As amusement park season approaches, let us take a moment to ruminate on all the many things that could go horrifically wrong with carnival rides great and small. There was that time in 2007, when a rogue cord on a Six Flags free-fall attraction tragically severed a 16-year-old's feet at the ankles. There was that time at the Ohio State Fair in 2017, when a Fire Ball ride came apart in mid-air, jettisoning a passenger to his death. And then there was that time last week, when a New Jersey roller coast flung two test dummies out of their seats and into the roof of a nearby hotel.
That last incident, of course, did not involve actual humans, but it fails to inspire confidence in the larger theme park enterprise nonetheless.
NBC Philadelphia reports that the GaleForce roller coaster at Playland Castaway Cove in Ocean City underwent a routine safety inspection on April 20th. Everything seemed copacetic until a pair of the test dummies fell from the ride and hit the neighboring the Ebb Tide Suites, taking shingles off the roof and compromising the plywood.
No one sustained injuries during the SNAFU, and furthermore, the park's vice president, Brian Hartley, does not expect that real people would meet the same fate as their plastic stand-ins. Describing the accident as an "unfortunate situation," Hartley told NBC Philadelphia that the ride itself hadn't failed. Rather, the dummies had leaks that caused them to lose their water mass, such that they slipped out from under the safety bar.
"It's an inflatable water tube, just like an inflatable raft you would use," he told the Press of Atlantic City. Usually, a filled simulation human would weigh about 150 pounds, but this time, "There was a hole in the [dummy] so when it deflated obviously it shrunk down to a very small size as the water leaked out—and it came out of the harness."
The ride, according to NBC, remains "100 percent safe" and has been operational since the hiccup. The park tests the roller coaster for roughly two hours every day that it's open, but Hartley admitted they should probably spend a little more time testing those dummies. Still, real, live riders don't have a tendency to spontaneously deflate, so Hartley emphasized that they'll probably be fine. Just make yourself as big as possible for the duration of your GaleForce experience!
"Obviously it's not something that would ever happen with a person in it," he told NBC. "You don't lose rigidity in a person. The lap bar comes down. You're secured in there."
It's also obviously not something that would ever happen here, the whole human-comes-careening-out-of-roller-coaster-seat-at-curve-in-track thing, because Coney Island's famously rickety giant—the Cyclone, a wooden nonagenarian Sandy survivor subject to not-infrequent breakdowns—is totally safe and definitely not rotting away as we speak. The most recent Cyclone death occurred in 2007, over a decade ago—it's only gotten older and therefore sturdier (?!) since then.