Finally, the ride featured a cheery little sea shanty that repeated every 15 seconds, like Patrick Swayze's singing scene in Ghost. Listening to it for an entire day was the soundtrack of madness. I will remember it until the day I die. So if you're riding bumper boats and the employees are a little rude to you, try not to take it personally. It's just that they're soaked to the bone and their minds are fraying into tattered wrecks of what they once were.
The Games Are Even More Rigged Than You Realize
Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images
Telling you that amusement park games are rigged should be about as shocking as telling you that the KGB helped the CIA fake the moon landing to intimidate the Martians. Everyone knows. But what might surprise you is just how rigged they are. Luckily, I learned enough to teach you how to beat the system and win a gigantic plush Rasta-banana that you'll stuff in a corner of the basement for six months before accidentally setting it on fire when your stoned ass decides it would be hilarious to pass it a joint. So you're welcome.
"It smells like real bananas ... and racism!"
For example, anyone who's played carnival basketball knows that the hoops are small and the balls are overinflated, but that's just the start. The backboard will be slightly angled to make it useless, the hoops are often oval-shaped, and all that netting in the background? It's there to throw off your depth perception. The best way to shoot the ball is to arc it in underhanded, but that makes you look like a doofus. And you don't want to look dumb in front of your adoring child or dynamite date that you're trying to win a prize for, which I assume is the only reason people play these games.
The test of strength? You can swing the hammer like you're cosplaying as Thor, but unless you hit the sweet spot, you're probably going to fail. Usually that's the dead center of the target, but not always -- at my park, you had the best luck if you hit the very bottom. Having an old-timey mustache probably helps too, but the trick is to realize that it's more about accuracy than raw strength. You know, just like you wouldn't expect from a game called a "test of strength."
A little known secret: You can also win by threatening the employee with the hammer.
Balloon darts? The darts are dull and the balloons are underinflated. Aim for the biggest balloon and arc your shot so the dart drops down with all its weight. It's the sort of strategy that would be perfect for getting your ass kicked in an actual game of darts, but it's what you need to do if you want to walk away with a plush Stewie Griffin. Because then, and only then, will people respect you.
How about water gun races? It's more about the quality of the gun and target than your accuracy, because those things get less maintenance than a sex offender's facial hair. Watch a few games and see if one gun is winning a lot. Then shove people out of the way to grab it. Don't be afraid to knock a few kids around -- it's not your fault they don't realize that's a key part of the game.
And trust me, you don't even want me to start with this bullshit.
Winning a carnival game is like making love: It takes finesse, you regret paying for it five minutes after you're done, and you go home with something you didn't have before. What's important is that it was a learning experience.
You can read more from Mark, including an article about his time working a carnival burlesque show, at his website.
Always on the go but can't get enough of Cracked? We have an Android app and iOS reader for you to pick from so you never miss another article.
Do you have a pop culture muse? Channel it in our T-shirt latest contest and you could win $500.