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Say Goodbye to the Lap Bar

The ubiquitous theme park safety restraint won't be around much longer, if theme park lawyers and engineers get their way. And they should.

From Robert Niles
Posted August 25, 2002 at 2:16 PM
Say goodbye to the lap bar.

The ubiquitous theme park safety restraint won't be around much longer, if theme park lawyers and engineers get their way. And they should. The one-size-fits-all lap bar never did, putting smaller riders at risk when they shared a lap bar with larger riders.

The latest strike against the lap bar? California investigators have ordered Six Flags Marine World in Vallejo, Calif. to make changes on its notorious Star Fish ride. (The folks at the Vallejo News sent me a link to this article they wrote about the state’s decision.)

We've reported in accidents at this ride before—the latest incident was similar to the incident on Disneyland’s Roger Rabbit ride that prompted the state to make it the first shut down under California's new theme park safety law.

In both cases, centrifugal forces from a spinning car threw a small child from the seat they were sharing with an adult rider. The lap bar that was supposed the hold the two in place couldn’t keep the smaller rider in because it lowered only to higher waist level of the larger rider. The smaller rider then just slipped underneath the bar, and out of the vehicle.

The Roger Rabbit incident ended up costing Disney more than $30 million in direct costs to the family of the young boy who was left with brain injuries and permanent disabilities. Not to mention the substantial unknown cost of bad publicity and lost ticket sales. At Marine World, another person who was injured in a previous incident on Star Fish is suing the park.

The short-term solution to incidents like those on Star Fish and Roger Rabbit is always to sit the smaller rider on the inside of the seat bench, away from the opening through which riders enter. But even that approach won't protect smaller riders in every case.

Long term, the only solution is to do away with one-size-fits-all restraints like bench lap bars and install individual restraints. Seat belts, harnesses and individual lap bars can be adjusted to provide the appropriate restraint for a variety of riders. No matter whom they are sitting next to.

Given the huge amounts of money at stake, company lawyers won't be satisfied with short-term, make-do solutions much larger. Nor should they. The theme park industry knows what it must do to protect its customers safety. And that's to rip out the lap bars and install individual ride restraints.

So let’s do it. Before any other kids get hurt.


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From Anonymous
Posted August 25, 2002 at 2:37 PM
I think this is the best idea ever. It's about time they started putting safety first. (Besides, the lap bar wasn't even that comfortable at all.)

From Jason Herrera
Posted August 25, 2002 at 4:40 PM
Now would they be using the kind of seatbelts that lock? Like Star Tours. Oddly enough those type of seatbelts were first implemented at Knott's on the motorcycle chase.

From what I was told it used a small pneumatic friction latch on the belt so once you were tightened in, it stayed on until you got back to the station.

From Anonymous
Posted August 25, 2002 at 7:45 PM
Well, that sucks.I hope this doesn't happen, cuz that makes soo many ridesmore fun. Stupid wusses complaining.Makes me sick.Just don't ride them.

From Anonymous
Posted August 25, 2002 at 8:12 PM
to the idiot anonymous person above: Don't be so ignorant!! I wouldn't call a child a wuss who fell out of a ride and has permanent damagae. So, stop talking about things that u know nothing about ya idiot!

From Kevin Baxter
Posted August 26, 2002 at 4:45 AM
Yes, that was pretty moronic. Too bad I wasn't the first one to call it!!

I would much prefer seat belts. I'm by no means fat, but many lap bars are extremely uncomfortable. Especially some that come down right on the Wonder Twins. Seat belts of some sort are already de rigeur on new coasters, so it wouldn't be like we all couldn't figure out how to work them.

From Anonymous
Posted August 26, 2002 at 5:27 AM
Bye, Bye Airtime...

If this effects rides the produce airtime on purpose (Freefall rides and Rollercoasters) then those rides will lose a great amount of appeal for a bunch of people. Myself included. What ever happened to parental responsibility, if a parent doesn't have enough common sense to place a child away from the open ride vehicle doesn't say much about our future generations.

From Jason Herrera
Posted August 26, 2002 at 6:43 AM
I like airtime just as much as the next person. But single rider restraints are the way to go.

