Orlando Attraction to be Torn Down Following Death of 14-Year-Old

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Credit: ICON Park

A highly-controversial theme park ride will officially be shutting down.

Family arriving at ICON Park Orlando
Credit: ICON Park Orlando

On Thursday, March 24, 2022, 14-year-old Tyre Sampson, a high school football player from the St. Louis, Missouri area, died at Orlando, Florida’s ICON Park after falling from the Orlando FreeFall — a 450-foot-tall tower that opened last fall.

This horrible incident has made theme parks across the country, and legislators alike take a hard look at their own 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.

icon park freefall and the wheel
Credit: ICON Park

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.

The ride opened alongside several other attractions, the Orlando SlingShot, the Orlando StarFlyer, and The Wheel. The SlingShot, StarFlyer, and FreeFall are three of the world’s tallest, free-standing thrill attractions. At the time they opened, an ICON Park press release noted:

“ICON Park is devoted to creating unforgettable experiences for our guests. The world’s tallest slingshot and drop tower make great additions to our world-class line up,” said Chris Jaskiewicz, ICON Park president and CEO. “Between The SlingShot Group’s three towering attractions and The Wheel, the tallest observation wheel on the East Coast, ICON Park truly is the ‘Land of the Giants’.”

Friends eating at ICON Park Orlando
Credit: ICON Park Orlando

In a new statement from Slingshot CEO Ritchie Armstrong, the company has officially decided to tear down the ride.

“We are devastated by Tyre’s death. We have listened to the wishes of Tyre’s family and the community, and have made the decision to take down the FreeFall,” Armstrong said. “In addition, Orlando Slingshot will honor Tyre and his legacy in the classroom and on the football field by creating a scholarship in his name.”

There was not a timeline given for when the ride would be torn down, with the company saying it was pending approval from all the parties involved and state regulatory agencies.

Attractions at ICON Park Orlando
Credit: ICON Park Orlando

Earlier this year, the state agency found that the safety sensors on two of the Free Fall’s seats had been modified to allow more room for Guests. This is what is theorized to be the reason Sampson slipped out of his seat.

We will continue to update our story as more information becomes available. 

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