Worrying About the Changing Times

Saturday, July 12, 2003 6:58 PM
After watching a coaster special on the Travel Channel the other night, I was thinking about the clips I saw of early amusement parks. The old footage showed many dangerous, risky rides. I researched a bit and found that injuries and deaths were signifigantly higher than today's standards. Of course this makes perfect sense...but the next part doesn't---When death tolls were higher...people flocked to these attractions, no one really complained or made a humongous fuss over it.

The point I am trying to make here is that nowadays, our safety standards are much, much higher than the early years of amusement parks. Rarely anyone dies because of the rides, and they are so much more built with safety in mind. What I can't understand is that when someone does die/get hurt..everyone goes crazy. Everyone has probably heard about the article in "popular mechanics" (PLEASE hold back all jokes about you-know-who) recently and all the bad hype these past years about how dangerous these "Terror rides" can be. I am worried that so many people don't realize that coasters and other rides are much safer than what they used to be, and the amusement park industry is taking a big hit because of it.

When did everyone start making a relaxing day out to the park turn out to be a day full of hazard and fear?

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RollerCoasters aren't my whole life... they just make my life whole

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Saturday, July 12, 2003 7:02 PM
I think it stems from the fact that everyone expects the parks & their rides to be 100% safe at all times,when in fact no matter how safe the rides get there always remains the possibility for something to go wrong.
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Saturday, July 12, 2003 7:03 PM
From the PM article it stated that 52 people had died from Amusement park rides since 1987. So roughly 3.25 people a year. That compared to people killing themselves from paper cuts and what not is not bad. In fact people are more likely to die taking a crap then they are to die at an amusement park.

I know you said to not take any cheap shots at the author of the article, but Paul Ruben is biggest joke in this industry that I know of. All I can say is that he rates right up there with Markey in people that I dislike immensely (notice I did not say hate).

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SW:):)SH Shaddy(president of LEMCCDWBLI)
MidwestInfoGuide.COM

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Sunday, July 13, 2003 10:28 AM
liz,

What it boils down to, IMHO, is that nowadays people expect everything to be perfect because of better knowledge of human physiology, combined with the "infallibility" (yeah right - tell me another joke) of computer modeling.

Back then, they knew nothing of safety limits and detailed electronic modeling to make things safer. People died frequently when products, that now would be deemed unsafe, malfunctioned. So if something DID go wrong, it wasn't that big of a suprise and people were able to deal with it...

But that is just my opinion, YMMV....

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--George H
---Currency tracking experiment... http://www.wheresgeorge.com (Referring to The "George" on the $1 bill - Not Me)

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Sunday, July 13, 2003 10:39 AM
Society also has an interesting predeliction toward finding someone else to blame for their problems.

Personal responsibility has shifted away from "personal," really, and in the past, someone might take responsibility for getting on board a ride, dangerous or not. Instead, it's easier for us to try to give complete control of our actions, and the consequences of those actions, to someone else.

Paul Ruben seems like an attention whore and nothing more. I'm sure he's ignored by most. While the negative press may be having a negative impact on parks, I don't think it's that significant. If it was, I think the parks would be more proactive in public relations and marketing that suggests the park and its rides are safe, fun diversions.
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--Maddie--
What do I Listen-To?
May the Schwarz be with you.

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Sunday, July 13, 2003 12:29 PM
When lawyers can sue Nabisco and McDonalds for making people fat...our legal system has gotten out of control. Same goes for amusement parks. Everyone is looking for the opportunity to sue...doesn't matter what or who is at fault.
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Sunday, July 13, 2003 1:31 PM
When I drive to the East Coast, it makes it hard for me to get my days and nights straight. So yeah, I do worry about changing times. ;>)

Like a few others have said, I think it's the amount of sue-happy people in the world today that do not take responsibility for their own actions that cause the current "safety concerns."

--Ryan

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"I don't like anyone's balls to roll..." - Koaster King

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Sunday, July 13, 2003 2:22 PM
It's interesting that you should bring this up. A couple of days ago my friends daughter was at a small park and after riding a simple swing type ride the restraint fell and hit her on the forehead as she was getting off of the ride. It took a couple of Butterflys to patch her up but the park employees practically fell over themselves trying to make sure she was ok(along with some actions that seemed to indicate that they knew there was a problem with a latching system). Now my frind isn't going to sue but at the same time should the park be held responsible for any medical care if it permanently scars this girl and she needs plastic surgery to fix it?
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Sunday, July 13, 2003 2:37 PM
I think you're right LnR! Just a minute ago it was 5:33! What are we ever going to do?

People change, and so does media, and law, and well....everything! You can only expect things to be different than in the 20's. I'd be a little freaked if they weren't.

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ALL NEW COASTER SITE!
www.coasterinsomniacs.com

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Sunday, July 13, 2003 3:32 PM

In fact people are more likely to die taking a crap then they are to die at an amusement park.

Brilliant! Coasters don't kill people, White Castles kill people!

--Ryan

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"I don't like anyone's balls to roll..." - Koaster King

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Sunday, July 13, 2003 4:07 PM
Ahh! I can see it now! "White Castle: the Ride....at a Six Flags park near you!"

Then CP follows up with "Taco Bell: The Ride!"

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ALL NEW COASTER SITE!
www.coasterinsomniacs.com

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Sunday, July 13, 2003 5:38 PM
DawgByte II's avatar ...because they cancelled Pee-Wee's Playhouse & he was horrible in the movie "Mystery Men".... that's why I dislike him!
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Sunday, July 13, 2003 5:42 PM
I'm not really that concerned with people reacting to coaster injuries and such. I honestly think that there are far more important things to worry about in the world right now. Maybe I haven't been paying that much attention (which I haven't too much), but I don't remember that the recent Six Flags New Orleans incident got that much attention. I think that there are things more important than coaster injuries right now.
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Sunday, July 13, 2003 5:44 PM
......and he also got caught trying to give his naughty parts a massage in some porno theater. Geez, at least he'd have the common courtesy to not get caught. Sheesh.


