Bumper Car Craziness

Hi Readers! A question for you:

Q: When is a bumper car NOT a bumper car?

A: When you are no longer allowed to bump it.

Such is the case in England right now, where three amusement parks have banned bumper car bumping, and insist that patrons who climb into the cars drive them slowly and use them only for “dodging” each other.

I’m sure you can (LAWYERS LAWYERS LAWYERS) guess why. And as this Telegraph nkazednfsa
 says: It is probably only a matter of time before the cars come equipped with airbags too. Or maybe a lawyer just rides alongside you. — Lenore

An amusement park (Coney Island) from back when amusing was not a crime.

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51 Responses to Bumper Car Craziness

  1. Dave Higgs-Vis June 13, 2011 at 7:43 am #

    Wow, there goes another bit of childhood that is now off-limits. How long will have amusement parks at all?


  2. Donna June 13, 2011 at 7:50 am #

    What fun. Not!

  3. Janet June 13, 2011 at 7:54 am #

    To be fair, they are called “dodgem cars” in some countries!!! But I was always under the impression that they were designed to deliberately make you bump into other cars… either that, or my driving is very very bad!

  4. Silver Fang June 13, 2011 at 8:27 am #

    I hope everyone ignores that silly rule.

  5. bmj2k June 13, 2011 at 8:51 am #

    Can they really call them amusement parks anymore if they take all the fun out of them? I hope the lawyers will be happy if they all shut down.

  6. Peggy the Primal Parent June 13, 2011 at 9:12 am #

    That’s one great thing about the third world, you don’t have to worry about lawyers. I got into the hugeat bumper car crash in Colombia last year and loved every painful minute of it! The freedom to be free range over there is lovely, albeit a little dangerous.

  7. Uly June 13, 2011 at 9:16 am #

    Hey, you can still bump in the bumper cars on Coney Island! I should know, I was just there Thursday.

  8. Julie June 13, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    Funny thing, when I lived in Romania in 1991 and they got a bumper car setup installed in a vacant lot downtown they were called “Circle Cars” and people actually got mad at me, my dad, and my brothers if we bumped them!! Evidently we were just supposed to pay our money, get in the bumper cars, and drive around in lazy circles till our time was up!!

    I just always thought that that was just because they were unfamiliar with the concept of bumper cars and laughed over it when relating the story to friends in the US…never thought a country familiar with the concept of BUMPER cars would get silly about bumping, though!!

  9. Dolly June 13, 2011 at 10:14 am #

    Yes, I have noticed this in various amusement parks too. Not the no bumping all the way but sometimes they disallow head on bumping and just have everyone drive around in a circle and bumping the backs. That is stupid and not nearly as fun. I remember driving all over willy nilly and having head on collisons which was really fun. I also remember getting stuck in a corner and having everyone attack me in my defenseless position.


  10. Decemberbaby June 13, 2011 at 10:20 am #

    Well, at least there’s still Whirlyball… kind of like Lacrosse played in bumper cars. It’s violent, it’s painful, it’s so much fun!

  11. Mompetition June 13, 2011 at 11:11 am #

    L. O. L.

  12. fighting for my children June 13, 2011 at 11:14 am #

    actually they say that at the PNE in canada but they dont enforce it. Craziness! Bumper cars with no bumping allowed? that is just stupidity. where is all the fun. One day they are gonna bubble wrap all the fun and hide it away.

  13. LRH June 13, 2011 at 11:21 am #

    What part of “bumper cars” are they missing here?

    What next–pools with no water in them? Ferris wheels 6 inches from the ground? Dogs that are de-teethed? Sandboxes with sand?


    Blackberry 8310

  14. WhyMyHairDontGrowNoMore June 13, 2011 at 11:25 am #

    Finally! Those bumper cars are ridiculously dangerous. I am glad they finally made them safer. Now if they can only pay attention to those bicycles before more children die riding them. I don’t understand why they’re not outlawed in favour of tricycles that are much safer. Also, imagine my horror when I learned that only halmets are required, you can ride without elbow pads, knee pads and shinguards. Are they trying to kill our children?

    Childhood is terribly dangerous and should be banned and outlawed. Immediately.

  15. AlanaM June 13, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

    Glad you blogged about this after I sent you the link.

    Great America, our local amusement park, put a giant “island” in the middle of the bumper cars and tells every one to go in the same direction. What is the point of that? I encourage my two boys to drive against the flow and bump as hard as possible. After all, what are they going to do? Take our bumper car licenses away??