This mishap may have been about responsiblity, Ride Operator responsiblity. I'm always surprised how the enthusiast finds way to blame riders, never the park. Kinda interesting if you ask me.

A day after attending a DOSH meeting in late June. I attended Six Flags Marine World taking a look at Star Fish, taking a few notes, and even noticed aspects which had me asking myself, and a few workers a question. Which still bugs me till this day.

Anyhow, if Lap bars go away. I don't think it'll cause an up roar. If it does cause an up roar, oh well, people will get over it.

From Anonymous
Posted August 26, 2002 at 10:07 AM
I totally agree with this.

I was on a ride where the person who jumped on 2 after me was so obese that the lap bar didn't even TOUCH me. I could freely stand up on the ride.

THat's unfair and dangerous.

From Mike Duchock
Posted August 26, 2002 at 12:33 PM
On tower of terror, the best seat in the house isn't one with a lap bar, its the single seat with a seat belt.

From Anonymous
Posted August 26, 2002 at 1:35 PM
I love coasters as much as the next guy, but when it comes to safety, I'd rather have individual lap bars too. I remember riding Blue Streak at Cedar POint about 17 years ago. My father is a large man and at the time, there was the seatbelt for the 2 passengers and the single lap bar. Me being only 8, I could stand up if it wasn't for that seatbelt, and even then that barely held me in. Even Classic coasters must face change and if there are coaster enthusiasts that don't like change...then don't ride them. I'd rather be safe than have someone ruin my fun. And by saing someone, I mean those coaster enthusiasts that try to leave the lap-bar up a few notches for "air-time". You want airtime, go skydiving. I'll raise my hands and let the ride operators staple me in. At least I know I won't fall out.

From Anonymous
Posted August 26, 2002 at 4:23 PM
Oh! I was thinking they were trying to get rid of two-person and individual lap bars! Well, I can see their point.. as long as the single lapbar stays!

From Michael Weaver
Posted August 26, 2002 at 3:59 PM
I always think I will rip the rusty thing off. A first trip threw a dark coaster, I feel
like the Hulk, and have seen the bar the shape of my fist.
My first ride ever on a big coaster was at Kings Dominion,
Va., a big dual wood mamoth.
I was about 12, 1974ish, and that big, huge guy ploped next to me, and the bar only
clicked once as it came down.
I never did hit the seat the entire ride. I didn't open my eyes much on coasters for a few years after that.
Then the need for speed comes on.
Then you have a family. I like
the security of a belt(s) on the rides that need them. Its like driveing an old 454 Chevy with bench seats. No belt, no stay in your seat. When you get older, the need for speed
dose not go away. I would rather enjoy the speed than be scared of it. I think it is a control thing. It comes with
age.
MM
about it.
benc

to me

From leo passov
Posted August 26, 2002 at 5:02 PM
I think that all they have to do is just make individual lap bars. I'm totally against seat belts, they ruin half of the experience.

From Anonymous
Posted August 26, 2002 at 6:26 PM
Are seat belts really safer then 1 lap bars?When I am on a ride with seat belts, I a always have more room to move, and I usaully loosen it at the top of the lift.It's all these people blaming these machines that are safer then planes for all this crap.I guess planes will have lap bars soon too?

From Ronald Schettino
Posted August 26, 2002 at 7:01 PM
Well, kiddies ... most of the new coasters built after 1997 are fitted with individual lap bars *and* seatbelts. All coasters after this time that were retrofitted (to fit around other rides in the park, to add more pressure beaks and/or, to do away with some of the more frightening airtime) were also then fitted with the new restraints. Older rides, however, like spinning flatrides (Scrambler, StarFish, Pendulum rides, etc. ...) have a single lap bar that can hold up to four riders!!! Come on. How dangerous is this? The change on these rides should have happened *years* ago! I personally know a girl who was flung from the Hurricane ride at a fair and suffered permanent damage and can no longer walk (or enjoy thrill rides). The lap bar was all the way down, but the ride operator set the ride to go too fast. I, myself, was injured on the Cyclone at Riverside Park (now Six Flags, NE) when an obese person sat next to me and I achieved the most amazing airtime ever as I crested the second hill ... I shattered my knee on the steel bar. Had I been standing (which I easily could have) I would have been flung totally from the ride. [how exciting!]

