Six Flags announces restraint changes to Superman coasters

Posted Friday, May 7, 2004 1:09 PM | Contributed by Jeff

Six Flags announced today that it would shorten the seat belt length on the various Superman roller coasters following the death of a man that was tossed from the ride at Six Flags New England. The similar rides at Darien Lake and Six Flags America will get the same treatement.

Read the press release from PR Newswire.

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Friday, May 7, 2004 1:09 PM
Apparently they shared my opinion on the belt length.
Friday, May 7, 2004 1:35 PM
blows for us bigger riders
Friday, May 7, 2004 1:35 PM
Yeah, it blows that you won't fall out so much anymore.
Friday, May 7, 2004 1:39 PM
But, read the whole release because they are looking at doing more than that. They are looking at making changes to the lap bar and the seat to better secure riders. I think they needed to get a quick response out to the public and the most obvious and easily handled is the seatbelt.

The question is will that satisfy the State(s)? If it does, the rides could reopen fairly quickly. If it doesn't the re-engineering of the seat and lab bar may take much longer.

Friday, May 7, 2004 1:42 PM
I'm still not sure making the seatbelts shorter is going to fix everything. Ride ops will still need to be on the lookout for lapbars to be against the riders thighs. As I said in another thread, it is possible (although rare) for a rider to have a waist small enough for the seatbelts to fit around and still have a gut large enough to prevent the lapbar from coming down to their thighs.

Making the seatbelt shorter is a great start, but Six Flags will still need to make sure that employees are trained well enough to ensure that the lapbar is in the proper position. Otherwise it could come down to the rider being held in only by the seatbelt.

I've seen odd unusual shaped riders before at Millennium Force, and have had to ask them not to ride even though the seatbelt will fasten. It's not a common situation, but it sometimes happens.

Friday, May 7, 2004 1:52 PM
Further down in the press release:

"...We also are looking into extending the seat bottoms forward to improve rider position and further enhance the effectiveness of the restraints. By extending the seat bottom, we will help ensure riders maintain the proper position for the duration of the ride cycle."

Well, it's about time.

My prediction: Take a Dragster seat and lap bar, remove the headrest, and you've got a new Superman seat.

It looks like Six Flags is going to do this right.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Friday, May 7, 2004 2:02 PM
For people who can make a more educated guess then me:

How long do you think the described changes are going to take? Days, weeks or months? I'm thinking in terms of all 3 Supermans, not just the one at SFNE.

Friday, May 7, 2004 2:10 PM
It doesn't take too long to change a seatbelt. Question is, do they have the seatbelts onsite or will they have to wait for them to arrive.

The other question to ask was pointed out by wahoo. Will the seatbelts satisfy the state?

Friday, May 7, 2004 2:11 PM
My guess is it will be fast. Intamin & SF will be motivated to get this behind them. The more time the rides are down, the more guests will be talking about how they are unsafe. Just my guess.
Friday, May 7, 2004 2:13 PM
Agreed, Dave. What they describe IS a Dragster seat.

Another important part is reviewing operating procedures and training, which also contributed to the death.

Friday, May 7, 2004 2:27 PM
I think it's great that Intamin and SF are making these mods.

I hope the parks don't find themselves between the proverbial rock and hard place when it comes to telling large riders 'NO!'. It seems they are damned if they do and damned if they don't.


Friday, May 7, 2004 2:33 PM
It is much easier to say no if you have a test seat outside the line and someone there to help them make the call before they get in line. They will have a lot of upset people if they allow people to wait in line that were able to ride before that cannot anymore.
Friday, May 7, 2004 2:39 PM
Reviewing operating procedures and training will take care of the problem this season. But what happens when they change crews again next season? Retention of experienced crews should become a priority as well so that knowledgebase is passed on from crew to crew.
Friday, May 7, 2004 2:45 PM
On the topic of the test seat, I have always been of the opinion that these seats need not be right out in public. Most parks have nearby back-stage areas where they could escort a guest to see if they will adequately fit in the seat and can be secured. I am not in this position myself but I don't care for larger people having to be put on display in front of crowds either.

Friday, May 7, 2004 2:50 PM
It'll probably take some time for new seats & bars to be made,shipped,installed & finally tested before the rides can re-open.

Bottom line is if you're going to SFA,SFDL or SFNE don't expect S:ROS to be running anytime soon,there are after all other rides & coasters at these three parks for guests to enjoy.

Friday, May 7, 2004 2:55 PM
If you read the release carefully:

"We have decided to ... shorten... these seatbelts"


"We are also continuing to examine other modifications ... modify the lapbar ...extend... the seat bottoms"

So, it looks to me as though they hope to make the belt change and put the ride back on-line, and do the other two later.

Friday, May 7, 2004 2:56 PM
Rihard: Read it again. They are not just changing the seat belt lengths. They are also making changes to address the problems Mr. Altoff described so well in rrc. Obviously I'd have an opinion if it was just the seatbelts, I'm wondering how long it's going to take to make the other modifications.

I'll be at SFNE in 1 week, SFA on June 1 and SFDL in the beginning of September. My personal guess is I won't be getting on SFNE's Superman, maybe on SFA's and definitely on SFDL's.

Regardless, it sounds like they are making smart changes.

EDIT: After reading Mr. Noble's post maybe I'm the one that needs to read it again. Oh well, I'll keep my fingers crossed.*** This post was edited by rdreaming 5/7/2004 2:58:33 PM ***

Friday, May 7, 2004 3:08 PM
rdreaming, I guess I was under the same impression that Noble is. But really the Six Flags statement didn't specify either way. I think what it will come down to is what the state inspectors will accept. I imagine if the state says the shorter seatbelts are good enough, Six Flags will open the ride with just the seatbelt changes, and work on the rest of the re-design later. You never know though.
Friday, May 7, 2004 3:13 PM
At this point, plan on all three SROS being closed for some time. If Six Flags is smart they're going to take their time and do the fix right. If you have plans to visit SFDL, SFNE, or SFA in the near future you have two choices: accept the fact that you probably won't be riding Superman or change your plans until you know for sure they're open.

*** This post was edited by Mamoosh 5/7/2004 3:16:54 PM ***


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