Who sets rider height requirements?

Saturday, May 2, 2009 9:18 PM

I just took my daughter to a local carnival here in michigan, and she was not able to ride any of the rides that she had been on last year.

For example...The orient express rollercoaster(kiddie coaster ride). Last year she rode it and the height requirement was 36"(and she was exactly 36" tall). This year she is 38" tall and the new height requirement is 48" tall to ride alone. Now this is the same carnival and same ride. HUGE DIFFERANCE.


How does the height requirement jump from 36" to 48" in one year?

When I asked the ticked taker about the change, she responded(in a snotty voice), that osha makes the rules...not them.

The thing that really made me upset, was that ALL of the kiddie rides height requirements jumped up this year...by a lot. And if the child does not meet the height requrement, the parent has to ride with them but has to pay now.

I was about to take her on a few rides untill I found out that they charge parents now to take there kids on the rides. The tickets were $1.25 each, and the kiddie rides were all 3 tickets per person....It would have cost me $15 to take her on 2 rides...That is just crazy. They did have a wrist band, but it was $20 per person and I was not about to pay $40 for us to ride some carnival rides.

So who does make the requirements? Is it really osha, or is it the fair operator just trying to make an extra buck?

And is there a standard (local or across the board) for the requirements? If there is, is there a website that lists them? Dave......care to chime in?

Another example is that the scrambler at the same fair has a 48" requirement to ride...but at michigans adveture it has a 36" requrement

.http://www.miadventure.com/ridersafetyguide.shtml What gives?

Cedarpoint has a 36" requrement as well.

Last edited by crazy horse, Saturday, May 2, 2009 9:50 PM
Saturday, May 2, 2009 9:33 PM

Ride manufacturers give recommended height requirements. It's then up to the park/operator to determine if they want to keep it as is, raise it, or in rare cases, I'd imagine, lower it.

Saturday, May 2, 2009 10:13 PM

This sounds to me like a neat little gimmick to bilk the parents out of more money. Probably written by Bernie Madoff . . .

Saturday, May 2, 2009 10:41 PM

Parks are required by law to comply with manufacturer requirements.

Saturday, May 2, 2009 11:07 PM

I know Cedar Fair raised some of requirements at the Paramount Parks after they bought them. The Arrow mine trains went from 36" to 48"

They even changed the Wild Mouse at Dorney from 42" to 44" and that was a ride they installed themselves.

Saturday, May 2, 2009 11:17 PM

It probably differs from state to state, but in Illinois, the operator of a ride has to use the minimum requirement set by the manufacturer of said ride. They are at liberty to raise it but in no way can they lower it.

crazy horse: if true, that is an extreme case raising from 36" to 48".

Sunday, May 3, 2009 10:54 AM

Phantom, Thats what I thought, but the scrambler for example is 36" to ride at michigans adventure(same state) but 48" to ride at the fair. It is also 36" at cedarpoint as well.

The official ride site recomends that be 48" tall to ride.


Sunday, May 3, 2009 11:05 AM

Yoshi may have inadvertently stumbled onto something here. Cedar Fair now owns all of the carnivals, and are having their way with pricing, and height restrictions.

Coming soon to Cranberry NJ; Cedar Fairs Cranberry Farms carnival.

Sunday, May 3, 2009 12:19 PM

With regard to the Scrambler in specific, I'm forced to wonder if the accident didn't lead to that height increase (that was Rye, right?)...

Sunday, May 3, 2009 3:10 PM

^^I think if you add seat belts you can keep it at 36".

Sunday, May 3, 2009 10:12 PM

The Dragon Wagon (what they call that same ride at our local fair) had NO minimum height requirement this past summer for us -- I think it was 42" or ride with an older child. I let my littlest one, about 36", get in line for it with his older brother... and the ride operator said he was too little. I was not happy (and neither was he.) He'd been riding stuff all summer at the zoo and wanted to GO...

48" is crazy for that! I think our max was 52", so kids can only ride it one year?

Sunday, May 3, 2009 10:31 PM

MTR has no height requirements, only age ;)

Sunday, May 3, 2009 11:04 PM

Because of local laws, right Moosh?

Sunday, May 3, 2009 11:47 PM

The manufacturer sets the minimum requirements. The state,
park or underwriter can increase the restrictions. The only
way that it could be decreased is if the park and or it's 
underwriter is secure enough with their operating procedures
to not follow them. Doing this, however, legally absolves
Eli Bridge of all responisibilty in the event of an 
accident in which this requirement was an issue.
Some jurisdicitions, however, do not permit deviation 
from the manufacturers minimum requirements.

