Launch - First Look - November 2018


Ice Bumper Cars International manufactures and sells the special vehicles to ice rinks.(Credit: Ice Bumper Cars)

Dodgem on Ice

By Keith Miller

What happens when the classic dodgem bumper cars and summer bumper boats are reimagined for winter? Enter the ice bumper car.

Designed to purposely collide with others, ice bumper cars zoom around a traditional ice rink without anyone taking a tumble. The cars resemble a large inner tube, but rather than a hole in the center, there’s a fiberglass seat. 

A lever on each side of the seat allows riders to control their direction.

“When guests see the cars on the rink, the bright colors immediately create interest and curiosity,” says Kent Anders, co-owner and vice president of Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park and Ski Area in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. “Once they are experiencing the ride, it’s nothing but smiles all around! They are unique.”

Ober Gatlinburg added the bumper cars to its ice skating rink in spring 2018 after seeing them at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2017. After visiting Ice Bumper Cars International (IBC) in Steamboat Springs, Colorado—the company that manufactures and sells the vehicles—the facility decided to add the attraction to its ice rink. 

Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park and Ski Area added ice bumper
cars in spring 2018. (Credit: Ober Gatlinburg Ski Area and
Amusement Park)

“Located this far south, our ‘winter/cold’ season can be very short, and we’re not in hockey country either,” Anders explains. “Ice skating rentals drop off tremendously during spring and summer. Bottom line was economics—it was either fill in the rink and call it quits or find another use, and ice bumper cars were the answer!”

A 10-minute ride costs $7, and all guests must be at least 3 years old to ride. Guests under age 7 must ride with an adult, and the weight limit is 300 pounds. The bumper cars glide across the rink in one area, while traditional ice skaters can use another section of ice. The dual zones allow for better capacity.

Mark Farny is the founder of IBC and also works for an ice arena. A few years ago, he found some old and battered amusement park bumper cars at the rink. He restored them to work on the ice, and after seeing their popularity with guests, decided to start IBC and build new cars. IBC now has customers in several locations around the United States and is looking to expand its clientele worldwide. 

“Contrary to an ordinary bumper car, the slippery ice surface provides a very fluid ride. When two cars collide, they spin and slide away from each other,” Farny shares. “The ice bumper cars are extremely intuitive and fun to drive. The experience is especially exciting because many drivers are exposed to ice rinks for the first time ... which opens and expands the target demographic from ice skaters and hockey players.”

IBC currently offers two ice bumper car models with the difference being the length of operating time supported by the onboard batteries. The company recommends a fleet of 16 cars for rinks planning to operate on one-third of a traditional-size hockey rink. Farny says rinks can expect to spend between $90,000 and $100,000 on a fleet of cars and achieve a return on investment in six to eight months.