Say goodbye to the lap bar.

From Mike Sandusky
Posted August 26, 2002 at 7:29 PM
Due to the expense and challenges of retrofitting existing rides its going to take a while to get it done . But I think dual lap bars or shoulder restraints are the way to go. Seat belts can be installed as a stop gap until the parks and manufacturers have time to come up with solutions. The industry will do it's best at making these changes I'm sure because now more than ever, safety is a big issue.

From Kevin Baxter
Posted August 27, 2002 at 12:59 AM
Excellent point on the seatbelt seat on ToT being the best seat on the ride. I don't get these people that say seatbelts will diminish airtime. HUH? Seatbelts are NEVER as tight as a single-person lapbar. Every woodie I have ridden in the past few years has single-person lapbars and seatbelts and they all get major airtime. Well, except for Psyclone at MM, but that's just because it sucks.

From Andy Garcia
Posted August 28, 2002 at 6:14 PM
Thats the best idea so far. when i went to universal studios hollywood, i went on Jurrasic park and had to hold on to my sister to stay on! seriously, and it was uncomfortable because you dont know if you will fal out. i think it the best idea yet

From mark holderness
Posted August 28, 2002 at 8:56 PM
Good point kevin. Seatbealts provide enough freedom for you to feel the lift and "airtime" and protect. You won't be complaining when it is your kid.

From Josh Bishop
Posted August 29, 2002 at 3:56 PM
I think shoulder harnesses are a great idea. As coasters and thrill rides get more extreme, better restraints are a must. However, I belive that shoulder harnesses should only be used when actually needed. Many a coaster have been ruined by shoulder harnesses, one example being Revolution at Six Flags Magic Mountain. As far as I know, the ride operated without a hitch while only using individual racheting lap bars. Now it is one of the most un-comfortable rides I've been on, because of the shoulder harnesses.I also belive that it is as much the guest's responsibility to be smart when they go to an amusement park, as it is the parks to make sure that the guests are safe.

From Ronald Schettino
Posted August 29, 2002 at 4:24 PM
Josh,

I think it is more the responsibility of the park, for the sole reason that I, sometimes, like to place my hands in the air on certain attractions, primarily roller coasters. Now, if the park was not smarter when approving the proper restraint, they will end up kissing some guests good-bye. Basically, at this point, it would be virtually impossible to enforce a 'no hands in the air' policy : /

From Toby Noto
Posted August 30, 2002 at 5:19 AM
Lap bars used to be a break through when rollercoasters were around in the earlier days because there were no inversions on rollercosters. If you wanted a rollercoaster with an inversion with just a lapbar the train would have to go so fast it would break your neck! I,ve been hurt on lapbar spinning thrill rides by being crushed by larger people,on rollercoasters such as X/: noway out ive been bruised but i do agree with josh about only using these when needed but you never know when an accident is going to happen, so yes get rid of the damn things!!!

From Matthew Woodall
Posted August 30, 2002 at 8:08 PM
For those of you who object to one lap bar per rider come to Paramount Canada's Wonderland and ride the Mighty Canadian Minebuster, or the Wild Beast. They both have individual ratcheting lap bar systems and I feel that they are no less fun, and that there is no less airtime then if there were a single lapbar. It's also a whole lot safer!

From Anonymous
Posted August 30, 2002 at 10:08 PM
I hope that atleast shoulder restraints almost become extinct.The safety of these rides is safer then ever, and a big lap bar like on Flight Of Fear is safer then a shoulder harness.On a shoulder harness, I'm so tall, i could slip out of the front of one on an Arrow if I tried.I just want lap bars to become the resatraints on all coasters except for stand ups and 4th demensions.
One time, a coaster engineer named Anton Schwarzopf actauly stopped a coaster with lap bars in a loop.And, guess what, no one was injured.i wish that people would learn. :(

From Lambizzee yoka
Posted August 31, 2002 at 9:41 AM
That is a great idea when i was 8 i popped out of my seat a lot that's a Great idea.

