Amusement Park Accidents :: Rip Ride Rockit Reminds Us that Even the Biggest Theme Park Rides Can Malfunction.


Universal Studios Roller Coaster ‘Glitch’ Strands Riders for Hours

Orlando is known for its theme parks. With Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Legoland, Sea World and Disney World’s four amusement parks; Orlando is home to many great roller coasters. For people who like a little height with their thrill rides, the tallest roller coaster in the state of Florida is the Rip Ride Rockit at Universal Studios. Standing over 17 stories high and currently holding world records for highest vertical lift hill and world’s first non-inverting loop, this ground breaking roller coaster is one of Orlando’s most popular rides.

Unfortunately, Orlando’s tallest rollercoaster recently came to a dead stop when a glitch caused the computer to go into safety mode and lock the ride. Twelve people were suspended in a midair vertical position over 150 feet high towards the top of the world record setting lift. It took nearly two hours for park officials to make sure the cars were in a locked position. Once they were able to confirm this, they gave the go-ahead for rescue crews to take the passengers down. This entire process took nearly three hours and left one woman with a neck injury.

Florida Theme Parks that Operate Free of State Safety Inspections

Many are not aware of the exemption that was originally written into Florida law for Walt Disney World and other theme parks. The exemption spares amusement parks from state safety inspections; leaving parks in a position to govern themselves.

Florida amusement park owners include:

• Walt Disney Company: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom • NBC Universal: Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Wet ‘n Wild • SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment: SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay • Merlin Entertainment Group: Legoland
For an amusement park to qualify, it must have a minimum of 1,000 employees. If at any point the employment falls under 1,000, the park would become subject to regulation by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The law requires the exempt parks to employ full-time in-house safety inspectors. The amusement parks are also required to file affidavits annually with the state certifying the rides have been inspected. With the major Florida theme parks being exempt, the State of Florida focuses mostly on carnivals, traveling fairs and smaller attractions.

Theme Parks May Not Be Reporting Every Injury

It is safe to say theme parks are more than motivated to keep things safe. They do care about their guests and would like to avoid the negative publicity that would result from an amusement park accident. Still, many feel that the state’s reporting requirements are not enough. The fear is that many parks underreport the number of accidents and injuries that occur. Even though underreporting is a problem in many states that have this law exemption for parks, there is no state worse than Florida. Busch Gardens even went through a span of over three years without reporting one single incident.

Going back to the incident we first spoke about, the Rip Ride Rockit alone has a ride capacity of 1,850 passengers per hour. That is a lot of lives in the hands of Universal Studios. We know safety is a priority for these amazing theme parks, but they want the state to stay out of it. They are confident they can handle it and govern themselves. This is a responsibility these companies want. Theme parks also need to accept responsibility if something goes wrong.

If you’ve been injured at an amusement park and feel it may have been due to the negligence of the park, you should speak to an attorney. The Fort Lauderdale accident attorneys of Madalon Law are here to answer your questions and address your concerns. During our call, we will gladly explain what your options are at no cost. We are based out of Fort Lauderdale and fight for the rights of accident victims throughout the state of Florida. Contact us today for your free consultation.