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Christiansen Amusements: Adding New Rides and Staying with Tradition
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At Christiansen Amusements, new rides were added in 2018, but the company’s adherence to old fashioned family fun in a world driven by stay-at-home technology hasn’t changed, according to marketing director John McAllen.

McAllen notes that “We added the Cliff Hanger, Dragon Wagon, and a three-abreast merry-go-round that were very popular this year.” The Cliff Hanger, which is meant to simulate the experience of hang gliding was a major hit. The ride positions three people side by side on their stomachs, flying them in a circular method for a soaring experience.

Another change this year was the addition of what McAllen terms spectacular-looking LED lighting. “We replaced all of our lights with LEDs, and the amount of power that we require to run the shows has diminished greatly. While we didn’t receive a state rebate, because we are not located in one single location, it was a big savings for us all the same. We are absolutely glad we did it, but not only because of the savings involved. The brightness is unbelievable; the guests were all commenting on it and how beautiful the lights looked.” The use of LEDs also made the fair more green-friendly by saving power.

He adds that “As far as food goes, we haven’t added anything new, and old favorites such as funnel cakes, corn dogs, and cotton candy are still strong for us,” he relates.

Attendance was good for 2018; “Wherever we had good weather, people were happy to come out and see us and always had a good time.”

Ticket prices were varied this year, depending on location and the amount of rides available at events. McAllen adds “We have books and sheets and wristbands available. Wristbands were between $25 and $35 dollars, tickets were $1.25 a piece, and we had sheets of both 20 and 40 tickets which were discounted.”

To promote the carnival, McAllen says the carnival uses a variety of methods. “We
do posters and flyers that are distributed to local businesses and in neighborhoods. We also use a lot of social media both before and during events.” He explains that “We’ve been playing at some spots for over thirty years, so people know we are coming and anticipate our arrival.”

Christiansen Amusements covers all of Southern California, and appeared at over 40 events in 2018. “We also do a lot of private party rentals outside of that, and provide rental equipment for TV and films. We have our main carnivals and then these other additional rentals going on as well,” McAllen attests. “One of our bigger events this year was the Ventura County Fair.” From Chamber of Commerce events and high school carnivals to large-scale county fairs, Christiansen can provide rides and attractions for all of them.

2018 still isn’t over for Christiansen, McAllen explains. “We operate year ‘round, more or less. Coming up for us, in San Diego’s Balboa Park, we will be at a two-day holiday event called December 9th; in February, we will be doing a Tet Festival in San Diego.”

For Christiansen, games are just as strong as rides in appeal for carnival goers. “Most of our games are winner-every-time, and we don’t book anyone to handle games, everything is owned by the carnival. We added a new game that’s been a big hit for us, Alligator Alley. It’s a game that everyone who plays wins, and it’s easy to do, you catch a plastic alligator,” he says. “We gear our games to families.” There are trailer-based, line games, and center games, for a full line-up of varied play.

In regard to the entire carnival, McAllen says that Christiansen Amusements works hard to “try to blend the traditional carnival experience into today’s times, when home-based experience is so strong versus location-based entertainment, which is what we provide.”

Keeping rides current, is one key to the carnival’s continued success, but old favorites like the California Wave Slide or the Tilt-a-Whirl are also a part of the appeal for carnival goers. However, McAllen attests that price point also plays a role.

He believes that the reason the carnival remains so successful is that “We are affordable. We play around three of the largest amusement parks in Southern California, but we still draw a strong crowd. The amusement parks can be unaffordable for families; for example, taking a family of five to Disneyland could end up being a hardship. We know that cost matters to families, and we do things like Dollar Day promotions, particularly in areas where we feel it will help people, so they’re not in the situation where someone has to tell their children they can’t afford to go on a ride.”

McAllen notes that “Tom and Stacy Brown who own Christiansen Amusements, they have children, they know what it’s like, and they want families to have fun.” The Brown’s took over the business in 2007, after Stacy’s father operated the company for over 40 years. The company itself was established in the 1920s.

Christiansen Amusements has been in business for five generations, and is not only geared to families, it’s a truly a family business, with many employees themselves spanning generations.

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