Being one of the worst roller coaster accidents in the past couple of years, the fatal New Texas Giant accident from this Summer rocked the entire Amusement Park industry. It led to park guests from all over the country questioning the safety of the rides at their own Local Amusement Parks. It's been almost 6 months since the incident now, and things are starting to quiet down again. But Six Flags Over Texas is beginning to see the ripple affect the accident's had on the entire park.
Besides the estimated $3,000,000 in litigation costs the park's paid towards the wrongful death lawsuit, park attendance hit a startling low in the second half of July 2013 and after. I, coincidentally, had the opportunity to visit the park just over a month before and 2 months after the incident. There have been some burning questions floating around, asking how the park's "changed" after the accident. I decided to put this article together on my firsthand accounts of the noticeable changes.
How has the restraining process of the New Texas Giant changed since the accident?
Well, a lot. I visited the park during the 3rd operating day for the ride since the accident, and you could see some major differences. The ride attendants put tremendously more force when pushing down the lap bar from a few months before. I also witnessed a lady who monitored the station near the main operator podium, who appeared to be from corporate. On almost every train, one of the ride attendants would call the lady over to analyze a guests' restraint as to whether it was secure enough. The rule is: the lap bar must be in full contact with the waist, and both of the rider's feet must be planted evenly on the ground. The lady would come and check the rider and make the final call to the ride attendant as to whether the guest could ride or not. I believe this lady was temporary, and only there during the early process to train the regular attendants properly.
Has the restraining for the park's other rides also gotten stricter?
Actually, no. When I rode Titan right after the Giant, the ride attendant barley pushed down my lap bar. So to say, if I was stupid I might have been able to squeeze out of the bar. Don't take that too seriously though, as the Giant and Titan are like Hot to Cold. The Giant features very intense Negative-G's that constantly force riders OUT of their seats, which calls for a much more restrictive lap bar. On Titan, it features Positive-G's the force riders IN to their seats. This is simply a thought, and I am by no means a coaster engineer, but you could theoretically ride Titan with a just a seat belt. I only say that so you can understand how Titan, along with most of the other coasters in the park, don't need to be as tight. Do remember though: it's always safer and in your best interest to make sure your bar is down nice and tight. To sum everything up, no. The park has not noticeably been stricter in the restraining on other rides.
Are park guests becoming more self-aware about safety and the maintenance of the rides?
This is a hard one, because it's based only on my observations, but not really. You might be able to say that guests were more attentive on restraining their safety devices, but it's hard to compare. The only difference I saw were in the park guest's conversations I (Nose-ily) overheard. Lightheartedly, park guests seem to take the accident as making the ride more "scary" to ride. I heard numerous guests jokingly say "I survived!" and "Don't fall out!". Though it's probably not the most respectful things to say towards the accident, they did. It's probably the only "positive" reaction Six Flags has gotten out of the accident. I think safety has popped back into park guests's minds, but not enough to prevent them from riding.
What do you thing of all of this? Will/Has this accident changed the way you feel about Amusement Park Safety? Let us know on out Facebook Page! www.Facebook.com/ThemeParkOverload My name's Nicholous, and Thanks for Reading!