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Hammond's Worldwide Travelling Theme Park
After my disappointment with the Clapham Common Wristband Theme Park, I was hesitant to go to the Mitcham Common Fun Fair, but I am glad I did, because it is ten times better.
So what made the one at Mitcham so much better?
1. Entry is free 2. The ride/stall attendants smile and are friendly 3. The music brought the fair to life 4. It has the Waltzer 5. It has an arcade 6. The food is unpretentious
Hammond's Worldwide Travelling Theme Park is a family owned business that has been bring fun and excitement to their visitors for a hundred and twenty years. It all started in in 1874 with a coconut shy, and gradually expanded to swing boats, games, confectionery stalls, and children's gallopers. Now they have all sorts of rides for children, families, and adults.
Spotted in the Distance
I must admit, I had trouble finding the fair at first. You would think something like that would be hard to miss, but Mitcham Common is a hundred and eighty-two hectares, and the posters gave no indication of which part it was on. I did eventually find it close to Bidder's Pond.
Entry is free, and once inside you have the choice of either buying tokens or a wristband. A wrist band means that you can travel on all the rides as many times as you like, but does not include any other attractions such as game stalls, arcade games, bouncy castles, etc.
Because rides have height restrictions, prices are determined by height rather than age. £7.99 under 1.2 metres or £8.99 over 1.2 metres. If you are using tokens, rides for young children are 4 tokens each, and rides for big kids are five tokens.
Rides for the little-uns include the Teacup and other round-a-bouts, a tractor-train ride, mini chairplane, fun house, Captain Jack's Ball Pit, and a Spongebob Square Pants bouncy castle and inflatable slide.
My first destination was The Waltzer, which is my favourite theme park ride. I don't like plummeting down roller coasters, but I like spinning round and round. What's great about the Waltzer is that your spinning in two directions at once. Impossible you say? Not so. While the floor rotates in one direction, the carriage on top spins the other way, making you doubly dizzy. What I particularly like is when the ride attendant comes and gives your carriage an extra spin, so you feel like your going to fly out of your seat. It doesn't look that fast, standing and watching, but when your on the ride, it is a whole other story.
Next to the Waltzer was a Mr. Whippy ice cream van. There are also two fast food trucks further down, because after having your stomach churned, and your guts twisted, a big greasy burger is exactly what you want. But I definitely wouldn't want one beforehand, that's for sure. Whoever said you shouldn't eat before swimming got it wrong. The saying should be 'don't eat before swinging.'
Another of my favourite rides is the Viking Ship, which I think I like more for its historic coolness more than anything else. The pendulum is strong because of the weight of the boat, and going backwards can be quite nauseating.
However, I much prefer that to whiplash in a dodgem car. I really don't like these. Last time I drove one, I made my great aunt ill from all the crashing.
If you're not into fast and furious, then you might prefer the game stalls, where you 'win every time'. I don't dispute that, but it is a question of what you win that might leave you feeling a bit downhearted. Still, if you feel up to the challenge, there are plenty of stalls to choose from, all offering different sorts of prizes to lure you in. Toys include Disney and Dreamworks characters, as well as traditional animals.
What do you think you'll be best at? Knocking cans off a shelf, throwing balls in a hoop, hooking ducks with a rod? My eyes kept drifting towards a bear hanging from a vine. I knew there was know chance in winning it, but those store holders have a way of luring you in. I decided to look at it this way, I was paying to play a game of darts, not to win a toy. For £2 you get four darts, which you aim at a cork board. The scoring is different to a usual board:
1-9 - no prize
10 - loser prize hanging from the stall
11-67 - nominal prize (keyring)
After that you can get either a small, medium, or large toy. I can't quite remember what the boundaries were.
I won Leopold the Leopard at the darts stand.
I scored twenty-four, which meant I won a shiny purple tortoise keyring, but the lady said if you play again then you can swap it for a small toy. Well, I'd rather waster £4 on a small toy than £2 on a keyring, so played again, improved my score to 37, and thus was rewarded with Leopold the leopard.
The arcade has slot machines, air hockey, and a dance booth.
Rather put your faith in a machine than a person? Head over to the arcade, where you can try your luck at the slot machines. While some of these are suitable for children, are lot are 18 plus; these include the fruit machines, and some claw machines with cigarettes as prizes. I'm not entirely sure I agree with this, but anyway.
Other attractions at the fair were a bungee trampoline, Blizzard roller coaster, Umbrella-coaster, and Chairplains. Mitcham Common's Fun Fair is open from 10am-9pm, and is great day out, but it only lasts until the 21st April, so you'd better hurry.