Z and I made our first joint trek of 2008 to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk last weekend. I’ve been unable to afford to renew our season passes yet, so it was a games only day (oh and Z finally got her first deep fried twinkie – she liked it 😯 ). Sometime over the winter semi-closure of the Boardwalk a couple of major changes occurred with their carnival games.
First the good news–
The price of almost all the games has been reduced from $3 per play to $2 per play. As soon as I saw this two thoughts competed to occupy the forefront of my brain-
- Huzzah! We can play more games today!
- Wait a second. Prices never go down.
Turns out, both thoughts were accurate. We were able to (and did) play more games. Although I skipped a few regulars for reasons pointed out below, we did hit up about half the open booths on the midway, including a couple we almost never play because I’m no good at them. Of course, we also brought home several new plush critters to crowd Z’s new bed.
Second the bad news-
Without fail, every single game had (at least) one of two things happen-
- The games got significantly more difficult to win
- The prizes got smaller and/or cheaper
In several cases both of these changes occurred. For example, the classic bushel basket game which I win 90% of the time I play. Traditionally (and up until last year at the Boardwalk) you pay your money ($3 last year) and receive three balls. You win by getting a single ball to remain in the basket. Some variants have smaller prizes which can be traded up to bigger prizes, with each “made” ball earning a small prize. This year the Boardwalk has changed the game in several ways-
- They lowered the price from $3 for 3 balls to $2 for two balls
- They raised the height of the baskets. They’re the same baskets but they now rest higher up on the platform.
- They got all new colored wiffle balls. I don’t think this actually effects game play, but it is a noticable change.
- Last year they had a single prize as described above. They now have small prizes which are tradeable (2-for1) for large prizes.
- They posted a “Game over when you win” sign. What this means is that if you make your first ball in the basket your second ball is now a waste of money. You are not allowed to win two small prizes (tradeable for one large prize) on your single $2 entry fee.
As a result of these changes (and, I must admit the lack of utter cuteness in the critters / prizes) I refused to play my all-time favorite carnival game. Similar changes can be seen at other game booths. The red star dart game used to be $3 for three darts or $5 for six darts. Every dart in a red star won a prize which could be traded up. Now it’s $2 for two darts or four darts for $3. They also increased the top level prize to a full size guitar. Sounds good, right? But in order to get a prize comparable to last year’s “small” you now have to hit with three darts. Hitting one or two darts gets you much smaller prizes then previously offered here. In order to win the full size guitar you have to hit four darts out of four! Needless to say, given my 30% (or so) win rate on this game in the past and the jacked up fees (disguised as price reductions) I didn’t throw any darts in Santa Cruz.
Here’s some proof of the smaller prizes for y’all-
(The “shelf” the first two are sitting on is a step in the ladder visible in the third picture. The steps are roughly 11″ across with the height between steps just under 9″)
That first one is the new small prize for the Chicken Catapult
game. It’s now $2 for three chickens (a $1 price reduction), and it doesn’t have the “game ends with win” rule of the Bushel Baskets game (above), but what used to be the small prize is now the medium prize. As it always takes me at least one (and usually two) chickens to hone in on the pot this seriously increases my personal cost/benefit ratio.The second one (the sequiny whale) is the new 2-4 player prize for the infamous balloon race game
.The larger purple snake in the last picture used to be the 2-4 player prize.The third picture is the new 2-4 player prize for the water race game
. Again, the price is lower, but as can be seen clearly in the last pic the prize is much smaller as well.Finally, the exciting news-
Although Z was saddened to see that the old Skee-ball palace next to Frightwalk has been closed, the new facade on the building had me very intrigued-
Apparently this is going to be something called “Desperadoes” and is being managed by the Games Department. Other than that I have no clue. But if you do, a comment and or link would be much
The Complete Carnival Midway Games Series-