  16. Marie June 13, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

    Wait… it’s possible to steer those things well enough to dodge each other? And if you’re dodging, doesn’t that kind of imply there’s some attempt at hitting by the other driver? Don’t have to dodge someone who’s trying to dodge you, after all.

  17. helenquine June 13, 2011 at 2:21 pm #

    I got mild whiplash once from a bumper car ride when I was a teen. There were “No Bumping” signs then too.

  18. Random Gaelicstorm fan June 13, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

    Oh woe the travistry •starts to cry anime tears•
    XD kinda funny that they would do this

  19. Tuppence June 13, 2011 at 3:14 pm #

    Today’s Weltanschauung in a nutshell.

  20. Sander de Regt June 13, 2011 at 5:59 pm #

    I’m probably going to be in the minority here, but I’m under the impression that modern bumper cars drive much much faster than they did when I was a kid. Advancing technology and all that. I took my son (6) in a bumper car recently. (we had to ride together because he couldn’t reach the gas pedal) and head on collisions really, really hurt. I may be getting old, but it sure wasn’t that much fun.

  21. Rachel Banzhaf June 13, 2011 at 6:08 pm #

    During one of those end-of-year amusement trip field trips, I spent about two hours in bumper cars. Almost non-stop, as there was no line and the guy running it eventually stopped making me get out between rounds. I survived. No neck injuries, not even bruising. The only time I managed to injure myself at an amusement park was crashing a go kart. They should put giant bumpers on those things!

  22. Jonas June 13, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

    ok this is just bonkers. How did generations of kids even survive without these health and safety regulations, huh…

    I remember I sprained my wrist once (slightly) on the steering wheel of a bumper car when I deliberately bumped into somebody… it hurt a little bit for a couple of days, but all I kept thinking was “boy that was still fun”… bumper cars are supposed to be a kind of semi-dangerous fun… otherwise, what’s the point of having them in the first place.

    So what’s next… speed limits on go-kart tracks (an activity I enjoy greatly despite being a middle-aged adult)? That’s another activity involving moving vehicles where you sometimes can’t help bumping into other people, and although they’re really a nuisance that’s going to ruin your lap time, in the end, pile-ups on a go-kart track are part of what makes it fun. Or skidding and sliding around narrow corners at top speed, barely avoiding the crash barriers… mark my words, if bumper cars are now deemed too dangerous, it won’t be long before some busybodies are going to suck any and all fun out of go-karts.

    Reminds me of a quote by the unforgotten George Carlin:

    “Take a f***ing chance! Put a little fun in your life! Most Americans are soft and frightened and unimaginative and they don’t realize there’s such a thing as DANGEROUS FUN, and they certainly don’t recognize a good show when they see one.”

  23. Michelle the Uber Haus Frau June 13, 2011 at 7:34 pm #

    ………I cry for the future……

  24. Laura V. June 13, 2011 at 8:05 pm #


  25. Selby June 13, 2011 at 8:28 pm #

    Yesterday’s ambulance chasers are today’s bumper car chasers?

  26. Lollipoplover June 13, 2011 at 8:38 pm #

    I personally love to ride bumper cars with my kids. The amusement park we go to in the summer has little kid ones and big kid ones. The big ones are so much more fun and my youngest begs to go with my oldest son all the time (he does a good job seat belting her and shows good defensive driving skills for a 10 year old).
    As for injuries mentioned by above posters(concussions and sprains on bumper cars), I have had both of these injuries, too. I got a concussion in college when I was hit in the head by a pumpkin (at a fall festival, long story). I broke my wrist while walking the dog as a child. Should we outlaw pumpkins and dog walking?

  27. Lola June 13, 2011 at 9:24 pm #

    To be honest, most of my childhood bumper car riding was all about trying to dodge my crazy brothers and cousins. I don’t know why it was so much fun being crashed all over the place by eight teenage maniacs while I spun hysterically round and round like a top in the middle of the circuit, but somehow I had a blast out of it. And that was before bumper cars came with seatbelts. Mind you, they made sure no-one else bumped my car (God help anyone who did).

  28. helenquine June 13, 2011 at 9:28 pm #

    Lollipoplover – I mentioned getting whiplash. I definitely didn’t mean that’s a good reason for banning bumping!

  29. gap.runner June 13, 2011 at 11:27 pm #

    Last summer my son went to a local fest where they had bumper cars. He and a friend were in one car together. Almost as soon as they got in the car, their other friends bumped into them. My son didn’t have his seat belt on and fell out of the car. He was uninjured and got right back in the car, found the seat belt, and carried on with trying to bump the other cars. Even with that mishap, he had a great time and rode on the bumper cars with his other friends for quite a while.

