In most theme parks around the world you will signs as you approach the thrill rides requesting that you do not take bags and loose items onto the ride with you. Lockers and bag rooms are provided to store your things before you ride and these are often free of very low cost options. Sadly many guests ignore these instructions because they do not understand the implications of what they are doing and the results can be rather unfortunate. Having worked in a theme park for several years I know exactly what can happen when loose items are taken onto rides and it is not funny!
Many guests like to film their ride experience and I can totally understand this but it is actually a really bad idea to attempt to do such a thing. Cameras and mobile phones, even when secured by a strap, can fly off due to the forces of the ride and strike the owner or other guests causing serious injury. If you attempt to just hold the device any unexpected movement on the ride can cause you to lose concentration and your grip on the equipment and if you let go not only do you run the risk of hurting someone, you are also unlikely to recover your equipment in one piece if at all.
Any articles taken on to a ride which are not secured in a zipped pocket are likely to be lost during the cycle particularly on rides which invert or are launched with great force. Such items can fly around and hit other riders and are often smashed as they fall when they hit the structure of the ride or the ground. Trust me a mobile phone falling 200 feet onto concrete is not going to be a pretty sight if you ever see it again.
Loose items also present a risk to the ride as they can land in front of sensors which are there to detect the position of the ride cars and this usually results in a coaster shutting itself down causing delays to the guests in the queue. I personally have had attractions shut down on me because of a tobacco tin which landed in front of a sensor on a launch coaster and due to a coke bottle tripping a safety sensor on a water ride. Items can also fall onto tracks presenting the possibility of derailment or the slowing of a ride car to the extent that it does not make it up the next hill and becomes trapped mid-circuit. This will often require the use of a lorry or crane to pull the car around the circuit and the guests being extracted by the emergency services. It sounds crazy but it happens!
Another issue with loose articles is their recovery. If an item is lost, it generally falls into the ride area which is a very dangerous place for a person to be when a ride is operational. Occasionally foolish guests will attempt to recover their possessions from restricted areas which will result in the necessity to activate the emergency stop function of the ride. This is to save the guests from the possibility of being hit by the ride cars or debris flying off other guests. Articles can only safely be recovered when the ride is shut down which parks will generally only do at the end of the day in order not to inconvenience queuing riders. If you lose your articles on a ride you are mostly likely in for a long wait to get them back. You will also find yourself unpopular with the staff whose working day will be extended whilst they look for your things!
I have personally recovered a fabulous array of valuables from ride areas after guests have lost them on their journey. Mobile phones, cameras, jewellery and sunglasses are the most common things but I have also had to retrieve some more interesting pieces. These have included a Rolex Watch, a other timepieces (yes watches can fly off due to the forces of a ride), an iPad (what were they thinking?) and a pair of false teeth! I should also mention the artificial arm I had to retrieve from underneath a coaster and the glass eye (smashed) which was recovered by one of colleagues from underneath the first drop of another ride.
If you don’t want to ruin your day and quite possibly everyone else’s don’t take anything onto a thrill ride with you unless it is in a zipped pocket. If there is any chance at all that something could fly off your person, including prosthetic limbs, teeth, spectacles and glass eyes, don’t ride with them!
Article by Sally Stacey