Man without hands denied ride at Six Flags Over Texas

Posted Wednesday, June 13, 2012 10:07 AM | Contributed by Jeff

A North Texas man said Six Flags Over Texas staff told him he couldn't ride the park's roller coasters because he does not have hands. The park maintains that it meets ride manufacturer and ADA guidelines.

Read more from KXAS/Dallas-Ft. Worth.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012 10:53 PM

At the parks I've worked at, there was never any grey area as to who could ride what. There was a specific guideline as to what was required for someone to ride, it was never a judgement call for the operator. Back at SFOT, for all coasters at the time the rider needed to have at least 3 limbs intact past the first appendage. I've not worked there in over a decade so it sounds like the policy has changed to include hands as well.

There was also some sort of literature at guest relations for guests with disabilities that would explain the specific rider requirements for each ride. I think the parks's responsibility to make sure disabled guests have a clear understanding of the rides that they're able to enjoy. Also for them to train staff to be aware of the requirements and tactfully enforce them.

I wrote a paper in school many years back about parks working to meet ADA requirements and accommodation of guests with disabilities. A quick call to guest relations at various parks was all it took to get an attractions guide for the disabled dropped in the mail to me for my report.

Understandably, some might not be aware of the guides. But the policies regarding what's required for someone to ride are set in place, and in print, long before the park is open for the season.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012 11:27 PM
CoasterDemon's avatar

RatherGoodBear said:

The comments that "they" should install a shoulder harness on one seat just so this guy could ride one day a year. Yeah, sure.

Agreed. But at the same time, B&M has a special harness that can be hooked on to the frame on Sheikra. Or was it Griffon? I can't remember. And I never saw the actual harness myself. A ride op was explaining to me how it worked when I was getting on one of those rides. The special frame "clips" were only on 1 or 2 seats. I'm sure someone (like Rideman, for example) know a little bit more about this than me.


Billy
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Thursday, June 14, 2012 2:02 AM

The article states guest relations told him he couldn't ride anything. I'm surprised about that. I can understand not being allowed to ride the coasters but I would have thought he would still be allowed to ride any tame rides the park has like the boat dark ride or train.

Last edited by YoshiFan, Thursday, June 14, 2012 2:02 AM
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Thursday, June 14, 2012 3:17 AM
DantheCoasterman's avatar

I just feel like this is a COMPLETELY different situation from the Darien Lake incident. That accident involved a man who had had his legs amputated . In this Texas Giant case, the man was simply without fingers.

The restraint systems for both coasters are mainly composed of lap bars. It seems obvious to me that the man's lack of legs on Superman would compromise his safety...but a lack of fingers on Texas Giant? Not so much.

I agree that the park made the SAFE decision...but I'm not so positive it was the necessary one.


-Daniel

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Thursday, June 14, 2012 3:44 AM

RatherGoodBear said:

Reading the comments with the article, I get annoyed at the idea that people should be able to do whatever they want, whenever and wherever they want, and the rest of the world exists solely to make that possible.

In most cases, with most disabilities, we have the means/technology to give the disabled the access they need. I agree with requiring that. Although with amusement rides, there's certainly no good way to make sure everyone is accommodated, so I don't have an issue with certain kinds of disabilities being excluded.

I think common sense dictates in this case that the man without hands could have rode without issue. As long as the dude could get his seat belt and lap bar taken care of (which it sounds like he probably could have) I don't see a problem with it.

Although the insurance/legal people would have a heart attack, I think it makes a lot more sense to dictate common sense policies ride by ride instead of having a one size fits all policy to cover everything. I know the Skycoaster I worked on was very specific with what limbs/how much of each limb was required in order for someone to ride. I suspect most if not all manufacturers do that. I admit it would open up that grey area where you're asking the 18 year old ride operators to attempt to verify the guest's medical conditions. There are a number of ways parks could handle that, but all of them require the park to be quite a bit more proactive than just issuing a blanket policy that treats all physical disabilities alike.


And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

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Thursday, June 14, 2012 3:51 AM

Dan, earlier I couldn't load that article, so I could only go on the little blurb at the beginning. I agree with you. While I understand the reasoning behind the park's decision to not allow him on the ride, it may have been unnecessary. I really felt bad for him when reading this article.

That being said, I am quite certain the park does not have the appropriate sort of staff that could make case by case decisions, nor do they most likely even WANT that kind of uncertainty. A blanket policy that covers all riders' safety basically has to be used consistently. How can they choose fairly and decently who rides and who doesn't? It is a really sad thing to read, but I still maintain it was the safe thing to do. Will Six Flags get in big trouble over this? Well...it IS Six Flags. A butterfly flaps its wings and Six Flags gets sued, so...(and this is not saying they don't sometimes deserve it).


"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

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Thursday, June 14, 2012 9:51 AM
rollergator's avatar

DantheCoasterman said:

I agree that the park made the SAFE decision...but I'm not so positive it was the necessary one.

While I agree that it was "almost certainly" an overly-cautious decision....from the park's POV, the price of being wrong is just hoo high.

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Thursday, June 14, 2012 11:33 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

CP Chris said:
There are a number of ways parks could handle that, but all of them require the park to be quite a bit more proactive than just issuing a blanket policy that treats all physical disabilities alike.

This goes back to consistency of policy. (see the Tinkerbell story)

The second you begin doing something on a case-by-case basis you open yourself up to all kinds of scrutiny. If you have a simple across the board procedure, no one can accuse you of anything other than being too (fill in the blank) with your procedures.

The moment you leave any grey area is the moment someone can (and will) abuse it.

In other words, it's not worth dealing with a bunch of lawsuits so a handful of people who currently can't ride, could ride.

Unfortunately when you run a business you have to prepare for an assume the worst and work up from there. Not the other way around.


