And this is why so many major parks don't have skyways anymore

Edited: June 25, 2017, 5:55 PM

You might have seen the viral video by now, of a 14-year-old girl who fell from a gondola ride at Six Flags' The Great Escape in New York.

Inspections have failed to reveal any problems with the ride, so the question at this point is how the girl came to be dangling from the ride. (I'm not going to speculate, but I will say that one specific scenario would not surprise me at all.) The girl suffered no reported injuries, but one of the people who caught her suffered a back injury.

I used to love riding the old Skyway across Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom, and I miss what used to be a ubiquitous attraction at major theme parks. But, seeing this sort of thing happen, I understand why so many parks decided not to risk this happening at their park, and ripped them out.

Replies (14)

Edited: June 25, 2017, 8:23 PM

Looking at ski lift data, there hasn't been a fatality from lift malfunction in the US since 1993. These are in environments which are far less ideal than in theme parks.

That being said, poor lift design can easily contribute to guest injury or death, even if the guest themselves are at fault ( or staff loading and unloading lifts can contribute). The only way to really minimise the risk is to have enclosed gondolas.

June 25, 2017, 6:11 PM

Yeah, have to agree. I know, still a few skyways here and there (Busch Gardens Tampa, San Diego Zoo) but the risk factor is pretty high. Plus, always the fact that sadly idiots on some who thought it was a fun thing to dump their drink cups or trash and try and hit people below which was way too common. I do miss WDW's skyway a lot yet can understand why parks don't want to risk it anymore.

June 25, 2017, 6:15 PM

You might not want to speculate, Robert, but I do. Nothing wrong with the ride. That 14-year-old girl could not have ended up in that position "accidentally." I wouldn't call that a "fall" from the ride. More like an intentional exit before the station.

Edited: June 25, 2017, 6:19 PM

I liked riding these rides back in the day as well. It's been a while since I've seen one. Pretty sure they haven't changed much, which means basically a seat belt or lap bar and a gate with a steel pin restraint. Even if those somehow malfunction, its a slow mover so seems fairly simple on how not to fall out. Nobody wants to see anyone hurt... however seems if one remains in their seat even without a restraint, then this probably wouldn't happen. Could it be a freak accident? Always a possibility, however the older I get, the less I believe in those sorts of's usually us. This isn't a 90 mph roller coaster ride with a malfunctioning lap bar.

That's as nicely as I can put it. I really do hope that she is ok. Been a while everyone, looking to be around a little more often soon.

June 25, 2017, 7:26 PM

Nice to see you around these parts again, Derek!

June 25, 2017, 11:24 PM

I loved the skyway and it would have even be better now with 7DMT to look upon. It's probably the seam reason why Splash Mountain got lap bars. Not to protect the riders from the ride but to protect stupid riders from themself. It's frustrating all guests need to be secured in a ride just so the 0.1% who is incapable to follow instructions or lacks brain capacity can be safe.

June 26, 2017, 12:26 AM

As someone who has ridden a chairlift hundreds (or possibly thousands) of times while skiing, I'm 99.9% confident what happened was almost exclusively the passenger failing to remain properly seated for the duration of the ride. While I haven't ridden this particular attraction, I've ridden the same model at several other parks (it is quite common among smaller parks) and unless the bar somehow came unlocked you'd have to force your way under it to fall out as seen in the video. Even without a bar, someone seated normally would have no chance of accidentally being thrown from one of these rides. At ski areas, it isn't uncommon for chairs (particularly older ones) to have no retention bar at all, and those will sometimes run in strong storms. If you can sit on a slick chair in high winds with no bar and not get thrown when the lift suddenly stops, you'd be more likely to have the cable break than be bumped off a 2 MPH theme park chairlift.

As for attractions like Disneyland's Skyway, these use a completely different type of carrier that would take significant effort to leave mid-ride. The reason for closure of these rides was largely due to maintenance costs becoming too high to justify keeping the attraction or to clear space for future attractions, not because there is any particular danger to them. 10 Von Roll 101 Sky Rides (the model formerly found at Disney parks) continue to operate at US theme parks (or similar), and a majority of smaller parks have a chairlift-type Sky Ride similar to that seen in the above video.

