State Inspection Comes Forward After Unexpected Carowinds Shutdown

in Theme Parks

Fury 325 coaster track at Carowinds

Credit: Carowinds

Theme parks, known for their thrilling rides and attractions, are places where excitement and joy meet technology and engineering.

However, amidst the fun, there have been instances of unexpected and sometimes bizarre accidents that remind us of the importance of safety and vigilance in these environments.

The Flying Cobras inversion at Carowinds
Credit: Carowinds

One such incident occurred in 2016 at Dreamworld in Australia when the Thunder River Rapids ride malfunctioned, leading to the tragic deaths of four visitors. In another instance, Disneyland Paris saw a peculiar event in 2013 when a roller coaster car on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad derailed, resulting in the injury of several riders.

The most recent viral incident, which turned tragic, happened in March of 2022 when 14-year-old Tyre Sampson fell to his death while aboard the Orlando FreeFall at ICON Park.

Perhaps one of the most bizarre accidents happened at Action Park in New Jersey. The theme park gained notoriety in the 1980s for its poorly designed and hazardous rides, such as the looping water slide that caused numerous injuries.

Guests riding Thunder Striker, roller coaster opening at Carowinds following a recent amusement park announcement
Credit: Carowinds

These incidents highlight the inherent risks in amusement park rides and the critical need for rigorous safety protocols and regular inspections. This brings us to a more recent concern involving Fury 325, a popular roller coaster at Carowinds amusement park.

Last year, WSOC-TV first reported a significant issue with a cracked support beam on Fury 325. The Department of Labor subsequently launched an investigation, leading to the ride’s temporary shutdown. Now, the findings of that investigation have been released, shedding light on the cause and implications of the crack.

BREAKING: Official Statement Released by Theme Park After Coaster Incident Caught on Video
Credit: @CarowindsFansOnly on Twitter

The report, prepared by the engineering firm Applied Technical Services, includes detailed photos of the damaged beam. According to the report, the crack was caused by “unidirectional bending fatigue.”

This type of fatigue refers to the stress that repeatedly applies in a single direction, weakening the structure over time. The fracture initiated at the toe of the weld, which is the edge of the weld joint, making it a “stress raiser” that accelerated the formation of the crack.

Interestingly, the support column in question had only been in place since 2015, with an expected lifespan of over 50 years. This discrepancy between expected and actual performance raised concerns about the initial construction and ongoing maintenance practices. The detailed investigation revealed that while the design was sound, the execution and perhaps the materials used may have contributed to the premature failure.

“The safety of our guests and associates will always be Carowinds’ top priority,” the amusement park stated. “Fury 325 reopened on August 10, 2024, following a final inspection by the North Carolina Department of Labor’s Elevator and Amusement Device Bureau. The ride’s return to operation marked the end of a comprehensive plan dedicated to ensuring the safety and operational readiness of the coaster, as outlined in a series of updates publicly shared by the park last summer.”

“The Bureau inspected Fury 325 on February 29, 2024, prior to the park opening for the 2024 season and approved it for operation. Like all of our rides and attractions at Carowinds, Fury 325 is inspected daily by our staff during operation. For more information about ride inspections, please visit our AirTime blog.”

The entrance to Carowinds
Credit: Carowinds

Carowinds has emphasized its commitment to safety and transparency throughout this process. The park’s proactive communication and the extensive inspection regimen underscore their dedication to maintaining high safety standards. The final inspection and subsequent reopening of Fury 325 have restored confidence among visitors, allowing them to once again enjoy a ride that has been rated the “Best Steel Coaster” by Amusement Today for eight consecutive years.

This incident at Carowinds serves as a reminder of the delicate balance between thrill and safety in amusement parks. The proactive measures taken by the park and the thorough investigation by engineering experts highlight the industry’s commitment to preventing accidents and ensuring that every ride meets stringent safety standards.

As theme parks continue to push the boundaries of excitement and innovation, the lessons learned from incidents like these are invaluable in safeguarding the future of amusement rides for generations to come.

in Theme Parks

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