From Giles Medd
Posted September 1, 2002 at 12:58 PM
Whilst i agree with most of the arguments for the loss of the lap bar, for people like me over certain heights and weights it means that rides are more accesible with a more free form of restraint.

From Terry Fedigan
Posted September 1, 2002 at 7:44 PM
Good riddens lap bar! I, for one, don't want to see my close ones flung from a ride just because people want airtime. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I understand and like the air time, but you get the same feeling with seat restraints like seatbelts and lap bars. All lap bars do on a rollercoaster, is let you fly up and hit the bar and then fly back down and jar your tailbone up your throat. If you want the stupid bar, go to a carnival!

From Spencer Allen
Posted September 3, 2002 at 1:31 PM
Well, I for one would gladly see the lap bar gone and for good reason:

My wife was injured this weekend at Kennywood riding the Phantoms Revenge, a ride which you see on The Learning Channel and more as one of the top coasters in the world. I personally have been riding coasters for 25 years and like to ride only in the rear car as you get the wildest/fastest ride. Well, we had already ridden the Jack Rabbit, The Racer and The Thunderbolt so it was time to step up to the biggie and we waited patiently for "the moment" to load. God, what anticipation! We got in the back w/o a thought and then realized that we only had a seatbelt and lap bar? Hmmm, isn't this supposed to be one of the baddest rides around? 235ft drop, over 80mph - and no shoulder harness at all? I guess I just figured that since it was computer designed, less than 2 years old that safety was really considered on this "new" coaster - I was really wrong. The first hill was awesome as was the second, but that's when things started getting a bit wild. Some really harsh bumps and whips and I was really trying to keep myself from getting wildly thrown around. Mind you we were in the back and you get the most movement back there due to the tail effect, but this was a bit extreme. The next thing I know, I look over at my wife and blood/mucus is running out of her mouth and nose - she had impacted the cushioned interior edge of the car and was staring blankly ahead, barely maintaining. I did the best to comfort her to the end as we were only about 1/2 through the run when it happened - so for about 40 seconds she just had to hang in there.

We got off and there is no first aid station near the ride as there ought to be, we had to walk her close to a quarter mile to the first aid station. There, they did check her out very well and iced down her face which was pretty well swollen up. She took about 2 hours to shake it off and some heavy pain pills and then we rode some of the other rides again, but no more Phantoms Revenge - it had exacted it's revenge already. Sad part is, she had been talking about this coaster as the highlight of our trip to a wedding. We are from Florida and go to all the major theme parts in our home state and all of our radical coasters have shoulder restraint systems - why not this?

I'd like to see the cars at Kennywoods Phantoms Revenge either retrofitted with shoulder restraints or new cars made with proper safety restraints.

Let's get rid of the lap bars!

~ Spencer Allen

From Annie Clark
Posted September 4, 2002 at 1:47 PM
I'm not sure if this is a stupid question or not, but couldn't shoulder harnesses cause more injury on some rides? For instance, on the Beast at King's Island there are individual lap bars, so you don't have to worry about the bar not coming down enough on children seated with adults. What I'm wondering is will shoulder harnesses on a ride like that cause neck/back injuries that could have been avoided? I've known quite a few people who've hurt their neck or back because of their head getting stuck in a forward position because of shoulder harnesses (namely on Flight of Fear). Not to mention that small children on a ride like the Beast could probably sustain head injuries from shoulder harnesses if their heads knocked against the sides throughout the ride. Granted rides like the Starfish should have shoulder harnesses in lieu of lap bars, but I think many roller coasters should keep the lap bars that they have. (I would love shoulder harnesses on swinging ship rides, I see so many small children with their parents that may as well be riding with no lap bar at all.)

From Ronald Schettino
Posted September 4, 2002 at 7:10 PM
Yes, a shoulder harness can cause quite a bit of damage (Flight of Fear, Drachen Fire, etc.). NOT a stoopid question. Most of the time, seatbelts and individual lap bars are secure enough to hold a rider in place, even through loops and corkscrews, as gravity holds a rider firmly in place (excluding stand-up and inverted coasters). When a coaster is engineered properly, the only 'airtime' should be achieved while cresting hills. Seatbelts do not hinder that butterflies-in-your-stomach feeling of weightlessness. BTW -- Bolliger & Mabillard have designed 'clamshell' restraints for most of their newest creations, Apollo's Chariot being the prototype. "...in the future we might end up seeing clamshell restraints replace the OTSR system." -- "Clamshell - A type of restraint used on B&M's 'Speed coasters'. These are similar to individual lap bars, but cover more of the lap area, and are therefore more comfortable than other types of restraint. Compare with: Horsecollar, Individual Lap Bar, Lap Bar, OTSR, Seat Belt."

