Our modern High Thrill Rides with their insane motions, while being a ton of fun, tend to make you forget the much simpler roots of the amusement industry. For over a decade now the Historic Carnival in Bochum tries to bring back those simpler times, and it is a really unique experience, even the location is something special. The city of Bochum is located right in the middle of the Ruhr Area in Germany, one of the largest urban areas within European Union. It was and still is home to many large factories and surface coal mines. Many of the old factory bulding’s that where abandoned by companies in need of bigger facilities where remodeled for other purposes, one in Bochum was converted to a multi-purpose event location in the middle of a public park. When approaching it you might confuse it for what it once was, a factory, but when entering the building during the Historic Carnival it is easy to forget what year it is.
I visited the Carnival on it’s first Saturday, this meant that it was actually dubbed as the Steampunk Carnival, the difference being that they had a couple of Steampunk Themed walking act’s, sometimes even using driving contraptions, and they had a couple of vendors there selling stuff that fit’s the overall Steampunk theme. Many Guests also used the opportunity to also dress up in Steampunk. These Costumes fitted the mix of the Industrial Setting and Historic Rides really well, almost as if they where made for each other. But I was there mainly for the rides, everything else on top was just a really nice Bonus for me. But what rides can you expect to see, and ride, at a historical carnival anyway?
For the most part you get rides with a design that is still used in a modernized form to this day. Your Bumper Cars, Horse Carousel, both a Haunted- and a Fun House Attraction, you get the idea. Of cause everything is a bit simpler and somewhat slower, but that doesn’t mean that it is less fun. The Bumper Cars, despite operating with cars that are from the 60’s and 70’s, still pack in the same fun and speed you know from modern versions of the ride. However instead of using generic looking cars in all sparkling colors of the rainbow, the classic version features vehicles modeled after actual cars mostly from BMW and Mercedes, with a handful of Opel and Cadillac-ish looking ones thrown in for good measure, add a wooden ride building and you have Bumper Cars that stick out from the crowd.
While these Bumper Cars manage to still be comparable to the modern thing, the Haunted House is not. For starters while loading the Ride Vehicles, each seating 2 People, the Operator has to manually hold a brake with his foot and he gives the vehicle a slight push to get it moving again. The ride experience itself features a couple of static figures, flashing lights and some sound effects that tried their best to be loud. No animatronics, no complicated light setups, no sudden screams, no live actors, just a few, almost adorable looking, hand crafted monsters that probably couldn’t even scare most children by today’s standards. I really loved this Haunted House for it’s simplicity.
My favorite, and from the looks of it most popular in general, was a little carousel type of Ride with a name that roughly translates to “Drive to the Paradise”. Most comparable modern ride would be something like Polka Marina at the Efteling, but this Old School one has a much smaller diameter with way steeper hills. It was originally build in 1939 and sat abandoned in a barn for several years. It was then painstakingly restored to it’s former glory with an attention to detail that really shows how much love went into it, i.e. they decided to use a salt water basin as a adjustable resistor for the motor. But what really sold this one to me was that the guy operating the ride even played a short piece of music on his Saxophone for almost every ride cycle, the music they played over speakers was era appropriate, something not all rides at the event managed to do, it had a charming light package and they even had a smoke machine that blew steam out of a chimney above the cashier booth. The ride itself was fun, fast paced and even had a very small hint of airtime.
The Historical Carnival is usually open on Weekends from early to mid February until early to mid March and has a pay once for the entry, ride as much as you want model. As I said earlier you can’t expect any true Thrill Machines or even Roller Coasters, it’s a jump back in time that let’s you forget the modern, fast paced life for a few hours with a very unique feel to it. If you ever have the chance to visit the event, I highly recommend doing it, especially in the evening, the whole thing just looks that much more alive when all the lights can shine. But don’t expect to spend an entire day here, a few hours in plenty enough.