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Robert Niles
Editor

Employee injury closes Dueling Dragons at Universal Orlando

Published: July 1, 2009 at 12:17 PM

A worker was injured at the Dueling Dragons roller coasters at Universal's Islands of Adventure before the park opened this morning. One report said the worker was struck by one of the cars, presumably on a morning test run.

The area around Dueling Dragons is a swarm of activity these days, as construction proceeds on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The Dragons coasters are rumored to close this fall to be rethemed as part of the new Harry Potter land.

If any Universal insiders have additional details, please post them in the comments.

Update: The Sentinel updates with quotes from Universal spokesperson Tom Schroder: "It's too soon to share more information," Schroder told the paper. "We're doing everything we can to support our team member and his family."

"Our ride is safe," Schroder said in the story. "What happened this morning had nothing to do with the safety of the ride experience."

Replies (10)

Robert Niles
Editor

Published: July 1, 2009 at 1:00 PM

Reading between the lines, Schroder's quotes jibe with the earlier report that the employee was struck by a car. No malfunction of the ride, just a person in a place where s/he should not have been.

If that's true, the lack of information about the employee's condition is doubly troubling.

Frank Lukasik

Published: July 1, 2009 at 1:56 PM

As a former Lead Technician at Dueling Dragons, I knew this man who was hit by the 20,000 pound roller coaster while doing a “routine” inspection of the foundations. These are the concrete anchors that hold the structure into the earth. The 911 call said he was “unresponsive” at the time. If he was hit full-frontal by the train, he was launched many feet and probably died. No crumple zones on coasters! The 911 operator mentions that he was hit in the head, so hopefully he was nicked by a fiberglass or rubber tooth or claw that protrude from the bottom of the coaster. The reason there is so much media “hype” at the major theme parks, is that they are not required by law to release ANY info about injuries or deaths that occur on property, so the media feel lucky to get whatever they can. Their squeaky clean safety records are a sham. The maintenance techs, who work at night, are not even subjected to a pre-employment drug screening before hiring. Several employees have recently been fired for using drugs ON the job!
I am writing this as a former employee of 13 years who was terminated for using a licensed firearm to defend myself from an attacker while on vacation, 12 miles from Universal. They cited the reason as “conduct which may or may not bring negative publicity to Universal Orlando”, and that my “actions could affect the safety of guests or fellow employees”. I’ve tried for three years to get them to tell me what “conduct” or “actions” jeopardized fellow employees’ safety, or that of the guests, but nobody will tell me! I was acquitted for self-defense, but Universal never gave me a chance to wait for the outcome! They even went so far as to attempt to deny me workers’ compensation due to “WORKPLACE MISCONDUCT”! I won that on appeal from Unemployment. Universal didn’t even dare show up for the arbitration! So, naturally I have a bit of an axe to grind with them, so I will release any information I find on safety issues that they try to cover up. I would not report rumors, just facts, as I feel the public have a right to know. I still use the email address dragonfixer@cfl.rr.com since I’ve had it for so long! The technician’s name is Douglas Babcock, so please keep him in your prayers if you will.
4.36.109.30

Published: July 2, 2009 at 5:10 AM

Frank,
You are clearly a bitter employee with an ax to grind with Universal. Using this employee's injury to trash talk the company that fired you is in poor taste. Go rant somewhere else.
Kelly Smith

Published: July 2, 2009 at 10:22 AM

Also, Frank... the news article I read said you met up with a man in order to fight with him, then shot at him during the fight. I'm not saying it wasn't self-defense, but it doesn't strike me as responsible conduct, either.
brian lochridge

Published: July 2, 2009 at 3:06 PM

It's called being a coward. Really, you brought a gun to a fight? Sorry but thats not self defense.
97.101.55.45

Published: July 3, 2009 at 1:28 AM

I love how you believe the story about Frank that you read on the internet (since everything on the internet is true). This guy was recently terminated from Universal yet he still vouches for the safety of their rides and asks to keep the technician in your prayers. If you have something to comment regarding that then please share but this is not a Frank bashing post. Neither Walt Disney World or Universal does any kind of drug screening simply for the fact that their combined employee turnover rate is probably one of the highest in the world, so I don't doubt his statement about the overnight guys. Since everyone else is being a Debbie Downer let me just say that I appreciate the info Frank. I heard this from a Universal manager that has been with the company for seven years and still had a limited story. Universal is trying to keep the details of this incident as hush-hush as possible.
68.18.16.117

Published: July 3, 2009 at 8:38 AM

Not that anonymous then Frank

http://www.wftv.com/news/19930253/detail.html

10/4

Terry Smith

Published: July 3, 2009 at 9:28 AM

CDF is a nice restaurant, but it isn't even the best restaurant in the World Showcase. That honor belongs to Le Cellier. Still, CDF must have some fans, and I guess they all joined the voting this year.
Brandon Mendoza

Published: July 3, 2009 at 12:37 PM

The only thing I really have to add without getting into this too much is that Drug Screening is expensive, but I think it should be necessary for certain positions where Guest safety could be compromised. Maintenance, ride operators, etc. Not so much food service, retail, or even costumed characters. If anything, they'll hurt themselves more than Guests. Costumed characters are actually more of a toss up for me.

Sad to hear that anyone gets hurt anywhere, but especially in a theme park.

Larry Zimmerman

Published: July 3, 2009 at 12:57 PM

Lock-outs, loud buzzers, PA announcements, and someone still was in the danger zone when the coaster was started? 0-o! Sounds like major safety procedures were being ignored. If they ignore the majors, how many minors are going ignored as well...?

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