Buy Tickets

How Bumper Boats Have Survived and Evolved

Summary: While many attractions from the past have died out or changed beyond recognition, bumper boats have kept up and carved out their own niche in modern family entertainment. From their heyday in the 30s to the modern family fun center incarnation, this is a look at the evolution of Bumper Boats.

Scattered in Americana are gems of the past that never really came to fruition. However, some of these novelties have survived and flourished; evolving into a modern entertainment that still carries weight and significance to this day. One of the most interesting of these attractions in American culture is Bumper Boats.

If you’ve ever tried the more ubiquitous bumper cars, than you know what to expect with a bumper boat ride. An all out war of impact designed crafts smashing into each other while their operators shriek with delight; a brutal little maritime conflict. This excitement is not without a price, however.

Bumper Boats, quite obviously, requires a large channel or pool to accommodate the units. The necessity and restrictions of the battlefield have decreased the amount of Bumper Boat attractions built since the 1930s, the decade that Bumper boats really began to become popular. Massive installations were built at both the Chicago World’s Fair and the New York World’s Fair, exposing masses of fairgoers to Bumper Boat technology.

Despite how excited the earliest patrons were, Bumper Boats are actually a rarity in modern amusement parks and entertainment centers because of the complexities in its design and creation. The pool or trench required is usually manmade, which requires a large investment and regular maintenance.

Bumper Boats declined due to the expensive cost to build and maintain. Roaming fairs stopped investing in them, and the popularity of bumper cars displaced bumper boats as a kind of an obscure novelty in entertainment parks.


That is the story of Bumper Boats. A lost novelty, fallen from grace after initial popularity. After struggling for some years, Bumper Boats live and thrive today at family fun centers.  They have found their niche market in families looking for obscure entertainment, and the technology behind the boats has definitely improved.

While older boats were made of wood and ran on paddles, newer boats run on electric or gas powered motors with large inner tube fenders to protect the participants from impact. The common addition of water cannons on the boat adds just the right amount of firepower to pester an opponent, and enables each boat to become a tandem attack when operated by two patrons.

Check out a family fun center today and try the Bumper Boats for something truly special. An old piece of carnival history, updated to a modern thrill ride. Bumper Boats are an anachronistic reminder of the past and a feat in modern entertainment tech. Try them out today!

Looking for a place to hold your next bumper boat battle? Check out Mountasia Family Fun Center in Fort Worth, TX. Visit our website for information about hours & directions.

Back To Top