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"That's DOCTOR Evil. I didn't spend six years in evil medical school to be called 'Mr. Thank You Very Much.'"

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Sunday, July 13, 2003 5:59 PM
I'm hoping someone with some real knowlegde of law can jump in here, as I'm struggling to explain this, and it may even be completely wrong, but I'll try anyway.

1-I would imagine some (most?) of today's safety standards exist because of litigation against parks.

2-With more and more safety standards in place, parks takes on more and more responsibility for guests' safety. As a result, guests are WAY safer on rides than ever before, but when an incident occurs, lawsuits happen for two reasons:

a) the park clearly did not meet an established safety standard (failed to meet the standard of care?)

b) even though the park is not at fault as in (a), there is potential for the park to be somehow found responsible, in which case, new safety standards are created.

And while safety standards are a good thing for all of us, their presence leads us to believe more and more that the park is responsible for our safety. We know of course, that this isn't always the case, but it's human nature to want someone else to be responsible for accident or injury. And sometimes, it is the fault of the park/ride manufacturer, and the case investigation and lawsuit drive positive changes in safety standards.

P.S. Yikes, I'm not sure this has made any sense, but I've been working on it for about 40 minutes and I feel the need to let you all read it. I took one law class in college and it absolutely made my head spin, in a good way. Probably the most satisfying B of my academic career, because I really had to work for even the B. The end.

Edit: only in America, does someone think, hey, all this stuff I said doesn't make sense, but what the hell? I'll put it out there for everyone to see anyway. ;)
*** This post was edited by dawnmarie313 7/13/2003 10:06:46 PM ***
*** This post was edited by dawnmarie313 7/13/2003 11:16:33 PM ***

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Sunday, July 13, 2003 6:02 PM
The insurance companies might have something to do with it too. Just like everything else.

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"That's DOCTOR Evil. I didn't spend six years in evil medical school to be called 'Mr. Thank You Very Much.'"

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Sunday, July 13, 2003 6:04 PM

dawn marie- that was very informatve...yes it makes sense...that does clear up things a bit :)
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RollerCoasters aren't my whole life... they just make my life whole
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Sunday, July 13, 2003 6:29 PM
I read somewhere your more likely to be killed by a billiard than a coaster...

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"If we knew how safe roller coasters were, we'd lose their thrill" - Daniel Keller

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Sunday, July 13, 2003 8:12 PM
I can't help but think the media has a lot to do with it. People watch TV religiously and the images can be graphic. In the by gone days before television, people would tend to go to the park where the accident happened. Since they would of only read or hear about it, they would want to go see for themselves what, where, and how. Kind of along the sick line of human nature that says when someone threatens to jump off a building, a crowd will gather below to see if they will actually jump. Some people will actually cheer them to do it.

Anyway, this is why I think years ago if one bad accident happened, people would flock to the scene. Nowadays, we can sit in our living rooms and watch all the action.

Wood - anything else is an imitation

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Sunday, July 13, 2003 8:35 PM
l. As was mentioned, this whole society has evolved a habit of externalizing blame for everything. Nobody takes any responsibility for their own actions. Somebody spills hot coffee on themselves, it's McDonalds fault. They smoke and get cancer, it's Phillip Morris' fault. They get drunk in a bar and have an accident, it's the bartender's fault. They roller skate down the sidewalk and fall over a crack, it's the city's fault. So it should come as no surprise they blame parks.

2. Of all nations, America has the most lawyers per person. The truth is, we have too many. Most lawyers do not make that great a living because there is not enough work to go around. So you have lawyers chasing possible lawsuits. Over 30 years, they have managed to convince everyone that suing someone is appropriate whenever any injury is incurred. So someone gets hurt at a park, there must be a lawsuit lurking.

3. The media are trying to fill more time and space with news than there is news. Does anyone really believe the evening news needs to last from 5-7 pm? That a daily newspaper needs to be over 100 pages long? Of course not. But the media are out there looking for something to fill that need. So any little incident gets blown out of proportion locally, then picked up nationally. If you doubt this, watch how many times the weather is repeated on a typical tv news show. Amusement rides are photogenic, someone getting hurt on one is unique, and the event is easily covered. Remember in this country the media determine most people's reality for them. Coverage can make a few isolated incidents look like a trend.

4. Amusement park executives may be making a mistake. It's a hard judgement. They have chosen to ignore the problem as much as possible to avoid giving it even more publicity. Perhaps they should produce their own program to rebut all the claims and innuendos. But most parks do not want to get involved if they don't have an incident, and when they do, they just want the attention to quiet down as quickly as possible. So we rarely hear the parks' side of all this. It's like a public figure declining to defend his side when accused. He's being advised to keep quiet. So are parks.

5. Everybody thinks they're an expert. What's so hard to understand about roller coasters or any other ride? Any high school student who rides them a few times knows how they work. Right? So a few people spout off a few statements and the general public builds the story from there. You can sometimes see this happening on these boards, and people here are more knowledgeable than most. So reporters, accident victims and everybody else contribute to disinformation.

6. The public perception is that amusement parks are all fabulously wealthy. Everybody knows how much money these rides cost, and these places have dozens of them. Everybody knows how many people come to parks, and how much admissions cost. The places must be rich. As one executive told me not long ago, "Lawyers go where the deepest pockets are. They sue us because they think we have the money and we'll settle out of court rather than spend the money to fight."

These reasons plus others mentioned by earlier posts all feed into the perception. As parks get bigger and rides push the envelopes more, it will get worse.

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