Six Flags Great Adventure faces fine over Kingda Ka restraint incident

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs is drafting a notice of violation against Six Flags Great Adventure and an order that it pay a fine for allegedly failing to notify the state of an incident where a shoulder strap broke on the Kingda Ka roller coaster. The park said in an email the shoulder strap was not part of the restraint system and was merely for comfort.

Read more from Asbury Park Press.

Jeff's avatar

While this does create a scary situation, they aren't wrong that the shoulder strap is not an essential part of the restraint, which is why enthusiasts find them so annoying. It's a little annoying that the rider was not content with the no harm, no foul explanation.

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Absolutely true, Jeff. I doubt this press will affect the park in any manner, and the $5,000 is chump change for them.

Your right Jeff, in fact there was a similar incident at Busch Gardens a while back when a shoulder strap on Tempesto became undone.

Not to be a contrarian, but do we know for a fact that the straps aren’t considered to be part of the primary restraint by Intamin? We know it isn’t on the Premier coasters (Tempesto et al) because the Busch installations are the only ones with the “comfort collars,” but I feel like we’re making assumptions regarding Kingda Ka.

sirloindude's avatar

I have no access to the specifications, but I seriously doubt those straps would be able to keep a rider from getting ejected, depending on the severity of the airtime, of course. I always got the impression that they were basically there to restrict movement a bit and not much else.

Last edited by sirloindude,

13 Boomerang, 9 SLC, and 8 B-TR clones

Well, I haven’t ridden Kinda Krap yet but I do know that for me personally, I’m up in the shoulder restraint on the first drop on Maverick and I-305. But I’m also taller than most.

But then again, what do I know?

sirloindude said:

II always got the impression that they were basically there to restrict movement...

You mean like a restraint does?

It seems to me that the problem for the park is that the shoulder strap is there and if it fails, whether it provides any protection or not, the park is on the hook because of the perceived protection that it offers the rider. I would imagine the argument against the park would be along the lines of "if it is not part of the restraint system then why is it there? If it is for comfort then what sort of comfort do they provide?" I am not sure how the park answers that without indicating that it helps keep the rider in place.

Fun's avatar

The fact that dragster doesn't have them and Kingda Ka does is ample evidence that the shoulder straps serve no real purpose.

I agree. But all it takes is for her lawyer to ask why they are there. At that point it becomes tricky for the park to provide a response that does not make the straps part of the restraint system.

Look at a ride like Revolution (although it once again is lapbar only)... it operated for years safely with lapbars only. But once it added shoulder harnesses, I feel like it’s tough to argue they aren’t part of the restraint system.

Jeff's avatar

Those shoulder bits don't touch my shoulders. The bar restrains you at your lap.

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Tekwardo's avatar

I’m pretty sure there are some intamin trains out there that have the same restraint mechanism without the shoulder portion (like Tempesto and Premier).

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Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

^ Doesn’t that pretty much describe Skyrush aka Thighcrush?

But then again, what do I know?

This woman is so worried, she bought season passes for next year, and rode the thing again (albeit on a different day). That hardly seems terrified to me.

^ and made the situation into a (granted, pretty funny) Christmas card...

But then again, what do I know?

sirloindude's avatar

Shades said:

You mean like a restraint does?

I meant it isn't there to prevent ejection as much as it's there to maybe keep your upper half from maybe having more freedom of movement than usual (i.e. it's the comfort thing you mentioned), but I realize I worded it about as doofusly as I could have, haha.

13 Boomerang, 9 SLC, and 8 B-TR clones

It's there to make guests feel safe but isn't a necessary part of the restraint. TTD at Cedar Point doesn't have them and it's essentially the same ride. It's all perception and nothing else. That's how they argue it.

All lap bars aren't made equal. The lap bars on TTD on Kingda Ka have a completely different form factor and fit. The bars on TTD are tight and form-fitting, which they obviously have to be since they're the only primary form of restraint. The bars on Kingda Ka (and Maverick and I-305 and others) are basically a padded cylinder which to my untrained eye doesn't appear to be as secure as the thigh-hugging TTD/MF restraints.

Here's the restraint on Maverick:

And here's the lapbar-only Skyrush -- note how much more substantial the restraints are:

I'm only an observer without any insider information, but my inclination is that Intamin intended for the shoulder straps to be part of the primary restraint on Kingda Ka.

Jeff's avatar

They're decoration. They don't even touch my wife. The main bar that touches your thighs is what's connected to the hydraulic mechanism that keeps it from moving.

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