Safely rollin’ into summer

By Madeline Hippeard
Jambar Contributor

With summer quickly approaching, many people have planned trips to amusement parks. Despite their popularity, some hesitate to visit because of safety concerns. 

For Ohioans, Cedar Point in Sandusky is a popular amusement park, home to several award-winning roller coasters, such as Steel Vengeance and Millenium Force. According to Cedar Fair’s website, the coasters were ranked No. 2 and No. 4, respectively, in Amusement Today’s annual Golden Ticket Awards in 2023.

In 2021, one of the park’s most popular coasters, Top Thrill Dragster, was shut down after a woman was hospitalized after being struck in the head by a bracket on one of the ride’s trains. According to News 5 Cleveland, Cedar Point settled a lawsuit with the woman.

While the accident has caused concerns to rise over the safety amusement park rides, Tony Clark, Cedar Point’s director of Communications, said guest safety is every park’s number one priority.

“We take it very seriously. Each year, the state of Ohio’s Department of Agriculture also inspects our attractions and provides an official license to operate,” Clark said. “They return throughout the year for additional pop-up inspections and check-ups.”

Alongside annual state inspection, Clark said a maintenance team thoroughly inspects all rides each day. This inspection ensures that all wheels, seats, seatbelts and ride structures are safe and ready for guests to enjoy throughout the day.

Ride operators also perform daily tests and checks to ensure all ride safety systems are working properly.

Safety systems have sensors to monitor all aspects of a ride. Clark said if the system notices abnormalities in operations, it will safely stop the ride. Once the ride is stopped, maintenance teams will look at the system to diagnose and fix any issues they may find. After that, the ride will reopen for guests to enjoy.

At Cedar Point, Clark said all employees are trained to handle situations where rides may shut down.

“Our entire team goes through extensive training for all situations from minor ride shut-downs to ride evacuations, thunderstorms and more,” Clark said. “This training happens throughout the year, including comprehensive ‘tabletop’ exercises where we practice these types of scenarios.”

One way guests can take responsibility at theme parks is to read signs with rider safety information outside of any attraction they wish to ride. These signs tell riders what they should know before entering the wait queue, such as height requirements, loose article policies, intensity levels and who should not ride based on medical conditions.

Sophomore civil engineering technology major Xavier Comer, who has held a Cedar Point season pass for two years, said he believes amusement parks are safe.

“Roller coasters have been around for such a long time. The ride systems and the restraints have been engineered and tested and gone through so many changes over the years. There are so little incidents that are due to solely the ride and not because of the people riding it,” Comer said.

Comer also said it’s just as important for theme park visitors to follow ride safety guidelines as it is for the park to perform regular safety checks.

“The vast majority of ride incidences are because of the person riding it not following safety guidelines or not taking into consideration pre-existing medical conditions that may pose a risk — not because of poor engineering or poor safety measures,” Comer said.

Besides following theme park rules, visitors can keep themselves safe in such simple ways as wearing sunscreen, staying hydrated and making sure they eat throughout the day.

To make the most out of a day at an amusement park, Clark suggests visitors review that park’s website to familiarize themselves with what each has to offer. Many parks also have mobile apps visitors can download on their phones to view maps, wait times, dining options and live entertainment show times.