    Every year at the base where I used to work, there was an annual German-American fest. Bumper cars were one of the main attractions. There was a big difference between Germans and Americans on them. The Germans all went around in a big circle in the same direction and didn’t bump the cars. The Americans would drive in all directions and bump the cars. The German attendants were constantly yelling, “Don’t bump the cars!” One time I was driving my car in the opposite direction and the attendant jumped onto my car, grabbed the wheel, and turned it so that I was going the same way as everyone else. This was back in the early to mid ’90s. I think that the Germans have finally loosened up and realized what the big black bumpers on the cars are for because they now don’t care if people bump the cars. They still don’t want people bumping a car with a small child in it, but others are fair game. Older Germans still want to drive in a unidirectional circle. But younger ones like to bump the cars.

  30. Jennifer Herb June 13, 2011 at 11:41 pm #

    Oh wow, this brings back memories of Knoebel’s Grove Amusement Park in central PA. They had (and still have) the BEST bumper cars ever! I used to ride with my dad when I was little, and he taught me how to really maneuver those things for maximum bumpage! Then when I got old enough to drive myself, they were one of my favorite rides. Love those things, and can’t wait to take my daughter there!

  31. Jennifer June 14, 2011 at 1:16 am #

    This is ridiculous. We have three local amusement parks with bumper cars, and they all let you bump. My kids love them. When we drive I try to be gentler when bumping the cars with the very little kids, but the bumping is the fun part. I think they do try to discourage head-on collisions, which can be pretty painful.

  32. jen June 14, 2011 at 2:41 am #

    I think they should change the name to lame cars.

  33. timkenwest June 14, 2011 at 2:55 am #

    If you don’t like getting bumped in bumper cars, how ’bout NOT GOING ON THEM.

    Worked for me.

    “Lame cars” … hahaha

  34. Rachel June 14, 2011 at 3:13 am #

    Almost all the summer fairs around here have bumper cars with no bumping allowed. The cars also go so slowly that even when you break the rules and get in a head on collision with your wife at full speed, there is hardly any jar at all – not even enough to make your head bobble.

    The only reason those rides exist is because adults like me haven’t yet discovered just how boring they now are – the kids seem to know already, no one under 18 seemed to be expressing any interest in the pathetic things.

  35. sherri June 14, 2011 at 3:23 am #

    I had another mom complain to me that the carousel at our local amusment park went far too fast, and that either they need it to slow down, or stap the children to the horses. My kids have been going on it since they were about two, and have never gone flying off, so I guess we’re pretty fortunate.

  36. Bumper Crop #6 June 14, 2011 at 5:47 am #

    Or maybe a lawyer just rides alongside you

    The lawyers are welcome to ride with me anytime, actually. On the front bumper.

  37. Nik June 14, 2011 at 6:23 am #

    “…in England _right now_” ??

    I can still hear the old guy’s voice like it was yesterday. “Now this time I mean it! One way round, no bumping!” Gulliver’s Kingdom, Derbyshire ~’93 — happy free-range times. Ha ha, we tried to bump him when he entered the rink to remonstrate 🙂

  38. Andy June 14, 2011 at 8:47 am #

    “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers”

    Sigh … if only …

  39. This girl loves to Talk June 14, 2011 at 9:01 am #

    ha. I hopped in my first bumper car with one of my girls just a few years ago. I WAS SO SCARED i was almost crying. I couldnt drive the thing properly (its the opposite of a car – take your foot off for breaking – so I ofcourse kept putting my foot DOWN!! to try and stop us)

    I was petrified and we got hit and jerked so many times the man had to come and stand on our car and help us out. I’ve vowed never to get on another one!! lol lol I swear I got whiplash. It was painful! My daughter on the other hand thought it was hilarious and loved it all of course!

  40. Dolly June 14, 2011 at 10:51 am #

    I actually have been on a carousel that was too fast. I think they slowed it down eventually but we went on a new one at the zoo shortly after it opened. We were standing up next to the horses that our kids were on. The ride took off fast and about threw my Dad and I off of it! I was like “WOAH!” It was fine, but you had better freaking be holding on or you might go flying!

    The thing that pisses me off is normally they don’t charge for kids under 2 or for parents of kids under 2 to ride a carousel together. Because the parent has to help the kid on and make sure they don’t fall off right? So only charge for either the kid or the parent to ride but not both. They are kinda a package deal.

