Tokens of fun at the fair

15 April, 2019

Our next stop is:

One of the things we get asked a lot of questions about at the fair is ride tokens. In this post we’ll explain all about them and also share a few fun facts – Did you know Harry Hill’s face featured on our first ever ride token in 2014!

Why do we use ride tokens at the fair?

In 2014 we made the decision to switch from cash to tokens. We wanted to make things quick and easy for both our staff and customers and also wanted to keep a bit of ‘Carters magic’ too. If Disney can have their own dollars then we thought we could have our own currency too!

  • Using tokens instead of cash means that you don’t have to fumble around for the right change and our staff work more efficiently and make sure ride queues are kept to a minimum and you have a better experience. Our fair is very popular with teenagers who are given the freedom to come to the fair on their own – parents can book online and their teens can collect the tokens at the fair.
  • We open late into the night at many of our locations and it’s much safer for a ride operator to have a bag of ride tokens on him than storing cash from customers.
  • Each of the rides are 4, 5 or 6 ride tokens per person which is straightforward and quick to count out – something young children can do themselves, even if they are not yet old enough to recognise all our British coins.

Although we have dates on the tokens, we accept tokens from all of the years so if you have a few spare at the end of your visit, save them for next year!

How do we choose a design?

Part of the fun of Carters is that we do some things because we can, and fairground owner Joby chooses the designs each year. We always have a galloper horse on one side as the galloper started the fair and is a Carters family heirloom. The other side changes each year and has featured Harry Hill, a dodgem car, a Scammell truck and the original founder of the fair, John Carter.

How are they made?

The first set of tokens were from Hoffman mint in America. The second lot we went to our token vending machine company (Suzo Happ) and then they got them made in Europe. We have bought a few hundred thousand tokens over the years to keep it all moving. They are made of 63% copper and 37% zinc.

Different tokens through the years

2014 token design

We had Harry Hill as the first design as he used to religiously visit us at Battersea Park. Joby got to know him when Carters hosted a celebrity night charity some years ago at a London location. Harry was going to design an image himself for this first minting but he was busy doing a stage show so we converted an image of him instead.

2015 token design

In 2015 we chose to have an image of John Carter, Joby’s dad and the founder of Carters Steam fair.  Together with his wife Anna carter, they purchased the Gallopers in 1977 and the fair has grown since then.

2016 token design

In 2016 we used an image of one of our Scammell trucks. These iconic vintage vehicles are still used to transport the rides today.

2017 token design

In 2017 we still had plenty of tokens left from previous years so we didn’t print any more.

2018 token design

In 2018 we chose another of our iconic rides- the dodgems. We spent a lot of time restoring a set of dodgem cars ready for a Hollywood movie in 2018 so it seemed right to celebrate them on the 2019 token.

2019 token design

We are using the 2018 dodgem design this year. We hope to update you all soon on the Hollywood movie that the dodgems have featured in as it premieres at cinemas soon!

How do ride tokens work?

Each ride takes 4, 5 or 6 tokens per person. You can buy tokens one by one, or buy one of our ride bundles. When you buy these in advance before you visit we give you extra free rides too. The bigger the ride bundle you buy, the more free ride passes you get.

As a guide:

  • Most toddler rides cost 4 tokens
  • Most family rides cost 5 tokens
  • Most thrill rides cost 6 tokens
  • Most games cost 5 tokens

You can see more about the ride bundles on the visit page.

When you buy a ride token bundle we give you some free ride passes on top of your tokens.

Read more

The fair in focus, as seen by photographer Adrian Harrison

The fair in focus, as seen by photographer Adrian Harrison

Our vintage rides and beautiful fairground art attract lots of photographers to the fair. In this series we interview and showcase the work of photographers that have visited us and get them to tell us more about how Carters Steam fair inspires them to grab their...

Test your knowledge of fairground words and phrases

Test your knowledge of fairground words and phrases

There are some phrase and words associated with English fun fairs. How many of these do you know about? Read about the meanings and then see how many you can find in our word search. Dodgem Dodgems cars were popular from the 1920s onwards – who could resist the idea...