Florida Aims to Crack Down on Amusement Parks After ICON Park Tragedy

in Theme Parks

The Wheel at ICON Park

Credit: internationaldriveorlando.com

Following the tragedy that occurred at ICON Park, Florida legislators are aiming to crack down on amusement parks.

Earlier this spring, the theme park world was shocked after 14-year-old Tyre Sampson was released from his seat while riding the Orlando FreeFall at ICON Park and tragically fell to his death.

icon park freefall and the wheel
Credit: ICON Park

Since that point, the attraction has remained closed and there have been numerous protests and petitions signed calling for it to be demolished. Following the incident, ICON Park demanded that SlingShot Group– the company that operated Orlando FreeFall– cease operations of both the FreeFall and the Orlando SlingShot.

In addition, Sampson’s family has since filed a lawsuit claiming negligence and naming more than a dozen defendants. The lawsuit alleges that the seats had been adjusted prior to Sampson boarding, making the ride unsafe.

An investigation into the boy’s death determined the operator of the ride made “manual adjustments” to a pair of seats, including the one the teen sat in at the time of his death. Sampson, who weighed 380 pounds, was also almost 100 pounds over the weight limit for the ride, Fox Orlando reported.

Attractions at ICON Park Orlando
Credit: ICON Park Orlando

Due to the findings of the investigation, Florida legislators introduced a bill on August 17– which would’ve been Sampson’s 15th birthday– dubbed the “Tyre Sampson Law.”

“The things that happened here were out of the ordinary,” State Rep. Geraldine Thompson said. “Seats being adjusted after inspection after a permit – that was out of the ordinary. It was out of the ordinary that the young people who were operating the ride had not been properly trained, that was out of the ordinary. It was out of the ordinary that the signs with regard to height and weight requirements were not posted so that Tyre could make his own decision – that was out of the ordinary.”

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried shared a proposed framework for the bill, which includes not allowing safety sensors to be adjusted beyond maximum manufacturer settings as well as increasing safety signage posting requirements.

Guests at The Wheel at ICON Park
Credit: ICON Park Orlando

Fried did previously share that many of the requirements that are shared in the bill would not apply to Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, Busch Gardens, or other large Florida theme parks.

If the bill passes through legislation and is signed into law, it would go into effect on July 1, 2023.

Inside the Magic will continue to update you on this legislation and much more.

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