Volcano Bay Water Slide Injures 115 and Paralyzes One Tourist

in Universal Orlando

Volcano Bay

Credit: Universal

Last year, a New York tourist was paralyzed after riding one of Universal Orlando’s Volcano Bay’s water slides. Now, court records from the injured tourist’s lawsuit show an additional 115 people have been injured on that same water slide.

Punga Racers, a fan favorite at Volcano Bay since it opened in 2017, welcomes several Guests throughout the day as they ride on mats down waterslides into a big catch pool. The official description reads:

A favorite among Waturi children, Punga Racers™ send single riders on a body slide down four lanes through underwater sea caves. Among Waturi children, one of the best loved legendary heroes is Punga, the playful son of Tangaroa, god of the sea and Mahuika, goddess of fire.

Volcano Bay
Credit: Universal

According to Orlando Sentinel, some Guests who rode the water slide, Punga Racers, suffered scrapes or nosebleeds, while others suffered more severe injuries, including a concussion or neck whiplash. This was due to the fact that the riders rode head-first on mats down four water slides into the water pools. But, it wasn’t just Guests who were injured as two ride safety testers were also wounded.

Orlando Sentinel reported that Universal spokesman Tom Schroder said in a statement Wednesday, “More than 1.5 million Guests have experienced this ride, with Mr. Bowen’s injury being the single, reportable one. That said, we take every injury seriously and have a safety-first culture that places the safety of our Guests and Team Members above everything else. When there is any injury, we immediately begin an investigation and review.”

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Volcano Bay
Credit: CNN

“Our process is rigorous and detailed, and there are often many opinions as we arrive at a conclusion or work to resolve an issue,” the statement continued. “We are confident in our process and the safety of our rides.”

In July 2019, after riding the waterslide, Mr. Bowen’s neck snapped back violently once he went through a wave of water at the end of the attraction. Unfortunately, this left him paralyzed as he laid face down in the catch pool for a while until his wife and Universal employees rescued him, according to his suit filed in Orange Circuit Court back in October against Universal and Canadian ride manufacturer ProSlide Technology.

The lawsuit seeks “punitive and other damages of more than $15,000”.

Volcano Bay
Credit: Universal

According to transcripts of an April 28 court hearing, Bowen’s attorney David Buckner stated, “He was paralyzed while riding a water slide at Universal’s Volcano Bay in a way that Universal could foresee because during testing for the ride before it opened up, a test rider was injured in the same way, and they decided to open the ride anyway.

ProSlide reports there are documents, which were marked confidential, in Bowen’s lawsuit, which include internal Universal messages that raise several concerns. Two Universal spreadsheets list visitor injuries on the waterslide, Punga Racers, over 13 different months, primarily in 2017 and 2019.

In a June 23 filing, Buckner wrote, “As Universal works to reopen its parks by reassuring the public that the company takes safety seriously, these documents prove otherwise. And that is the real reason Universal is desperate to conceal them.”

Buckner declined to comment on Orlando Sentinel for this story.

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