Clamshell because it looks like a clam. The seats are deeper and there's a latch on the side of each unit for added security. Riders' feet don't even have to touch the floor, thus, B&M have created 'floorless' coasters and use these restraints. The only thing better would be no restraint at all. TheCLAMSHELL
Better than a lap bar? Should it be used on other rides?

From Kevin Stone
Posted September 8, 2002 at 12:09 AM
To Spencer ... maybe you missed something but the debate is not over Lap Bars in general. It is strictly concerning the double seat lap bar that keeps both passengers in the car with a single restraint.

Individually ratcheting Lap Bars such as those on Phantom's Revenge have proven reliable and safe on looping and non-looping coasters alike. A rough coaster is just a rough coaster and I'm very sorry about what happened to your wife, but no restraint is going to make that coaster any more comfortable. And as has already been pionted out the Shoulder Restraints can cause more problems with neck straint, head injuries and the like.

Again the call is not for the outright abolition of all lap bars.. that would be ludicrous. It is strictly for the abolition of the single two person restraint used on older coasters and it is something I fully support.

From The Skull
Posted September 23, 2002 at 9:03 AM
Yes, I thing they should get rid on the lap bar. The Ghoster Coaster at Paramount Canada's Wonderland just added seat belts on there coaster trains in 2001.
They use to have just the lap bar and I have found it was not safe at all to ride when I was a kid. Im now 30. The Ghoster Coaster ( Wooden Coaster ) was built in 1981 when Canada's Wonderland first opened. By-The-Way, why dose'nt Theme Park Insider have Paramount Canada's Wonderland on there list of theme parks ???

From Anonymous
Posted October 14, 2002 at 9:15 AM
The most common way to fix that problem is to put a bar in the middle that has seprate Lap Bar on both sides. Such as on Martin's Fantasy Island's Silver Comet.

From Anonymous
Posted February 24, 2003 at 9:18 PM
Some of you should be ASHAMED of yourselves. Part of the fun of classic coasters is the airtime you get from a lap bar that does not fit snugly! Why in the world are you trying to spoil a good time for the rest of us? C'mon people! This is a THRILL ride site.

When the Grizzly changed their 2-person lap bars to individual bars, people like me were forced to try to "cheat" the restraint system by leaving the bar up a couple notches. The best way to do this is to lift your butt about 6 inches off the seat and then squat rather than sit by wedging your backside hard against the seat back. This takes practice, but if done right, you can have between 6-10 inches of play between you and the lap bar. It makes for an entirely different ride. Anyway, I don't want to see people hurt, but I miss the good old days before political correctness and crazy safety restraints.

From Ben Mills
Posted February 25, 2003 at 3:35 AM
"This is a THRILL ride site."

Well, not entirely. It's about theme parks. Hence the name, Theme Park Insider. And, although it may surprise you to hear this, not all rides in theme parks are thrill rides.

And if you're willing to condone the injury of the person sitting next to you, then that's up to you.

From Anonymous
Posted February 25, 2003 at 3:15 PM
In response to the above post:

I never said anything about condoning injury. I enjoy some degree of risk when I ride at theme parks. I fail to see the enjoyment in riding something with absoultely NO risk involved. No risk = no addrenaline rush. Even when you drive your car there is risk involved. Now becuase of overzealous theme park lawyers and overdone restraint systems, I am forced to "cheat" the restraints in order to enjoy the ride, at an even GREATER risk to my perosnal safety. NOT FAIR.

