Roller Coasters are machines too!!!
What is the one thing that most theme park or coaster enthusiasts love most? What's that one thing that we'd love to experience? Hope for? Shout for? Ride coasters in the cold weather in hopes that it will happen?
That's right, we all want to get that "walk off" or "roll back".
Written by Gregg Condon
Why? Because we're nerds, and we love that crap. But also because we know these rides are perfectly safe and if we should get stuck on a lift hill or a brake run we are also PERFECTLY safe.
So why is it so many "traditional news" organizations will take what is sought after by us, and a common occurrence at most parks and treat it as "breaking news"? Because a story about a machine and it's plethora of safety mechanisms working exactly as they are designed to isn't much of a story.
This past Wednesday at Frontier City in Oklahoma City the "Silver Bullet" coaster got stuck on the lift hill. 3/4 of the riders were evacuated very quickly via the safety stairs that you will find on the lift hill of pretty much every coaster ever.
The other 1/4 were unfortunately cresting over the lift hill and had to be rescued by local fire department.
And that's the end of the story. The coaster didn't crash, nobody had to go to the hospital, the coaster didn't roll back ... all of the safety mechanisms on the ride worked EXACTLY as they were supposed to.
Yet when we saw tweets and stories from major news organizations (it even made our local news here in LA) we saw so many responses about how "coasters aren't safe" and there are "too many accidents" on coasters.
What a load of crap ...
Here is the portion of the update where we throw some numbers out that you already know, otherwise you wouldn't allow your family to ride rides.
According to the latest amusement/theme park attendance reports, more than 150,000,000 (yes, 150 MILLION) people visited JUST the top 20 US parks last year.
The latest estimates are about a 1 in 300,000,000 chance of dying on an amusement park ride.
For comparison sake:
Unintentional Poisoning By and Exposure to Noxious Substances - 1 in 103
Motor Vehicle Crash - 1 in 113
Fall - 1 in 133
Assault by Firearm - 1 in 358
Ok, that's enough of the morbid talk unless you're into that kind of stuff, then you can find more info here.
For some reason despite the media and public perception Roller Coasters aren't even on the list. Go figure.
This also doesn't even account for "rider" incidents of causing a ride to break down. Selfie Sticks on CA Screamin' anybody?
But the media's coverage of coasters goes far beyond just inaccurate reporting or sensationalizing of minor coaster incidents.
Just yesterday(June 30) there was a brand new Today Show article about the top 10 parks in the US. Other than the NBC Owned Universal Studios being at the top, they also claimed that Holiday World in Indiana was actually in Orlando.
Yeah, this is small potatoes, and the park actually had some fun with it, but it just goes to show the severe lack of research when it comes to theme parks in the general media.
Sure, parks are going to cater to these big media outlets, they've got the viewers, they are talking to a general audience and not just a theme park audience that we mostly speak to.
And sure, our numbers aren't anywhere close to something like the local Sandusky newspaper or Cleveland TV stations ... but what we (and other park sites) do offer is months and months of coverage of new rides prior to them opening instead of a 2 minute clip on opening day. Posting of press releases for special events and Tweets about all of these parks. Updates on possible delays in a ride's opening so people can better plan their vacations.
But beyond that, because we are passionate about the industry, when an incident happens we will research it and not try and sensationalize it just to get viewers. We see ourselves as kind of ambassadors to theme parks and we want people to go and have a great time and know they are safe. Anything that takes away from that isn't cool in our book.
There has to be a tipping point eventually, where some park or park chain is going to get fed up with the reporting of a simple e-stop. There are news organizations and theme parks that are owned by the same company (Disney and Comcast) and even those news organizations seem to go overboard.
At the very least news organizations should contact a parks PR department for a statement and actually do some research before perpetuating this false narrative about theme parks and their rides not being safe.
So what do you think? Is there an unfair assessment of theme parks in the general media? What are some of the craziest stories you've seen out there?