California says restraint on Perilous Plunge not adequate (updated)

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

California's agency that regulates ride safety says that Perilous Plunge at Knott's Berry Farm had "inadequate" restraints and that contributed to the accident that led to the death of an overweight woman last September when she was ejected from the ride. The state says the restraint system should be modified to accommodate all sizes of riders.

Read more from KFWB.

Additional information is available from the LA Times.

Related parks

Jeff's avatar

Dare I say the state is out of line. No system can accommodate riders of all sizes without compromising the safety of smaller passengers. The woman should have never been allowed to ride. The problem wasn't the engineering, it was the operating procedure.

Jeff - Webmaster/Admin -,
"As far as I can tell it doesn't matter who you are. If you can believe, there's something worth fighting for..." - Garbage, "Parade"

Great point! That says it all.

Welcome to the new age of PC -- "accomodate everyone".

"Wow, [in your life] when it rains, it not only pours, it floods the basement and causes thousands in damage!" -- Vicki Redcay
My page

What will this mean for other Intamin Rides with similar restraint sytems?

It's like GregLeg says, it's not PC to tell someone they are too big to be SAFELEY accommadated on a riding device. Personally, I've had my rear end chewed verbally by people who had no business trying to get on (and were politely told so). One went as far as creating a huge scene and then went to the local paper. It got mentioned, but not in the way that he had hoped.

What really irks me about the state "stepping in" is that most parks have some sort of disclaimer in their park guide or at the ride entrance that says "Guests with certain temporary disabilities such as braces, casts, etc, and those of extreme size may not be permitted on some rides". That right there should trigger something in a guests mind about whether they feel they can safely enjoy a particular attraction.

I am far from being an expert on the topic of safety restraints, but having a large friend who is unable to ride certain attractions due to his size, I have often wondered what could be done to correct this. B&M was definitely on the right path (at least in my eyes) with their seats on rides such as Alpengeist and Batman Knight Flight which accommodate larger guests. While these seats are STILL not able to accommodate everyone of larger size, they do allow some guests who are normally unable to fit in the regular restraints to get on.

I have not been on Perilous Plunge, so please don't jump on me for suggesting this, but couldn't the park and Intamin create one seat on board each 20-passenger (I believe that is the capacity) boat that will accommodate larger guests? With the lap bar system, it might be a challenge, but I'm sure there's some way they can engineer a restraint to keep larger guests in their seats. Again, it may not be able to accommodate someone who is over 300 pounds, but at least it would be an effort in good faith on Knotts' part.

I am not saying I agree with this by any means, because I think that the park industry has done just fine for years by accommodating "the average guest". Unfortunately, I have seen too many times in the past a crew of ride operators trying with all their might to lock a shoulder restraint, or trying to stretch a seat belt so it will connect... and in this day and age, people will complain about anything just so they can get their way. Is there a "happy medium"? I'm not sure, but I have a feeling we'll be finding out soon....


rollergator's avatar

Stan Checketts said it best "I can make a ride that EVERYONE will ride, but that would be an elevator and is NOT an amusement ride"...Paraphrasing of course...

Even with the signage though, if the problem was that she was too big, the operator should have informed her so, and invited her for an unfortunately embarrising walk down the exit ramp.

If the shoe fits, find another one.

Soggy's avatar
Joe E brings up a good point... PP's restraints and seats are exactly the same as all of Intamin's Hypers. I hear S:ROS (all 3 of them) has some wicked ejector air, and nobody has been ejected from those rises, and I would imagine that they have had plenty of 300 pounders ride them.

I still think something is fishy about the conclusions found.

Nothing... NOTHING... can prepare you for... the Fourth Dimension!

Soggy, actually a large man *was* ejected from Darien Lake's S:ROS.

He let the contents of the bottle do the thinking; can't shake the devil's hand and say you're only kidding.

So now my question is: Will Xcelerator's restraints be deemed "inadequate" as well? We know, from what Sandor said at the Solace, that Xcelerator was to be a lapbar with a seatbelt. I have a bad feeling about this...It will be interesting to see what the "fix" will be for PP.



When the Darien Lake S:RoS ejected a rider it did NOT have seatbelts. The ride originally opened with just the lapbar, seatbelts were added as a response to that rider ejection. (And they aren't a bad idea, IMNHO)

I recall Rideman mentioning that the seatbelts on MF (and I beleive PP, ironically) are of a special design that would take an outrageous amount of force to fail.

Of course we also know that seatbelts are also rider-removeable,and for some the temptation is too great,

David Bowers
Mayor, Coasterville

Jeff's avatar

That's just it... when this accident happened, there apparently was no sign of failure (aside from the fact that the passenger didn't return). At 300 pounds, I can certainly see how this person couldn't be safely restrained if, as some of you say, this is the same type of restraint as the Intamin coasters of late. It's just unfortunate the woman was ever allowed to ride, especially knowing Cedar Fair's high standards for safety.

Jeff - Webmaster/Admin -,
"As far as I can tell it doesn't matter who you are. If you can believe, there's something worth fighting for..." - Garbage, "Parade"

Gemini's avatar
Someone fill me in. Was this a "size" problem (size prevented the restraints from functioning correctly) or a "weight" problem (too much force against the restraints caused them to fail)? Certainly there is a wide variety of sizes for 300-pound people. A person who is 5'6" and 300 will be a lot different than a person who is 6'6" and 300.

Virtual Midway

*** This post was edited by Gemini on 3/20/2002. ***

The restraints did not fail physically.

There is another article at about the incident which lists additional information about what the investigators determined.


I have tried to describe a potential scenario before. It is somewhat graphic but I'll try again. Let's say the woman got into the ride and the restraint was locked in such a way that her belly was under the bar. At this point, if she were to be lifted out of her seat the restraint would catch her belly. Following?

Now, we all know that fat, for lack of a better word, is pliable. Thus, it can move around. Now, at some point in the ride, let's say that the belly ended up on top of the bar. Now, when a force lifts her out of the seat, she can keep on going because her belly is lifted free from the seat and the weight pulls her waist and legs along with it.

This is the only scenario I can think of where the restraint could still be locked yet she is ejected. I am assuming that there were other people in her row that didn't get ejected.

Jeff's avatar

From the LA Times: The manufacturer's own publicity photos, however, picture screaming passengers with their hands in the air.

See! And people who have been to Cedar Point photo or video shoots wonder why they won't let you put your hands up!

Jeff - Webmaster/Admin -,
"As far as I can tell it doesn't matter who you are. If you can believe, there's something worth fighting for..." - Garbage, "Parade"


Good point! I have been asked that quite a few times when Extreme Rides aired, " Why didn't you put your arms up like a true enthusiasts? Were you too afraid?" LOL.


While larger guests may see the sign that states 'larger riders might not be able to ride', I think it boils down to the fact that some people don't want to acknowledge they may be too heavy, thus blowing off the rule and in the end, making a safe ride, less safe for everyone, especially themselves. Luckily, there are those that won't argue with a ride op when they say they might be too large for the ride and leave the ride.


There's going to be another discussion like this when your B&M Flyer opens at SFOG. On opening day of AIR we saw several large (but in no way massive) people get turned away from the ride. The seats are very snug and far less accomodating that a normal B&M seat. This caused most of the delays on Saturday

You must be logged in to post

POP Forums - ©2022, POP World Media, LLC