From Matthew Woodall
Posted February 25, 2003 at 7:14 PM
I can't believe you would have the audacity to openly admit that you do what you can to work around the restraint systems at theme parks. That has got to be one of the stupidest things I have ever heard. Have you learned nothing from the hundreds of people who have been injured or killed on rides because they did exactly that!? If you aren't willing to work within the rules and regulations of a park, you should not be going! If you find that the rides at theme parks are too tame for you, save your money! As a ride operator, you'd be saving me a lot of hassle, you'd also be saving the industry millions of dollars in litigation fees after someone who imitates you gets killed or injured because they saw you doing it. Go jump out of an airplane or something...just don't come to my park!

From Anonymous
Posted February 25, 2003 at 9:56 PM
Obviously there is a difference of phillosophy here. I don't wish to become involved in a back-and-forth flame war or "safety" discussion since we both obviously think we are right. FYI I have been riding coasters for nearly 20 years and I have never been injured. The worst that has happened to me is being evicted from a park, and this has happened on only 4 or 5 occassions. I am not advocating that people follow my example. I am simply stating the fact that many people (most of my friends included) find it necessary to add an extra element of risk in order to truly enjoy a ride 100%. I don't blame theme park owners, I blame the lawyers who force legislation that increase superfluous restraints and decrease g-forces, airtime, and FUN.

From KANNi8L KL0wN
Posted February 25, 2003 at 11:17 PM
I used to do anything I could to make a roller coaster more exciting: from climbing out of the seat to sit on the front of the car, then clamping my feet under the seat just to ride the car backwards (I did this on three occasions); to actually climbing out of a corkscrew coaster seat to sit *on* the horse collar when a friend showed me how to unlock the restraint system (of course locking ALL body parts firmly -- gravety kept me in place, but this was the only time and I was ejected from that park); to Scrunching down to lock the bicycle-style seat in a lower position on a standup coaster then standing on my toes and leaning forward to create a huge gap so I could feel more like I was flying (again three or four times) ...

I no longer do any of this as we lost a friend because he did exactly what I had done and died falling from the Shockwave at King's Dominion a few summers ago.

Murphy's Law

KANNi8L KL0wN
-There's a funny taste in my mouth.

Ps ... For those who do not know what Murphy's Law is: http://www.edwards.af.mil/history/docs_html/tidbits/murphy's_law.html
This should take precedence when visiting Theme Parks, also.

From Ben Mills
Posted February 26, 2003 at 2:18 AM
"I have been riding coasters for nearly 20 years and I have never been injured"

You sound like a smoker to me.

From Anonymous
Posted February 26, 2003 at 11:26 AM
When as an adult you stand up on a rollercoaster,take a minute to think about the person behind you, who MAY be an immpressionable child! Some bozo did this a SFGA on Rolling Thunder last summer while my 5 yr old was behind him! I have to hold onto my daughter so she doesn't go flying out and this isnt even a big coaster!

From Matthew Woodall
Posted February 26, 2003 at 5:45 PM
Anonymous: Obviously there is a difference in philosophies, but I see you as a person who refuses to take responsibility for their own actions.

"The worst that has happened to me is being evicted from a park, and this has happened on only 4 or 5 occassions" - and you STILL haven't learned that what you're doing is wrong!?

"I am not advocating that people follow my example." Tell that to the parent of the kid who jumps out of the restraint after seeing you do it!

"I am simply stating the fact that many people (most of my friends included) find it necessary to add an extra element of risk in order to truly enjoy a ride 100%." Perhaps you shouldn't be attending amusement parks then. Something along the lines of bungee jumping or parachuting might be better.

Please think of the panic you cause operators and other guests, and the example you set for other guests who see that happening. I'm sure you are a very nice person and that if I knew you, I would enjoy your company. I just think that your actions are stupid and irresponsible.

From Tim Hillman
Posted February 27, 2003 at 7:14 AM
Matthew, I agree with your post except for one thing. Anonymous is not a nice person. Anonymous is a jerk.

Think I’m too harsh, Anonymous? Here’s an experiment for you. Go get one of your lap bar buddies and have him stand at the top of a 20 foot ladder leaning against a wall. You sit strapped in a chair at the bottom of the ladder and try to catch him as he takes a headfirst tumble down the ladder toward you. Sounds thrilling doesn’t it? Well, that’s a possible outcome if you do happen to fall out of your seat during a ride and that’s just one of threats you pose to other riders in your irresponsible search for more airtime.

