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September 25, 2011

Ferris-o-nomics: Where the money you spend at the fair actually goes

Photo by Glen Gower 
I am fascinated by fairs.  By the technology and electronics and engineering, by the clash between family fun and all the dirt and grime of a travelling carnival.  How do those giant rides fold up into those tiny little trailers?  And who paints all those bizarre murals anyways?

And then there's the economics of running a fair.  I was curious about the overhead costs for a fair. If you have a full ferris wheel (24 riders), each paying $5 per ride, how much profit does that actually mean for the ride operator?

Not much, according to Chris Clarke from Classic Amusements.  He shared some financials with me yesterday.  For every dollar you spend on a ticket, these are his costs -- which he says are typical of any amusement ride operator:
  • $0.25 goes the festival or fair as a form of rent payment
  • $0.15 goes to diesel fuel for generator power
  • $0.05 goes to trucking, federal fuel taxes
  • $0.07 goes to TSSA (provincial government inspection)
  • $0.04 goes to Electrical Safety Authority (provincial government inspection)
  • $0.07 goes to MTO for licensing and commercial inspections (more provincial government)
  • $0.10 goes to labor, weekly payroll for operators, truck drivers and mechanics
  • $0.13 goes to insurance (includes general liability, property and auto)
  • $0.04 goes into ride maintenance and upkeep
Leaving 10 cents per dollar in profit.

So, if that full ferris wheel has 24 riders, each paying $5, the operator makes $120, which comes out to about $12 after expenses per full ride. It's a better return than playing a carney game, but not enough to make me run off and join the carnival.

See also: Ottawa Fairs Guide
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1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:35 AM

    yes but how often does that ferris wheel operate in an hour? say 4 or 5 times, leaving you around $50 per hour, not too bad at all. 10 cents on every dollar isn't too bad of a profit either, as grocery stores make about 1 cent per dollar sold. they just make up for it by selling larger quantities. so really it all breaks down to how many people actually end up attending and buying tickets as to how much they really make


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