One of the biggest differences between Tempe Oktoberfest and Munich Oktoberfest is the tents. In Munich, 14 tents line the grounds, each with a separate theme and menu. Most big German beer makers, Paulaner, Löwenbräu, Spaten and Hofbräu, have a specific tent to serve up liter glasses of their brew.
The tents aren't really tents either. Tempe Oktoberfest has tents, portable, temporary and plastic; Munich has theatrical stages, some of which stay year-round.
The Hippodrom isn't even considered a "big tent," but it can hold more than 3,000 revelers ready to climb atop their tables and join the current drinking song being played by the tent band.
On the other hand, with the theme of "Gemuetlichkeit" or relaxation and adorn with hops banners and authentic Bavarian touches, Winzerer Fähndl is a big tent, serving over 8,000 people inside and almost 2,500 outside.
If you plan ahead enough to make a reservation, you can take part in the rowdier tent atmosphere. If not, you can hang out outside in the beer garden. Every tent has one. These spots are first come first serve and can mean squishing in with strangers at a picnic table.
Tempe is like a super scaled-down version of these beer gardens. Nothing really like the big tents exists at Tempe Oktoberfest, although it's not for lack of trying. It's just different.
In Munich, roving bands fill the grounds with traditional Bavarian sounds. Each tent also has a revolving line-up that keeps everyone singing and dancing well into the evening. Seldom are there actual German-style bands at Tempe Oktoberfest, save for the Das Aubachtal Sextett, who are "German rock stars." Most bands were 70's and 80's cover bands; lots of Bon Jovi and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Loads of carnival rides and games are sprinkled throughout the Munich grounds. While drinking copious amounts of beer and getting on something called "The Shocker" doesn't seem like the best idea, plenty of people took part. It's all part of the fun.
Tempe is no different on that front, except there's also a sweet water park.