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Thursday, June 14, 2012 1:06 PM

Lord Gonchar, well said^^. Plus, even if they could go on a case by case basis, I would think they would need a medical opinion, someone who was familiar enough with all the rides and the restraint systems to ensure safety, and there would probably still have to be a waiver of some sort. From a general safety perspective, as well as from a business standpoint, there is nothing to do about a rule like this except enforce it and enforce it consistently. It stinks, but it is necessary.


"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

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Thursday, June 14, 2012 5:09 PM
DantheCoasterman's avatar

A black-and-white policy is definitely the only way they can handle this kind of thing. I don't disagree with that one bit. I just think it's extremely unfortunate.


-Daniel

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Thursday, June 14, 2012 6:08 PM

Yes it is unfortunate, Dan. I can see a person with no ARMS not being allowed to ride something with a shoulder restraint, but not a young man with no hands. Six Flags made the safe call, which I commend them for, but at the same time, I can't really get COMPLETELY behind the logic when I think about it with my heart rather than my head. But again, these decisions must be made with all concern for safety and consistency in policy. I'm just glad I was not the person making that call or being the one who said no.


"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

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Thursday, June 14, 2012 6:08 PM

Some of you have posted that parks can't discriminate against people with disabilities. But, some parks are already discriminating against people who are overweight as it is now. So, where is the rule that says parks can't discriminate against people with legitimate disabilities.

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Thursday, June 14, 2012 6:21 PM

Corkscrew Follies said:
Some of you have posted that parks can't discriminate against people with disabilities. But, some parks are already discriminating against people who are overweight as it is now. So, where is the rule that says parks can't discriminate against people with legitimate disabilities.

The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) says theme parks cannot discriminate against people with disabilities). Being overweight is not a disability. People who are overweight may either BECOME disable because of their weight or may become more overweight because of a disability, but just being overweight is not a disability. It is one of the last acceptable forms of discrimination left in the world, unfortunately. Just like smokers can have their civil rights violated and jobs denied to them simply for smoking because what they do is unhealthy and a choice, so they are not considered a "human rights group". But I'm not even gonna get started there because I'll never shut up.


"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

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Thursday, June 14, 2012 9:06 PM

I'm reading everyone's responses and although there are some decent points, I still don't understand how him not having hands really effects his ability to ride safely. And yes, it does go to people who are paralyzed from the waist down or have a broken leg being allowed. Some coasters have elevators for them to gain access to the station.

Darrien Lake was absolutely a different case. Your legs play a very big part in keeping you in the car. It's your legs inability to straighten that keeps you from flying out. A man with amputated legs could be held down a bit by restraints, but given enough force, he was thrown from the car. But for someone fully legged, even under paralysis, would be hard pressed to be thrown from a train without something else being wrong. You'd have to apply so much force that their thigh bones would break before they could bend them enough to be ejected.

But hands? Sure, the person would need assistance buckling their seat belt...but hell, when I was bigger, ride operators helped me buckle mine. And going down the lift if needed...I don't know that I can even buy him not being able to hold on to the rail. Just like with a person who was in a cast or just paralyzed, someone would have to assist them in getting down.

I'll always side with safety...even in this case. But I just can't find a good reason for him not being allowed to ride.

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Friday, June 15, 2012 12:23 AM
obxKevin's avatar

And I keep hearing here how the park made the safe decision. How do we know it was the park's decision and not the ride manufacturer's?


The poster formerly known as 'Zcorpius.' Joined 2004
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Friday, June 15, 2012 12:28 AM

Jephry said:

I'm reading everyone's responses and although there are some decent points, I still don't understand how him not having hands really effects his ability to ride safely.

I think it's along the same lines as to why you need to wear shoes on most rapids/splash rides; emergency stops. If you can't grab onto a handrail, you can't get down the lift hill stairs safely if they have to evacuate the ride

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Friday, June 15, 2012 4:14 AM
DantheCoasterman's avatar

jonnytips said:
If you can't grab onto a handrail, you can't get down the lift hill stairs safely if they have to evacuate the ride

With all due respect, I could roll my eyes all day at this argument. ;-)


-Daniel

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Friday, June 15, 2012 8:16 AM

Dan, agreed. I again understand the logic behind the no handrail grasp no ride thing, but in the extremely rare case that a person has to go down those coaster hills, is grasp really gonna be the biggest issue? How about people with hand eye coordination issues or fear of heights (if I had to walk down a lift hill, I would be the one scooting down on my butt or needing an escort to assist me down the hill. Lol)? Perhaps on a suspended coaster it would matter more?


"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

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Friday, June 15, 2012 9:54 AM
James Whitmore's avatar

Playing devil's advocate and taking the 'inability to grab a handrail' to the extreme... people without hands should never be allowed to go higher than ground level of any building. <winky>


jameswhitmore.net

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Friday, June 15, 2012 3:44 PM
CoasterDemon's avatar

bunky666 said:
Just like smokers can have their civil rights violated and jobs denied to them simply for smoking because what they do is unhealthy and a choice,

Really? I wasn't aware of that.

Nothing against smokers, it's just that it really stinks and makes others ill. And the breath mint just adds to the bad breath, it doesn't fix it.

I think it's great the parks have adopted a no-smoking policy. Wasn't Holiday World the first park to do that? I'm not sure... Of course, some parks don't enforce it a bit, and some go to extremes (didn't Great Adventure brag the first year for escorting over 1,000 people out for violating the smoking policy? I guess 2nd chances wasn't an option.)

As for the guy with no hands, I could see him being denied some of the more aggressive rides (Titan/Giant), but what's the chance of a ride having to evacuate when he rides? I wonder how this is turning out. Good for him for being loud about it and saying "I just wanna ride!" instead of saying "I'm gonna sue!"


Billy
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