Kiddie Rides

Imagine stepping back in time to a world of nostalgic wonder, where children’s laughter fills the air and the sound of mechanical horses whirring to life signals the start of an adventure. Welcome to the captivating world of vintage kiddie rides! These whimsical treasures have delighted young and old alike for decades, and their enduring appeal continues to capture hearts today. In this blog post, we will explore the fascinating history, various types, iconic manufacturers, and the world of collecting vintage and antique kiddie rides.

Vintage Kiddie Rides

  • Experience the history and magic of vintage kiddie rides, from coin-operated horse rides to iconic characters like Superman and Bugs Bunny!
  • Collectors are highly excited about these rare items with some going for incredible prices.
  • Explore Rockabilly Auction Company for an exciting auction experience, find or sell your own vintage kiddie ride today!

The History of Kiddie Rides

A family enjoying a kiddie ride

The history of kiddie rides is a thrilling tale of innovation and excitement. From their humble beginnings as coin-operated horse rides in the 1930s, these family rides have come a long way, adapting to the ever-changing tastes and preferences of young riders.

As time marched on, the industry saw a golden age in the 1950s, where a myriad of new designs and technologies emerged, making kiddie rides more engaging and enjoyable than ever before.

Early Beginnings: Coin-Operated Horse Rides

James Hahs, a creative genius, pioneered the coin-operated horse kiddie ride in 1930. This marvelous invention allowed children to experience the thrill of realistic horse riding for just a few cents. The first known example of a coin-operated horse ride was the Hahs Gaited Mechanical Horse, which has since become a symbol of joy for children and parents alike. Early coin-operated horse rides could cost anywhere from $1,000 to $15,000, making them a significant investment for businesses and entertainment venues with horses.

The coin-operated mechanism in these early kiddie rides would activate the ride when a coin was inserted, providing a thrilling experience for young riders. Once the mechanism sprung to life, it would mimic the ride’s theme, providing a captivating and thrilling experience for children and their families.

The Golden Age: Kiddie Rides in the 1950s

A family enjoying a carousel ride

Kiddie rides, particularly family rides, soared in popularity during the 1950s, marking the golden age. The placement of kiddie rides in front of drugstores and grocery stores across the country made them easily accessible to children and their families. During this time, the industry saw incredible changes in design and technology, such as the introduction of electric wheelchairs, the use of tracked rides, and the development of simplistic mechanical and electronic designs. These innovations allowed for more variety and creativity in the kiddie rides of the time.

Major manufacturers of kiddie rides in the 1950s included the Allan Herschell Company and Edwin Hall & Co.. Some exciting kiddie rides from this era include the Chris Craft kiddie boat ride, the Eyerly Roll-o-Plane, the Spillman ride, and the magical reindeer kiddie ride made by Chicago Coin.

Decline and Resurgence

The decline of kiddie rides can be attributed to the rise of exhilarating video games, the lack of stringent safety regulations, and the lack of proper maintenance of rides. However, the industry experienced a resurgence, thanks to the simplicity and appeal of kiddie rides to young children, the switch to renewable energy sources in amusement parks, and the efforts to improve safety and maintenance of rides.

During this resurgence period, kiddie rides underwent exciting changes in their designs to create a more interactive and engaging experience for children. Companies like Zamperla, Jolly Roger, and Sinorides played a significant role in the resurgence of kiddie rides, introducing new designs and technologies to keep these family rides relevant and appealing to children and their parents.

Types of Kiddie Rides

A family riding a coin-operated horse ride

Kiddie rides, designed in a variety of shapes and sizes, aim to stimulate young riders’ imaginations. From magical carousels and thrilling train, plane, and automobile rides to exhilarating space and superhero adventures, the world of kiddie rides offers a diverse array of experiences for children and their families to enjoy.

Some of the most popular types of kiddie rides include Magical Fun House, Flying Elephants, Jokers Wild, Merry Go Round, and Chair Swing, among many others. In addition, you can find rides featuring popular characters and themes such as The Seas With Nemo & Friends, Thomas the Tank Engine, and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. These themed rides add an extra layer of excitement and immersion for young riders.

Carousels: A Classic Favorite

For generations, carousels, a classic favorite, have brought joy and excitement to children and their families in the world of kiddie rides. The colorful animals and the up-and-down motion of the ride create a fun and immersive experience, making carousels a timeless attraction in amusement parks. Some iconic carousel kiddie rides include the SeaGlass Carousel, Balboa Park Carousel, and Carousel at Lighthouse.

