and the top of the square.
The milk jug game, simple, aim towards the middle of the two bottom bottles and throw really hard, and hope you hit it dead on....

From Gareth H
Posted August 6, 2007 at 4:21 PM
Oh Erik, so cruel, but I agree, kids are so easy, and aim for the top of the hole.

Basketball games have gotten harder since the balls have got smaller!! I used to win on them all the time but no so much now! :=(

From Lawrence Smith
Posted August 7, 2007 at 4:33 AM
I have won several large stuffed animals at Kings Dominion playing the following games:

Basketball- It might sound crazy but play the 3-point basketball game. The goals are official and not as bouncy as the regular basketball game. If you shoot a good jumper, they fall right in.

Whac-A-Mole- If you look closely, you will see that just about everyone who plays raises their arm up highly after hitting a mole (back to shoulder position). However, keep the hammer as low as possible to hit the moles quickly when they pop out. A good player never lets the hammer raise higher than the moles head.

Quarter Pitch- Pitch the quarter high & try to hit the front edge of the plate. I get two large prizes daily from this one each time I go. I have seen a similar game at several county fairs I have visited where you have to pitch a dime in glasses to win. Just use the same technique & you can pick what glasses you want & win at will.

These are the only ones I play because I win consistenly on these. I never play that one where you have to throw those red rings around the neck of the soda bottles or that one where you have to stand the soda bottle up using a fishing rod. I have never seen anyone win at these two. Has anyone ever won at these?

From Tyler W.
Posted August 7, 2007 at 4:47 AM
I have seen someone win on the ring around the soda bottle thing. They bought a whole bucket of rings and only one once so I guess it was just luck.

From Daniel Binder
Posted August 7, 2007 at 5:33 AM

Google is our friend! : )

That link has pretty much everything...

From Derek Potter
Posted August 7, 2007 at 6:26 AM
Most of my experience with these games has been at either Kings Island or Cedar Point. Aim for the top of the square at the basketball games. The best method for things like the ring toss is to try and throw with as little spin as possible. Milk bottle throwers aim for the very bottom of the stack and throw hard. Most of the other games like the plate break and throwing games are all about touch and if you don't know how to properly throw a football, you most likely aren't going to win that game. I particularly enjoy the plate break, probably just because you break something. That's about all I have. I don't play too many of them anymore, partially because I don't really want to carry around a 6 foot stuffed animal or a ball, and partially because I just have a hard time paying 5 bucks to shoot a ball three times or throw a small bucket of rings. I do still enjoy skeeball or hanging in the arcade and beating up on the kids at a fighting game or helping them through a co-op shooter. I can make a few quarters last a lot longer there.

From Anthony Murphy
Posted August 7, 2007 at 7:54 AM
Pick games that give you the best odds of winning like the ball throw over the muffin tins to try to get it on a colored circle.

My only other advice would be to play a game where there is a winner (races, etc)

From Lawrence Smith
Posted August 7, 2007 at 8:31 PM
Thanks for that link Daniel. That was very useful information. I may even try the ladder climb now after reading that.

From Adrienne McDonald
Posted August 7, 2007 at 10:04 PM
That's why I stay w/the dart/balloon throw. Common sense says aim for the shiny one because those are the ones that tend to be blown up more & more 'tight' to hit, otherwise the dart will just bounce off the 'dull' or non-shiny/limp looking ones. Also, be sure to run your thumb across the point of the dart to make sure it's sharp. Some can be dull & not pop the balloons or if they won't exchange dull darts, throw hard. Me & my cousin went to a local fair, spent like 3 hrs playing the one dart game & cleaned up ROYALLY! We had SO many stuffed animals, she decided after about a week to donate them to the children's hospital for the sick kids who might enjoy a toy but I told her about the germ factor that they may not take them but she did anyway, I never heard whether they took them or not. I eventually gave my away too. I have SO many from receiving as gifts that, although they were SO cute, I didn't REALLY need them. But that's my usual game & stratagy. :).