The world is not about you. Have some consideration for other people. People like you endanger other riders, cause ride shutdowns and ride closings, increase ride development and operating costs, hassle operators when they need to be focusing on all of their patrons, and just degrade the theme park experience for everyone else.

You also might want to stop posting stupid comments and asking people not to flame you. On this website that’s an open invitation for a free education in reality.

From Iris Brown
Posted February 27, 2003 at 11:57 AM
Bravo! As someone who works in a park, I have seen many stupid things done by many people. I know they just want a greater thrill from the ride, but they make it unsafe for everyone else. I have seen teens imitate stunts they saw someone else pull and end up getting seriously injured. It's not responsible to act in a manner that endangers others. As far as lap bars go, they should replace all single lap bars (that cover two people) with single ratching lap bars; w/ or w/o seatbelts. I say this from experience. I have been riding coasters for more than 37 years, and the only time I have not had a good experience is when I am stuck in a car with someone bigger than me and a single lapbar. The bar goes down to the top of their lap and I have 4 or 5" of space. Great airtime, but you're never sure if you can hang on long enough to get back to the station! Riding in fear of your life is no fun!!! Example- my husband and work at CP, and every time we ride the Mine Ride, he has to hold on to me or I would fly right out of the car. Single lapbar. And that ride isn't all that bad; it's just because of the size difference in our legs. Shoulder restraints aren't always the answer, either, because you can get really beat up around the head and ears hitting the sides of the harness, i.e.Ninja at SFG. Rides should be fun AND as safe as possible. People don't have fun getting hurt.

From Anonymous
Posted February 27, 2003 at 7:56 PM
I was under the impression that theme parks were supposed to be a fun and enjoyable experience for everyone, not just paranoid, overzealous safety freaks bent on ruining a good time. Tim, you can go to theme parks your way, and I'll enjoy them my way. Just remember, your rights end where my nose begins. People, remember, if people like Tim have their way, there will be NO MORE theme parks becuase no one will be able to afford to run one!

I am not afraid to post my name, either:

Brad LeMonier, Chicago IL.

From Anonymous
Posted February 28, 2003 at 10:32 AM
For rides currently configured with just a single two-person lap-bar, all that is needed to insure riders don't fly out of their seats (a very rare occurance anyway) are individual seat-belts. Seat-belts wont ruin the thrill of the ride and will act as an effective secondary restraint as long as the guest does not purposefully defeat the belt (in which case, screw 'em). Also, not all single position lapbars are created equal. Some, like those found on classic PTC trains (Cornball Express comes to mind) are perfectly adequate for various sized guests and I see not enough benefit for installing the single rider bars in their place. If they must, add seat-belts to these rides; it's certainly a lot cheaper for the parks, thus more likely to actually happen than replacing the rolling stock entirely. Adding over-the-shoulder restraints to rides is an unacceptable solution, as far more guest injuries are caused by these poor restraints than on lapbar equipped rides.

From Russell Meyer
Posted February 28, 2003 at 10:52 AM
The problem with seat belts is that they can be undone by the riders, where a lap bar can be locked and is "stupid rider" proof. I doubt engineers and ride owners would be willing to cough up the extensive cash it would take to install locking seat belts, so to say only a seat belt is needed is misguided.

From Anonymous
Posted February 28, 2003 at 2:24 PM
Trust me, there are ways to easily defeat any nearly type of restraint. The only safety device that is difficult to override is the "horse collar" shoulder harness. The only times I have been able to leave a significant amount of slack in a shoulder harness is when the people checking the restraints by hand are in a hurry. On some older rides (the Demon at SFGA used to be like this), there is way to actually completely unlock the horse collar after the ride has started by reaching around back behind you. Most newer horse collars do not allow this. The important thing to keep in mind is to be use common sense no matter what ride you are on. If you don't feel comfortable cheating a safety device, then by all means don't do it! Leave it to people who know what they are doing.

From Matthew Woodall
Posted February 28, 2003 at 5:27 PM
You are missing the point people! Let me put this into perspective for you. Theme parks are about taking risks safely. That means living by the rules that apply to everyone!