Carousels have had a significant impact on the kiddie ride industry, capturing the hearts of visitors worldwide with their timeless appeal and easy installation in amusement parks. Nonetheless, carousels, accounting for a significant percentage of child injuries in amusement parks, can pose a safety risk.

Trains, Planes, and Automobiles

Kiddie rides featuring trains, planes, and automobiles offer children the opportunity to experience different modes of transportation in a fun and exciting way. Some popular train kiddie rides include the Ethan Allen Express, Rio Grande Scenic Railroad, and the Danbury Railway Museum. For plane kiddie rides, there are options like the Skyrace and the Mini Jet. As for automobile kiddie rides, you can find options like the E-Puff Train and the Speedway.

With time, train, plane, and automobile kiddie rides have seen thrilling renovations and updates, evolving significantly. For example:

  • The Miniature Train at Kiddieland was renovated into Der Deitschplatz
  • The Lakeside Amusement Park train has a long and colorful history
  • Manufacturers like Whittaker Bros. have created kiddie rides based on popular characters like Thomas the Train, keeping these kiddie rides engaging and appealing to children over the years.

Thrilling Adventures: Space and Superhero Rides

A family enjoying a variety of kiddie rides

Space and superhero-themed kiddie rides offer young riders the chance to embark on exhilarating adventures with their favorite characters, providing a taste of excitement for future thrill seekers. Some of the most exciting space and superhero rides include:

  • Revenge of Enigma
  • Mr. Freeze: Reverse Blast
  • The Joker’s Jinx
  • The Riddler’s Revenge
  • Batman: La Fuga
  • Superman Kiddie Rides

Additionally, Disney’s Avengers Campus and Universal Orlando Resort offer various superhero-themed rides, providing thrilling experiences for children and their families.

In the late 1990s, with the introduction of characters like Superman and the Mighty Mouse, space and superhero themes gained immense popularity in kiddie rides. These sky-themed rides have continued to evolve over time, featuring rockets, spaceships, and popular comic book characters, creating a more engaging and appealing ride experience for young riders.

Kiddie Rides USA: Top Manufacturers and Brands

Specializing in the sale of antique and vintage kiddie rides, Kiddie Rides USA offers a wide array of rides for children and parents to relish. With a focus on quality and innovation, Kiddie Rides USA has become a leading player in the industry, contributing to the growth and popularity of these family rides.

Some of the most popular brands for kiddie rides in the USA include Kiddie Rides USA, Betson, and Amusements of America, with rides like the Scooby Doo themed kiddie ride making appearances in various locations across the country. As the industry continues to evolve, these companies have played a significant role in shaping the landscape of kiddie rides and creating unforgettable experiences for young riders and their families.

The Big Players: Companies That Shaped the Industry

A family riding a carousel

Several innovative companies have moulded the kiddie rides industry, each contributing to the evolution and expansion of these family rides. Companies like James Otto Haas, the Allan Herschell Company, and Edwin Hall & Co. were pioneers in the industry, introducing new designs and technologies that made kiddie rides more engaging and enjoyable for children.

These companies brought some incredible innovations to the kiddie rides industry, including:

  • Product innovation
  • Strategic collaborations
  • Virtual interactivity in amusement rides
  • Sustainable practices such as solar-powered amusement park innovations

Their impact on the industry is evident in the enduring popularity and appeal of kiddie rides that kids love, for children and their families, who have ridden these attractions for generations.

Iconic Brands: Superman, Bugs Bunny, and More

Iconic brands like Superman and Bugs Bunny have left a lasting impression on the world of kiddie rides. These beloved characters have been incorporated into the design of various rides, providing entertainment and enjoyment for young riders. The first Superman kiddie ride was made by Jolly Roger in the early 2000s, and it quickly gained popularity among children and their parents.

The popularity of these iconic brands in kiddie rides can be attributed to their timeless appeal and their ability to resonate with children. As the industry continues to evolve, we can expect to see more characters and themes being incorporated into the design of kiddie rides, offering new and exciting experiences for young riders and their families.

Collecting Vintage and Antique Kiddie Rides

A family riding a train, plane, and automobile

For collectors, the world of vintage and antique kiddie rides is a gold mine, with each ride presenting a unique historical snippet and a nostalgic peek into the past. Collecting these rides can be a rewarding hobby, as they are often rare and highly sought-after by enthusiasts. Determining the age, condition, and value of a vintage kiddie ride is an exciting challenge, requiring keen attention to detail and a deep understanding of the history and production dates of specific ride models.

