Maybe it’s the awesome Cat Sticks (AKA shish-kabob’s). Maybe it’s the Fried Twinkies and Oreos. Maybe it’s the impossible games with the bootleg prizes, like Shrock the green ogre, or Meemo the orange fish. Maybe it’s the junkies roaming the fairgrounds, or even better, controlling the rides. I love it. I love every single possible thing about it. And here, in honor of the start of Carnival Season, I give to you my Top Six Carnival Rides of All-Time. Grab your overpriced tickets and wristbands and prepare yourself for excitement – and most likely danger!
NOTE: Some of these rides have different names in different parts of the country, but I’m calling them by the names I know and love them by.
The Berry-Go-Round is more than just a clever play on words. It is, in my opinion, the ultimate “spin” ride. Some may argue that the Tea Cups are better – I disagree, solely on the grounds that they are not called the Berry-Go-Round. You sit in a giant strawberry, and spin the hell out of a metal circle in the middle of the ride, causing the berry to twirl. A word to the wise – this is NOT a good ride to go on drunk, and it is an especially bad idea to stop spinning the wheel in the center mid-ride, and start spinning it in the opposite direction. I’ve been sicker on this than on any other ride I’ve ever be on, and for that, the Berry-Go-Round earns a special place in my heart. Right next to Pogs.
Some call it The Scrambler, some call it The Mixer but all call it Awesome. In the “oldie but goodie” category, The Sizzler can always be counted on for a short line and a scare. Each time your cart flies forward, you wonder if it’s going to break off of the ride and crash into a tree or the pony rides. Equal parts fun and fear, The Sizzler is a classic that no proper carnival should be without.
Don’t confuse this display of greatness with the Space Shuttle – both are similar “boat” rides, but the Pharaoh does NOT go upside down. How does that make it more cool than the rides that DO? You don’t have a 75 pound shoulder harness crushing the shit out of your chest. Upside down doesn’t always equal better, folks. Known in some parts as the Pirate Ship, the Pharaoh’s Fury reigns supreme because A) It has a huge Pharaoh head on each side of the boat (well, sometimes the more cracked out ride constructors sometimes get lazy and do no attach this piece) and B) It has the word “Fury” in the title, which automatically earns the ride adjectives like “sinister” and “bad ASS”. As a bonus, men who go on this ride will enjoy the feeling they get in their groin when sitting in the back row while the Pharaoh reaches its peak.
Scoring an eight out of ten in the “fun” factor and a nine out of ten in the “scared for real” factor, The Crazy Mouse is hard to beat. It’s a cross between the Tea Cups and a crappy rollercoaster, but somehow when they combine The Mouse becomes five times as great as either of those two. Each time your cup makes a sharp turn around the unusually tiny track, you wonder if you’re going to detach from the rails and be flung to your doom. Add the fact that the track looks like a slight breeze could knock the entire thing over, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a ride. It’s usually only found at bigger events, like State Fairs, so it loses a point for not being as accessible as the others – but one ride on this incredibly awesome and possibly fatal monster and you’ll agree – The Mouse is CUH-RAAAAAZEE.
You can have your Himalayas, Alpine Bobs, or Musik Express but the Flying Bobs are the ruler of this roost. Right up there with apple pie, baseball, and funneling beers, the Bobs are what Americana is all about. A staple ride at almost every carnival from sea to shining sea, this contraption always seems to inexplicably have an announcer and/or DJ seeing over the festivities. The Flying Bobs have been a crowd pleaser for a long, long time – a place where kids can listen to looped Top 40 hits and decide whether the danger presented by falling out of this ride is worth the excitement. Whether it’s going the traditional “forwards”, or the ever popular “backwards” mixed in (don’t you hate when they gyp you of backwards because of a long line?) you can be sure that the Bobs is there to rock your socks off.
Truly the most metal of all the amusements – the Zipper is King of Kings amongst carnival rides. No matter where you are, in any state, in any town, the Zipper ALWAYS guarantees you the following three things:
1) The most insane, scary, drunk and high ride operator in the entire fair
2) The largest line, consisting of more middle schoolers smoking cigarettes per capita than anywhere else in the nation
3) The ONLY ride that gives you both a 10 in Fun and a 10 in Likelihood of a Fatal Accident.
The Zipper rules all that comes before it – a 48 foot tall beast, where the only thing preventing you from meeting an untimely demise is a two inch long pin, that’s half an inch in diameter. The ultimate deathtrap, the Zipper rewards those brave enough to look past the squeaking, creaking, and falling of integral pieces with an incredibly intense riding experience that changes every time you go on. What’s that clicking noise? No time to think about it – you’re being hurled head first toward the pavement. Is that a screw that just hit me? Doesn’t matter, because we’re going BACKWARDS, baby.
The Zipper has claimed several lives and has been the cause of many injuries when people fell out of the car. It is worth noting, however, that in the past thirty years, Zipper technology has vastly improved
But are YOU ready to take the chance?
Honorable Mentions Super Slide, Casino, Round-Up
The Super Slide well, there’s not many things better than riding a potato sack down a piece of metal with nothing to prevent you from flying off the side if you hit a bump the wrong way. The Casino doesn’t do much but it gets a nod here for nostalgia purposes – plus I’m pretty sure it’s the ride that the kids in Sandlot threw up on, which makes it even better. And the Round-Up well, it speaks for itself. A true legend, even it does make you dizzy and nauseous.
And so concludes my list of the Six Greatest Carnival Rides. I hope you do the right thing this summer and go to as many fairs as you can. Have a Fried Oreo for me but don’t have more than three. Those will kill you faster than any of these rides will.