Brad: Let's say that you "safely" get out of the restraint in order to get the maximum "thrill" out of your ride. Unknown to you, there is a problem and they have to stop the ride. You are thrown from your seat and land head-first on a concrete support and die on the spot. It is just you who has been harmed, right? Not even close. What about the twenty or so people on the train with you who watched you splatter your brain (however small it may be) all over the restricted area? What about the three people who were running that ride? What about the time that the ride is not running while investigators and park official try and figure out why exactly you died on the ride?

Continue with me for a minute...you are now dead. Your family files a lawsuit against the park for failing to ensure that you were restrained properly. The twenty people on the ride plus the hundred or so people watching the ride all file lawsuits against the park. The park now has a hundred plus lawsuits pending against them. The insurance company hikes the park's premiums so that insurance costs them more. This forces the park to raise prices in order to cover the increased premiums.

And then there's the ride which could be down for days or weeks, if it ever reopens at all. The park would also suffer decreased admissions because of the resulting bad publicity from your death.

I have been employed in the rides department of a major theme park for two years now. I can tell you that an incident like that is something that will stay with anybody who witnesses it for the rest of their life.

"...not just paranoid, overzealous safety freaks bent on ruining a good time." The only people I have ever seen ruin a good time are ignorant people who refuse to follow the rules. In my jurisdiction, you can also face prosecution and jail time for doing something like that.

"if people like Tim have their way, there will be NO MORE theme parks becuase no one will be able to afford to run one!"
If anyone will shut down parks, it is people like you who shut them down with their ignorance!

"If you don't feel comfortable cheating a safety device, then by all means don't do it! Leave it to people who know what they are doing."
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU EVER CHEAT A SAFETY DEVICE! It could be the last thing you do.

From Lauren Donovan
Posted February 28, 2003 at 9:19 PM
Well, I'm going to ignore the flaming for a while and bring up the Jurassic Park River Adventure, at IoA ... This is the worst lap bar idea I have ever seen. I sat in the front row with my dad, my mom, and my brother. Needless to say my brother is 95 pounds, and my dad is rather obese, at almost three times that. The bar would not stay put. When we got to the drop I had to slam my feet into the front of the car to stop from flying out, my brother did similar. Lucky for me I only sprained my knee and had to limp all the way around the park. The only problem is that it is almost impossible to change that...

One small note to our friend who thinks that lap bars should stay...

This is coming from a 13 year old girl.

Sorry bud, but I think even I, an eigth grade girl who thinks about nothing but fun, has enough common sense not to do something like intentionally cheating on the lap bar. It can result in serious injury and death. These coasters were made with your safety in mind... but also for fun as well. Just something to think about...

From Lauren Donovan
Posted February 28, 2003 at 9:19 PM
Well, I'm going to ignore the flaming for a while and bring up the Jurassic Park River Adventure, at IoA ... This is the worst lap bar idea I have ever seen. I sat in the front row with my dad, my mom, and my brother. Needless to say my brother is 95 pounds, and my dad is rather obese, at almost three times that. The bar would not stay put. When we got to the drop I had to slam my feet into the front of the car to stop from flying out, my brother did similar. Lucky for me I only sprained my knee and had to limp all the way around the park. The only problem is that it is almost impossible to change that...

One small note to our friend who thinks that lap bars should stay...

This is coming from a 13 year old girl.

Sorry bud, but I think even I, an eigth grade girl who thinks about nothing but fun, has enough common sense not to do something like intentionally cheating on the lap bar. It can result in serious injury and death. These coasters were made with your safety in mind... but also for fun as well. Just something to think about...

From Gary Swanson
Posted May 18, 2008 at 1:57 PM
Seatbelts that Fit everyone? Currently the restraints only fit average to small people... Not tall, big framed people or people with odd frames cannot ride rides. I cannot ride a rollecoaster, but yet I am able to ride in a F-18 with out a problem...

From Anthony Murphy
Posted May 18, 2008 at 7:17 PM
Well SFGA has individual lapbars on their Roller Coasters and a majority of their other rides. I guess its important, but has this been much of an issue in the past? I mean why now in 2008?

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