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Mild accident reminds parents of importance of theme park safety

2006-06-20

By Robert Niles: A 4-year-old girl suffered foot injuries on Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster at Universal Studios Florida yesterday. It was the sort of accident that's too common with young kids at theme parks, and a reminder to parents to be extra vigilant with your kids on and around theme park rides.

The girl's foot became wedged between the coaster and load platform when she was getting off the ride. Little feet can find their ways into the smallest of spaces. (Trust me on this. I wouldn't go on an escalator for years after my foot got caught in one at the Topanga Plaza mall when I was 5.) From the anecdotal evidence we've collected here at Theme Park Insider, kids are at greatest risk on theme park rides when they are getting on or off the ride vehicle. And especially when they are exiting, as the trepidation of getting on a new ride's been replaced by the carefree exhilaration of having ridden it.

So please take a look at our theme park safety tips. And parents, do not hestitate to just pick up and carry your small kids onto and off theme park ride vehicles. I'm happy to hear that the girl will be okay. [BTW, to our friends at the Sentinel, you needed eight staff writers to cover this? ;-) Was someone from Trib corporate visiting, so everyone wanted to get out of the office?] And that the ride checked out and is reopened today. Let's all do what we can to keep our kids safe at the parks this summer.

Readers' Opinions

From Gareth H on June 20, 2006 at 10:36 AM
It is a shame that for that family a vacation was turned into a nightmare. But the girl is old enought to get over it quickly, and for the rest of us its a lesson learned.

As far as eight staff reporting on this?? Thats ridiculous! Slow news week for them?

From Robert Niles on June 20, 2006 at 10:47 AM
Well, to be fair, having gone on my share of newsroom goose chases in the past, editors decide staffing based on *a report* of a story, and not what the story turns out to be. ('Cause there's no way to tell at that point.)

But eight staff credits on an unbylined story is one of those, um, rather unusual situations that journalists like to tease one another about.

From Erik Yates on June 21, 2006 at 1:10 PM
Eight is enough, and very funny that a report would have that many people. As you said slow news day. At least disney fans arent calling for the coaster to be shut down. Robert, you are 100% right. You have to be very cautious with small children at theme parks. I dont know how many times I've seen small children hurt in queue lines, let alone the rides themselves. It comes down to, and I hate to say it, parents not paying attention to what their children are doing. Something like that can be easily avoided by something as simple as you getting on and off of a coaster, or other ride first. Many people see me doing that and interpret it as me being a bigger kid than my kid! (which is true in its own right) However, the main reason for it is so that you can help your child on and off the vehicle by simply giving them a little pull in and out. Again, glad to hear the girl is okay.
From Gareth H on June 21, 2006 at 4:40 PM
This actually reminds me of the film "Mallrats".
Main actors walking up the escalator and a kid, with her parents, is travelling down it. He comments that the parents should be paying more attention as the kid is sitting down on it. Next thing you hear is that the kid gets trapped. Its sad, but these things happen just from losing attention for a split second.

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