To restore an antique kiddie ride while maintaining its value, collectors must take care to preserve the original artwork, decals, and features, ensuring that the restoration is done correctly and in a way that maintains its authenticity. The value of a vintage kiddie ride can be influenced by factors such as:

  • Rarity
  • Condition
  • Age
  • Demand among collectors

The Value of Rarity: Why Collectors Love Vintage Kiddie Rides

Due to their rarity and nostalgic allure, vintage kiddie rides are highly coveted among collectors. These coin-operated rides evoke childhood memories and are increasingly being displayed in respected collections. The value of these rides can vary greatly, with notable sales including a 1950s Chris-Craft Woody Speed Boat Ride sold for an incredible $46,000 and a Vintage Horse Race kiddie ride sold at auction.

The value of a vintage kiddie ride is determined by factors such as the cost of refurbishment, rarity, demand, and the condition of the ride. To assess the value of a ride, collectors can research similar rides that have been sold in the past and consider factors such as their rarity, condition, age, and demand among collectors.

Where to Find and Buy Vintage Kiddie Rides

For budding or expanding vintage kiddie ride collectors, numerous sources are available to discover and purchase these gems. Online platforms such as eBay, Alibaba,, and offer a wide selection of vintage kiddie rides, allowing collectors to browse and purchase rides from the comfort of their homes. In addition, physical stores and flea markets can be a great source for finding unique and rare rides.

To ensure the authenticity of a vintage kiddie ride, collectors should:

  • Carefully inspect the ride for any damage, wear, or missing parts
  • Check its functionality
  • Research the history and production dates of the specific kiddie ride model to provide insights into its age and help determine if the ride is a genuine vintage piece.

Rockabilly Auction Company: Your Source for Vintage Kiddie Rides

Rockabilly Auction with people looking at antiques and collectibles

If you aim to buy or sell vintage kiddie rides, collectors can consider the Rockabilly Auction Company as a reliable resource. Located in Hartwell, Georgia, this full-service auction house specializes in the sale of antique and vintage kiddie rides from the 1950s and earlier. With a focus on quality and authenticity, Rockabilly Auction Company is a trusted name in the world of vintage kiddie rides.

Our team of experts carefully inspects each ride before auction, ensuring that the items for sale are genuine and in good condition. To auction a vintage kiddie ride with Rockabilly Auction Company, collectors can visit our website for information on upcoming auctions or call us at (770) 652-8075 to learn more.

About Rockabilly Auction Company

Owned and run by Kurt and Rhonda Kilgore, Rockabilly Auction Company is a comprehensive auction house. With a passion for vintage advertising, Americana, and estate/collection liquidations, the company has gained a reputation for offering a diverse range of items, including:

Rockabilly Auction Company conducts quarterly Americana auctions, showcasing an array of vintage advertising, movie props, and country store memorabilia.

Located in Hartwell, Georgia, Rockabilly Auction Company is dedicated to providing a professional and enjoyable auction experience for both buyers and sellers. Our commitment to quality and authenticity ensures that collectors can trust the items they purchase at auction, making it an ideal destination for those looking to buy or sell vintage kiddie rides.

How to Auction Your Vintage Kiddie Ride

If you wish to auction your vintage kiddie ride with Rockabilly Auction Company, begin by exploring our website to check their forthcoming auctions and see if any antique kiddie rides are slated for auction. You can also contact our company directly in Hartwell, Georgia, at (770) 652-8075 for more information on how to consign your ride.

When auctioning your vintage kiddie ride, it is essential to consider factors that can influence the auction price, such as the rarity and condition of the ride, the demand from collectors, and any unique features or design elements. By understanding these factors and working with a reputable auction house like Rockabilly Auction Company, you can ensure that your vintage kiddie ride will find a new home with a collector who values its history and charm.


The enchanting world of vintage kiddie rides offers a nostalgic glimpse into the past, revealing a rich history of innovation, creativity, and timeless appeal. From coin-operated horse rides to thrilling space adventures, these family rides have delighted children and their parents for generations. As the industry continues to evolve, collectors can look forward to discovering new and exciting rides that capture the spirit of these cherished treasures.

Whether you’re a seasoned collector or just starting your journey into the world of vintage kiddie rides, we hope this blog post has provided you with valuable insights and inspiration. As you explore this fascinating realm, may you find the joy and excitement that these rides have brought to children and their families for decades.