    But when your kids hit 3, they start wanting to make the parent and kid pay to ride. I said “Well if I have to pay then I will just let them ride alone.” Then the old lady gave me a “HOW COULD YOU?!” look. So I was like “So you think I should go on to monitor them?” She said “Yes”. I said “Then why do I have to pay? I am not riding for my enjoyment, I am riding to monitor them and I already paid for them.” She just kept arguing with me so I just paid to shut her up.

    It really made me mad though. Now I just send them on alone and I think they do fine since mine are wimps and want to ride in the chariot for some reason now. But I don’t think they should make both small kids and parents pay to ride if the parent is just going on to watch the kid and especially if the attendant insists you ride with them. What a racket!

  41. kherbert June 14, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

    The people at Houston Zoo Carousal seem to go more by the child”s size than by age. My nephew is 3 but can’t quite climb up on his animal of choice safely. Often the stirrup is about his shoulder height. They tell me I don’t have to pay.

  42. Metanoia June 14, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    When I was only 5 or 6 I remember my dad taking me on the bumper cars, me steering and him working the pedals. It was pretty rough, but heaps of fun. Then when the teenagers were getting on it in the afternoon he had the sense not to let me go on again because it would be too rough for me. When I was a teenager it was so much fun to get in the bumper cars by myself in the evening at the local fair, but there were parents who didn’t extend the same common sense my dad did and then you’d have a 5 year old alone in a car that you’d have to try and avoid or only hit gently while you’re trying to smash into your friends.

  43. Cheryl W June 14, 2011 at 11:56 pm #

    The Santa Cruz Board Walk has two bumper areas. I think the one for older kids is unidirectional, but the one for littler kids is any direction goes. It is set up so that the attendant can turn off everyone at once, and there are lap belts. I think they have a warning about not riding if pregnant, have back issues or some other disorders. So, it is up to the riders to know what they can handle or not. It was lots of fun.

    They also have an awesome carousel. It used to have a mechanical band that you could watch while waiting in line, but they took it out. ;( But the ride is fun, with rings to catch, and yes, lap belts. They do charge everyone regardless of size, but we also only went on one ticket nights, so it was only 79 cents.

  44. EricS June 15, 2011 at 1:35 am #

    What a bunch of dummies. Nuff said.

  45. Brain Burps June 15, 2011 at 2:22 am #

    What if you accidentally bump someone in the “dodger-cars”? Do you lose? Get kicked out?

    This is absolutely ridiculous. Let kids be kids. Bumps (no pun intended) and scrapes are part of growing up.

    An infectious collection of riddles and rhymes with colours, shapes and counting one to ten in five languages, plus accompanying music CD, colouring pages and a seek-and-find character, Bb!

  46. Jill June 15, 2011 at 11:01 pm #

    That’s crazy! 20 years ago (living in Ireland) I had so much fun in the bumping cars! Recently, we took our duaghter to the fair here in Canada, I was shocked at how slow the speed of these cars are nowadays, you quite literally can’t bump them because they’re so SLOW!


  47. oncefallendotcom June 16, 2011 at 9:55 am #

    Having lawyers alongside the bumpers is a GREAT idea! That way, I’ll know where to aim my bumper car >:)

  48. Sky June 18, 2011 at 8:14 am #

    The few parks I’ve seen here in the U.S. allow rear bumping in bumper cars but not head-on bumping. Of course, head on bumping seems to happen anyway. But they do put those medians in now so you kind of have to go in a circle, instead of leaving it completely open to drive willy nilly all over the place.

  49. JP Merzetti June 19, 2011 at 1:01 am #

    The best bumper car ride ever? Start it out pretending you’re in crazed rush hour – and carefully avoid all the kids busy whacking each other silly….until halfway through the ride when one smart kid notices your careful avoidance……..and starts the posse of one or two dozen crazed screaming children with one desire: to whack you good (and the chase is on for the rest of the ride.) Totally addictive – best taken in moderate doses, if possible.
    And they want to take the whack away? Are they nuts? That’s like carefully removing the punchline from a joke…..after which it’s just another worthless piece of crap.


  1. Bumper Car Craziness « FreeRangeKids | Morgan Smash Article Directory - June 13, 2011

    […] Link: Bumper Car Craziness « FreeRangeKids […]

  2. U.K.: “Butlins bans bumping on the bumper cars” - June 13, 2011

    […] The best-known operator of British amusement parks has ordered its staff “to ban anyone found guilty of bumping into each other in the electric cars equipped with huge bumpers. Bemused customers who assume that the ‘no bumping sign’ is in jest are told to drive around slowly in circles rather than crash into anyone else for fear of an injury that could result in the resort being sued.” [Louise Gray, Telegraph via Free-Range Kids] […]