Are Rides at Traveling Theme Parks Safe Enough?
Although Florida has only about 16 well-known theme and water parks, an impressive number of additional permanent theme parks are scattered throughout the state. In addition, many fairs and carnivals travel throughout the state, setting up rides for a few days before moving to the next destination. Even though these temporary theme parks are subject to specific safety regulations and inspections, the rides may be more prone to malfunctioning than their counterparts at permanent theme parks.
As recently as March 2013, a malfunction caused one ride to tilt to the extent that riders feared it would fall over. Even though state inspectors had examined the ride at the time it was set up, witnesses say they saw something fall off the ride — perhaps a wheel. The accident sent two juveniles to a local medical center.
Under Florida law, even temporary amusement parks must request ride inspections at least 14 days prior to their first intended use at a new location. Inspectors must meet the following qualifications in order to inspect rides:
- At least five years of experience in the amusement ride field, with two years involved in amusement ride inspection
- Thirty-two hours per year of continuing education to keep them updated in new developments in the field
- At least 80 hours of formal education in amusement ride safety within the last five years — although certain types of testing training can replace a portion of the education hours
It took a post-accident inspection by the Florida Bureau of Rides to reveal a possible history of problems with the amusement park ride. The accident also points to an issue that may be complicated by traveling theme parks. Each ride can be built by different manufacturers — and all are subject to wear and damage during travel or due to mishandling by inexperienced theme park workers. If inadequate inspection, maintenance or operation, or overall negligence plays a role in an accident, an attorney experienced with theme park litigation can help determine if the theme park could be found liable.