Looking for answers when theme park rides fail
Okay, this story is getting bizarre.
Last week in the news round-up, I linked to the story from China about an accident at a space-themed centrifuge ride that claimed the lives of six theme park visitors. This week, Chinese authorities have "detained" 11 park maintenance and operations workers, as part of the investigation.
I don't know what, specifically, is meant by "detained" in China - whether that means simply that the workers were held for a few hours for questioning, or that they are being jailed until the investigation's complete. Nor is the Shanghai news report clear on exactly which authorities were doing the detaining.
The investigation has ruled out sabotage, and now is focusing on a mechanical failure. I've not been to China and, obviously, never been on this ride. But from the reported descriptions, it sounds something like Epcot's Mission: Space, a spinning space-themed ride where visitors ride in separate capsules. Apparently, something broke on the Chinese ride, one unit stopped and others crashed into it, ejecting some riders and crushing others. Horrible.
It's hard for me to imagine how a modern amusement ride could fail so spectacularly and tragically, not with the industry knowledge that is available on how to run such a ride safely, and reliably so. Since this ride did fail, it appears that somewhere along the line, either that knowledge either wasn't passed along to the people in position to implement it or the commitment to implement that knowledge was not instilled among enough of this park's employees. Ultimately, those are management failures, too.
Wondering if the workers don't take the safety percautions seriously, as in they think that since technology has come so far, they really don't have to be so cautious because they think the ride is built flawlessly, but we are human and NOTHING is perfect. Boredom as in if the workers inspect the ride each morning before opening they have to do the full inspection, but after doing that for many years and not finding a problem that could result in laziness, as in half fast inspections assuming "well this part works which usually means that the rest will work" and missing a small problem that will eventually become a big problem. I am just thinking that this is the case for some employees the china park and not every park in the world. I am sorry if this doesn't make sense.
Maybe I am the only one that read it as this, but Mission Space did NOT crash, but rather the ride in China.
So often you hear on the news about bribbery, corruption, etc. in China. Poisons added to pet food products; their mine safety record is among the worst in the world. Remember the old joke about a shipment of lead from China being reject at an American port because it was found to be contaminated with toys? Remember the earthquake just before the Beijing Olympics? There is an entire city- not building, but city- walled off because the entire city collapsed and so many thousands died they could never get them all out. The buildings were built so shodily, so sub-standard because their inspectors either didn't do their jobs or were paid enough that they wouldn't do their jobs. Am I saying that poor inspection practices definitely caused this tragedy? No. Will I be surprised if they find out that it was caused by poor maintenance and/or poor inspection practices? No.
I got the impression from the sketchy news reports that the whole centrifuge tipped over and capsules successively smashed into the ground as it came to a stop. It was also reported that this is the park's only ride that was built by local Chinese vendors. All the others were made by international ride manufacturers.
Updated explanation from this morning's news: "A new breakthrough in the investigation of last week’s deadly theme park accident in Shenzhen reveals that one of the ride’s four-person compartments broke off from the ride’s axis at high-speed and smashed to the ground before being struck by three of the other carts. The information is the first official word as to the cause of the stunning crash that had baffled experts."
Either way Steve, even if compartments breaking off from the centrifuge-like ride is fairly common... this incident was not.
I would never ride a centrifuge unless it is from Disney or Universal. Much less if it is in China (unless if it were located in Disneyland Hong Kong).
Un fair that the maintanence workers were or are detained. a very bizzar accident Iam not making any judgments against anyone or playing the blame game. they need to actualy DETERMINE WHAT CAUSED IT BEFORE I BLAME ANYONE. hope they find the cause
Before anyone starts worrying about 'Mission Space', just take a look at the way that ride is built. I love that particular ride and don't hesitate when I get the chance.
Having been to China many times for work and having visited several amusement parks and zoos throughout the country I can definitely attest to the fact that the institutional culture there is much different than it is in western parks. Safety generally takes a back seat to the bottom line and catastrophic failures are accepted as part of the cost of doing business. There isn't a lot of corporate responsibility with things like amusement park rides and it's generally considered that the riders are taking an inherent risk in riding.
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