Monday, May 4, 2009 1:22 AM

Not to sound snotty, cause I'm not, but $1.25 is something you would typically find in your car if you looked hard enough. The economy is bad, just about everyone who doesn't **** gold is going through hard times, as I am myself. If I had children and I wanted to take them to a carnival then I would be prepared to pay out the ass, "money grubbing" height limit or not. When times are tough everyone nickel and dimes the other. Once upon a time I could seek for and find a gallon of gas for under 90 cents. Yes, the fair is trying to make an extra buck- most likely to compensate for their percieved loss of revenue, but nevertheless the point stands. I'm just as pissed off as you when I have to pay $10 more than I did 3 years ago to park my car for a White Sox game, and how the same parking spot I paid $10 for is now all of sudden $25 at SFGAm. Corporations are trying to protect their asses via the consumer, and in a way it's logical. Same goes for the carnies. It's up to you if you want to take a stand against that idea,

Not directed against you, crazy horse, Just saying...

Monday, May 4, 2009 10:21 AM

It has nothing to do with the economy. I have plenty of money to take my daughter, I know when I am being taken advantage of.

We went to the same fair last year and she was able to ride ALL the kiddie rides by herself, and now she can't?

It was $1.25 for ONE ticket, each kiddie ride took 3 tickets. And the parents had to ride with the kids(plus pay for themselfs also). It would have cost me $15 to take her on 2 rides.

If the fair was trying to make some money due to there loss of revenue, guess what......they just lost more revenue because I will not be going back. I am going to get her a season pass to cedarpoint and still will spend less than if I had bought tickets for the fair.

Monday, May 4, 2009 1:00 PM

BullGuy said:
If I had children and I wanted to take them to a carnival then I would be prepared to pay out the ass,

This is EXACTLY the person all the parks, carnivals, etc. are looking for...

Monday, May 4, 2009 1:21 PM

crazy horse said:
Phantom, Thats what I thought, but the scrambler for example is 36" to ride at michigans adventure(same state) but 48" to ride at the fair. It is also 36" at cedarpoint as well.

The official ride site recomends that be 48" tall to ride.


That is wrong, both Cedar Point and Michigan's Adventure follow the manufacturer's recommendations of at least 48" to ride alone and at least 36" to ride with an adult. Anyone under 36" cannot ride. See here for the CP ride page.

Monday, May 4, 2009 1:26 PM

Actually, at the fair you can not ride at all unless you are 48" tall with or without an adult.

At cp and michigans adventure, you CAN ride with an adult.

Monday, May 4, 2009 4:54 PM

I'm going to go back to the original question and try to give you something of an answer from there. Remember that the entire industry is trying to follow standards developed and published by ASTM, and most of the jurisdictional authorities are now basing their rules on the ASTM standards. So let's start with ASTM F 2291, which is the Design Standard...

F2291:5 stipulates that the ride manufacturer shall perform a ride analysis that shall include...(a) patron restraint and containment analysis...which shall specifically include an assessment of the suitability of the design of the amusement ride or device for the intended patrons, including anthropomorphic factors that relate age and physical size. Th(is) analysis shall identify the most significant factors that may affect (sic) patron safety and shall include mitigation for each factor.

An added complication found in F2291:6 is that there are special restraint requirements for kiddie rides (although "kiddie ride" is not defined) and there is a move afoot to also provide similar requirements for those rides which are not kiddie rides, but which are designed to accommodate riders under 48" in height. That isn't yet part of the standard (right now the standard says, "F 2291:6.4.2- Reserved") but certainly all of the major manufacturers are aware of it. In the not too distant future there may be a move to exclude riders under 48" tall from a whole class of rides just to avoid the special kiddie ride restraint requirements, although that is not yet part of the standard.

The most important part of this, for our purposes, is that F2291:5.5.3 says that the documentation supplied to the ride owner shall be complete and adequate for proper...operation of the amusement ride.... Which means that if the manufacturer established any rider requirements pursuant to the ride analysis required by F2291:5, those requirements must be passed along to the ride owner/operator. The operator, then, is bound by ASTM F 770, which is the Operations standard.

ASTM F 770:4 says that the owner/operator has to create a fact sheet on the ride which includes specific ride or device operation policies and procedures with pertinent information from the manufacturer's instructions. It also states that the operators should be given guidelines on the special considerations concerning patron size, and the special considerations applicable to physically disabled and mentally impaired patrons related to the particular ride or device.

So in a nutshell, the ride requirements are supposed to come ultimately from the manufacturer. There are cases where the manufacturer defers to the ride owner, and ultimately there is also the issue of the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ), which can make the final determination in some jurisdictions. The idea in the ASTM is that the ride analysis is the basis for all of the decisions made on things like rider requirements or restraint design, although the standard does make certain strong suggestions. The owner and the AHJ can kind of muck things up, though, if they have different ideas from the manufacturer, which is why we see such things as Jet Star coasters with seat belts and Break Dance cars with doors on them.

Someone brought up the Scrambler in an earlier message, using information from the Eli Bridge web site. I should also point out that Bulletin #060131-2, dated 1/31/2006, indicates that, 'All children 48" and under must be accompanied by a responsible adult. No children under 36" may ride unless seat belts have been installed." So if the Scrambler has seat belts, it doesn't actually have a minimum height requirement, but anyone under 48" must be accompanied by a responsible adult. And now I am having really bad flashbacks to really long meetings in which this whole 'supervising companion' thing has been argued to death.......!

--Dave Althoff, Jr.


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