A funfair is a small or medium sized traveling fair primarily consisting of amusement rides.
In some places these funfairs are called as ‘carnivals’ and in the Indian subcontinent they are called as ‘melas.’ A fun fair is generally a conglomeration of amusement rides and fun game stalls.
In the countryside a funfair provides a brief interlude from the tough life that comes along with the unforgiving landscape. Simple fairs have different stalls which are sometimes privately owned. The stalls are versatile. While one might sell candy floss the other might boast of a tarot reader, while yet another will have a dart game going.
The merry go round and the giant wheel, the tea cup rides, train rides are probably the most common rides seen at funfairs. There are stalls for hooking rubber ducks from a water trough, the hoople in which a ring is to be thrown to fit neatly around a wooden block, the ball- in-the-bucket games in which the bucket is presented at an angle almost certain to bounce the ball out, archery, air rifles with targets ranging from bulls eyes to playing cards. Most stalls have either games of skill or games of strength.
In some countries the rides in the fairs are still run manually. However, in many places the fairs have a lot of other thrill rides the most common being the Toratora, the Top Spin, the musical carousels which are not manually run.
However, with the requirement that all rides be packed into one or more trailers for travelling, there is a limit to the size of the rides and funfairs struggle to compete with the much larger attractions like the roller coaster seen in amusement parks.
Some fairs may feature smaller roller coasters to entice the teenagers and preteens. Roller coasters typically feature steep drops, sharp curves, and sometimes loop at surprising turns. Fairs would probably have just one kind of roller coaster as opposed to an amusement park which might have many different kinds. Funfairs must book schedules way ahead and it is quite cumbersome to lug multiple units of machinery and staff on the road. They generally travel from one part of the country to another. The relative costs and profitability of such long-distance operations are largely impacted by the petrol prices. When the prices are high small operators are forced to spend long stretches in shopping-mall parking lots, eking out what they can, waiting till they have enough to move on.
Funfairs are more family oriented and as such include a large number of children’s rides especially designed for children from 2-10 years old. Most of these rides are smaller versions of the adult rides and are termed as kiddie rides.
Amusement parks came in much later. The oldest one can be dated back to the year 1895. It was the Paul Boyton’s Water Chutes on Chicago’s South side. This amusement park used rides as its main attraction.
The success of this amusement park led Paul Boyton to open the Coney Island Amusement Park in New York. At Coney Island in addition to the rides there were picnic facilities and a lake as well. Coney Island had three amusement parks along with the famous sideshows. The amusement park was open all 365 days of the year .By the first quarter of the nineteenth century there were close to 1500 amusement parks in the United States.
The amusement parks today are more high tech than their predecessors. They are called Theme Parks now and the forerunner of all those parks was opened by Walt Disney in California in 1955 and is called Disneyland.
Disney did not offer any sideshows, what it offered was five distinct themed areas, providing guests with the fantasy of travel to different lands and times. A one-price- ticket bought at the entrance allowed you access to the park and all the rides within it as opposed to the earlier amusement parks in which entrance was free but one had to pay for the individual rides.
Amusement parks with water resources meant water rides like the log flume, bumper boats, wave pools, roller coasters that went in and out of water as well.
Amusement parks are undoubtedly the new face of family entertainment today. But in many countries fun fairs with their old world charm coexist giving the people the best of both worlds.