Theme parks are a great way to blow off steam with friends and family during the summertime. With around 400 million people visiting them each year, theme parks are popular summer vacation destinations. But with the extreme roller coasters and intimidating attractions, many people question their safety. News stories pop up now and then about different accidents at theme parks, sparking many discussions and further causing concerns about their safety. So how safe are theme parks, and how can I stay safe if I attend one this summer?
Theme park accidents are not very common. However, they are still possible. In 2021, about 130 serious ride-related incidents occurred in North American theme parks. Compared to other accidents, such as motor vehicle accidents, in which about 42,915 people died in 2021, serious theme park accidents are rare. According to the International Association of Amusement Parks (IAAPA), there are about 1 to 15.5 million odds of a serious injury occurring on an attraction.
The IAAPA understands concerns for the well-being of theme park guests and has done lots of research and created precautions to assure them of their safety. When rides are being designed, the first thing that is taken into consideration is safety. For example, when roller coasters were first introduced, experts decided there needed to be a three-wheel design that surrounded the track, making it so the roller coaster vehicles don’t de-rail. Qualified engineers and professionals dedicate their time to making attractions as safe as they can be, and rides are also constantly being updated and undergoing maintenance to ensure that they continue to run smoothly.
As safe as attractions are, there are instances where serious injuries do occur. In a recent example, in March of 2022, a 14-year-old boy died in an Orlando theme park on a “free fall” attraction after coming out of his harness. Some accidents can occur due to a ride malfunction, while others are due to human error. Deaths like the Orlando incident are rare, but other injuries are more likely. Some common amusement park injuries are brain and head injuries, broken bones, neck and back injuries, and bruises. These injuries are usually caused by the intense nature of theme park rides which will sometimes cause people to be moved around aggressively.
Theme Park Safety Guidelines
Because of the intensity of some theme park rides, strict safety measures are put in place with the goal of eliminating injuries. It is the park’s and the ride attendant’s job to keep patrons safe by enforcing these measures, but for everything to truly go smoothly, guests must follow and abide by the theme park rules. Theme parks will post rules, and they should not be hard to miss. Ride safety guidelines are also usually posted at each attraction in case there are specific rules for the ride. If you ever have any questions about a ride’s policies or are confused, feel free to ask park employees about ride safety measures.
Here are some other amusement park safety tips to follow:
- Abide by ride height, weight, and health restrictions
- Read ride rules and listen to the ride operators
- Secure loose articles at all times
- Keep all body parts in the ride at all times
- Always remain seated until you are instructed otherwise by a ride operator
- Always correctly use ride safety equipment (if you have questions about certain equipment works, please ask a ride operator)
Unfortunately, theme park accidents and injuries can occur even if you follow all the rules. Legal options are available if you or someone you know has been injured at a theme park. Personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits are possible if a negligent act causes your injury. After the death at the Orlando amusement park, the 14-year-old boy’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the park, the ride operator, and the ride manufacturer. As a result, the lawsuit was settled against the park and ride operator. There continues to be an ongoing case against the manufacturer.