From Master Phan Le
Posted May 6, 2009 at 3:01 AM
Everyone is giving you insiders of how to beat these games when it is simple as what you've learned in school. What, did all the lessons you've learned regarding physics have been lost somewhere? If not, its easy to simply beat these games. But, it may be luck a small percentage of the times, but its more than likely that you will win with proper physics. I attend the King Dominion and Six Flags in the Virginia area and Maryland area. They always have these games that are supported with all of these large stuff animals. But to win some of these, ask me and I will tell you how to beat them. My most favorite is the quarter toss on a plate. At Paramount Kings Dominion the quarter toss game is as follows; you have to land a quarter on the plate and you win the stuff animal, place twice on it you win the largest stuff animal. It actually stands 8ft tall, which I've just won 5x there. I'll explain later how I got away with it, but for now, in order to win that game, use Newtons law. Newton's First Law (also known as the Law of Inertia) states that an object at rest tends to stay at rest and that an object in uniform motion tends to stay in uniform motion unless acted upon by a net external force. So to say it simple. If you take a quarter and toss it to the ceiling, most logically the quarter will bounce off the ceiling which will drop down, most likely straight down and land directly on the plate. You'll be surprise how many times you will win with only $10 of quarters used. When the stuff animals are worth hundreds if not thousands of dollars more. So if there is any questions, be sure to either post them or visit me at

From Anthony Murphy
Posted May 6, 2009 at 6:56 AM

Anyway, I pick games that have the largest chance of winning something such as a head to head game (water gun game or racing game) or the "muffin tin" game which you have a pretty good chance of winning.

From Derek Potter
Posted May 6, 2009 at 10:27 AM
$10 of quarters for a $3 stuffed animal that you get to carry around all day and will take up half of a room....Personally, in the park I'd rather spend the money on a couple of overpriced drinks.

You do know your physics, but did you pay attention in economics?

I don't play a lot of games at the park because of what they charge to play, but I've been known to shoot basketball or the plate break from time to time. For me, they are usually the ones that offer the best chance.

From Brandon S
Posted May 6, 2009 at 12:15 PM
thousand dollar stuffed animal?

From Jeff M
Posted May 6, 2009 at 12:07 PM
Yes, everyone.... "give us your money!". I'm sad to say from what I know, most if not all games are money makers. Physics??? well yes, if you play things right and aim just so, or add the hypotnuse of the paramesium equal lateral sguared..... :) Let's face it, mostly luck, but if anyone wishes to tell us here differently....pls do so!

For me...I use to rock at the golf putting game. I'd pay five dollars for 3 balls and each and every ball was a winner! Meaning....if I sank all three, I'd win a prize for each ball played. I would usually win at least 2 of the 3 times and have to lug the huge prizes back to the car. two kids now have bedrooms full of stuffed animals and characters of all shapes and forms. I mean they are truely overwelmed in their rooms by these! To my dismay though... BGW took away the golf putting game and now have another game in it's place! Sad, but I guess I've been barred, actually I have been at BGW due to one day's wins!!! They actually told me I won my alotment for the day at this game!

OK...try this, but be carefull!!! Here's a secret I'll let out! Please let me know if this works for anyone??? During the "ring toss" game, play when there are a lot of people and then bye a bucket of rings. When you make your toss, place two rings together. One on top of the other. The larger of the two on top if possible. Make your toss as if your aiming to have the ring land on the bottle. The larger ring on top weights or steadies the lower ring to make it over the bottle top! Catch is....most of these games have cameras recording your play so I have seen others get busted, and some friends of mine have also! They will, especially at BGW print a photo of your foul play and show you it is a non-winner! Keep in mind that not evryone playing can be caught, so the more players shotting at the same time the better. In fact...if you are truly lucky at BGW for instance, you may walk away with a new x-box or wii I have seen.

Bottom line....are you lucky punk? :)

From Eli Katzman
Posted May 6, 2009 at 3:35 PM
I don't usually do carnival games, but when I'm with my friends, we sometimes do them. Like, the best one at SFA-- You get this machine gun of bee-bees. You have a red star about 2 inches wide, and your shooting it from a distance of about 15 feet. You have to have NO PART OF THE RED STAR ON THE WHITE PAPER SHOWING by the time you run out of bullets. It's somewhat cheap for a game like that ($3), so my friends like trying it.

From Derek Potter
Posted May 6, 2009 at 8:36 PM
I like that game too..even if you are a good shot, it's not as easy as it looks. I almost always leave one small red tip of the star somewhere.

From Eli Katzman
Posted May 7, 2009 at 12:46 PM
Yeah, same with my fiends. everytime we go up to the person, we ask "how many times has someone won today?" they always say something like 3 if you ask in the afternoon...

From Scott Verble
Posted May 7, 2009 at 3:13 PM
Jeff, my friend won the ring toss game at IOA by throwing multiple rings at a time, I don't remember if it was two or three rings, but he won a giant spongebob

From Jeff M
Posted May 8, 2009 at 1:20 PM
Scott, good for him! I sure the more rings tossed may offer better chances, or is it physics??? Again, I just can't figure out that paramesium thing.... :)

From Brandon S
Posted May 11, 2009 at 7:59 PM
For me it's useless to play games and have to carry around your prizes the whole day. That's why the only times I will play games is when I'm leaving the park and I barely ever do that.

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