Shockwaves were sent through the entire theme park world earlier this year when 14-year-old Tyre Sampson tragically fell from his seat while riding the Orlando FreeFall at ICON Park.
As a result of the tragedy, Sampson’s family filed a lawsuit against more than a dozen plaintiffs alleging negligence on the part of several defendants. It also states that SlingShot Group manipulated safety sensors on a couple of the ride’s harnesses and did not post the attraction’s weight or height limits at its entrance. An operating manual from the Orlando FreeFall states that the maximum rider weight for the attraction was just over 286 pounds. Sampson weighed over 350 pounds.
After the incident, ICON Park demanded that SlingShot Group– the company that operates Orlando FreeFall– cease operations of both the FreeFall and the Orlando SlingShot. Protests have been held outside the attraction pushing for it to be taken down.
Because of the tragedy, many theme park Guests have shared their uncertainty about visiting amusement parks. Whether it be a Disney Park, Universal Studios Florida, or any other theme park across the nation, it seems that there is a group of theme park goers who are a little wary about getting on rides they’ve tabbed to be “dangerous.”
WESH 2 recently posted an in-depth report talking with many ride safety experts and they gave some advice on how to ensure your own safety when boarding an attraction.
“Experts say to make sure ride attendants are verifying your seat restraints are in place. They should be fully closed, but with room enough for you to breathe comfortably. If the attendants appear confused, ask for a supervisor to review the seat restraints,” the report reads.
The report indicates that many ride safety experts are pushing for theme parks to more carefully monitor maximum weight as a way to ensure safety for Guests who board an attraction.
As the investigation is ongoing, the incident has made theme parks across the country and legislators alike to take a hard look at safety measures for Guests. In Tennessee, Dollywood closed its drop tower attraction, Drop Line, out of an abundance of caution because the ride was made by the same manufacturer that constructed Orlando FreeFall.
In addition, many Florida lawmakers are looking to make changes that would affect theme parks across the state, including Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando, Legoland, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and many more.
What do you think of the advice given by theme park ride safety experts? Let us know in the comments!