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Insider's Update: Time for a safety check

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Published: July 9, 2014 at 10:39 AM

Let's start with some unfortunate news: a teenager from Iceland died Monday after falling from the Inferno roller coaster at Terra Mitica in Spain. The ride, a 2007 Intamin ZacSpin, is closed pending the results of a police investigation, which appear to be focusing on a failure with the seat harness (which could mean a wide variety of things, by the way, including mechanical failure, a design failure, an operation failure to close or check it, or a rider finding a way out of it). If you are curious about tis particular model of roller coaster, Green Lantern: First Flight at Six Flags Magic Mountain is the only ZacSpin model in the United States.

Magic Mountain suffered its own coaster accident this week, though with far less severe results. A tree fell onto the track of the park's Ninja, a 1998 Arrow suspended coaster. The blockage forced a train to derail, stranding riders for more than an hour as a fire department rescue crew was called to the scene. Four riders were treated for minor injuries. The ride remains closed while Cal/OSHA investigates, and the state agency is bringing in an arborist to check out the tree. If only the state could order Magic Mountain's trees to move away from the rides to line the more of the pathways throughout the park, instead, where more shade is always welcomed.

While we're on the topic of theme park safety, for marine mammals, it's generally safer to live in a theme park than out in the wild. That's the conclusion of an Associated Press report looking at the lifespan of marine mammals at SeaWorld versus at other marine parks and zoos and in the wild. The life expectancy of dolphins and sea otters at SeaWorld exceeded that of those animals in the wild. The life expectancy of beluga whales at SeaWorld exceeded the industry average for belugas in captivity, and was within the range of estimated life expectancy of wild belugas. The survival rate of SeaWorld's orcas was the same as the industry's, though comparing life expectancies with wild orcas is tough, as the estimate is that wild orcas live to be to around 49 and SeaWorld's only had orcas for 48 years. (Its oldest surviving orca, Corky from SeaWorld San Diego, is thought to be 47 years old.)

Corky
Theme Park Insider editor Robert Niles, with Corky

Of course, this won't satisfy the anti-animal-captivity crowd, which would rather see animals die than live in anything other than what those activists consider the "proper" environment. (PETA's policy is to kill stray animals rather than allow them to be adopted, as the group opposes the keeping of animals as pets.)

Speaking of animal parks, Disney reports that its research shows that there's no one time of day better than another for seeing animals in the park, based upon observations of animals at Disney' Animal Kingdom. So there ya go.

Rhino

Back in California, Disneyland's opening its new Legends of Frontierland: Gold Rush! interactive experience today, where guests can role-play Disneyland's Old West like it's a RenFaire. Neighbor Knott's Berry Farm responded to that this week with its own cheeky tweet:


Speaking of Twitter attitude, check out this offer from Cedar Point to current Miami Heat and former Cleveland Cavaliers NBA All-Star LeBron James:



We've thrown open a discussion asking which coaster should get the new name, if needed.

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Readers' Opinions

From Gabriel Schroll on July 9, 2014 at 9:34 PM
Too bad the roller coaster "King Cobra" was at King's Island, as it'd be easy to rename it "King James". Or maybe they could have renamed Son of Beast "Royal Pain".

I rarely go to Sea World, but when I do, I really enjoy just watching the sea mammals. They are amazing creatures and I'm glad to hear they have solid life expectancies. One never really knows what goes on at a park like that behind the scenes, but I believe they're treated well.

I saw an elephant poop at Animal Kingdom. It was one of the funnies things I've ever seen!

From Eric Orlando on July 10, 2014 at 5:22 AM
I'm sorry but all I can do is laugh at the Disney story. I really am LOL right now. This is from the end of the article.

Conclusion (and myth busted): Time of day does not significantly change the probability of spotting animals.

What a non story. Yes that conclusion is correct. Time of day will not affect your probability of seeing an animal. Time of day will however affect your chances of seeing the animals in a much better mood. Early in the morning or later in the evening the animals are much more active.

This is either thinly veiled marketing that didn't understand what the talk was about or Disney trying to spin it and change what was being discussed. Given Disney these days, I would say the latter.

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