Edited: June 26, 2017, 12:47 PM

I agree AJ, it seems that these very enjoyable rides will fall victim to a few idiots, much like what has happened to many other things in life. For as much as modern society promotes the idea of a "collective", there's still great power wielded by an individual. Theme park rides now have to be tailored to the lowest common denominator, which is increasingly taking out the fun.

June 26, 2017, 4:29 PM

As someone who has actually been on this particular chairlift ride, I can tell you that this girl didn't accidentally wind up dangling from the gondola. If you look up the ride POV on youtube you can see that the restraint is not a typical chairlift restraint you would see at a ski-resort. Instead the restraint system here has 2 bars. If you watch every single video of the "accident" you can clearly see that her brother is still seated in the gondola behind the restraints. The girl must have slid herself off of the seat and slid on her back under the bar. When I was on the ride, the ride stopped briefly to allow an individual with a wheel chair get on. The gondola didn't even sway when it stopped. I would be thinking very differently right now if the actual restraint opened or broke, but seeing that that did not happen here, the girl must have been looking for a thrill. It's a shame that news networks are going to make this seem like theme parks are death traps. The girl needs to come clean with what really happened!

June 27, 2017, 4:08 AM

Lagoon and CF Great America also have Chairlifts. If someone want to provoke an Acident those are a good place to do so together with the Condor at 6F Great America and the old Models of a typical American Ferrieswheel where the Gondolas mounted in a way you sit in the Direction of the Movement. I guess many of them are running backwards to scale down the risk of falling out.

I not want to comment more on the Skylift itself because for me it looks like everything been sad already, but I like to get your atention on injury risks just outside of Rides:

Many - like the Boomerang at WoF or Breakdancers or in part the Gerstlauer Spinning "Mouse" have Ride Platforms out of plain Steel with some crossing surveys that are a bit higher as the Rest of the Platform itself. They get very slippery when wet.

Just yesterday I slipped on that Plattform at the Bumerang at WoF while I just needed to walk 1 step... I felt down in such an unhappy odd way that all Body extremeties been on the Plattform in a not usual way resultung in a pain that I can not get up in a way I usual can and can not walk fast or run. That did not change after a Night of sleep and has now the potential to risk the rest of my vocation.

While I never would complain about a similar injury getting while real Riding I filed an Injury Report about that incident as I see CF in charge of maintaining a save Ride Platform by sweeping the Floor or better putting on Top of the Metall a non Slipping Surface or Mats or at least making a sign "Slippery when wet" or providing that warning in the Ride Spell.

My Outdoor Sandales do have a good Grip and it was first time I slipped with them. Just the day before I been with them in Marvel Cave at SDC and never slipped while they warn to use the handrails..

CF provided me UBER Home as I could not catch my Bus because of the Injury. Because it will last out of my Experance 45 days I think about to take one of the Injury Lawyers. What you think about?

PS I will publish this also as an own Artikle, but likely Robert will not Link it, whatever why. - Robert: I would be happy you Link it because I like to read other Opinions about. I have no Idea why my first Artikles been Linked and after a while no Artikle from me anymore been Featured. If you Link my Artikle you are Welcome to take the PS out.

June 27, 2017, 10:00 AM

News outlets are coming out saying this was the girls fault after investigations. Case closed.

June 28, 2017, 9:56 PM

Isn't this a bit like "no diving" signs at the shallow end of a pool?
If someone wants to do something stupid and risk injury or death, sometimes there's really nothing anyone can do about it.

Makes me wonder if she'll enjoy the enormously fun "driving in London" game once she's behind the wheel of a car.

June 30, 2017, 7:24 AM

I just think they are more of a headache than most theme parks would want to deal with.

July 8, 2017, 10:15 AM

Robert, it was pointed out to me by someone on another website that the reason why Disneyland removed its Skyway in 1994 had nothing to do with safety reasons. Rather, it was a purely financial decision to save money by closing attractions that had high operating costs. (Disney's justification to the press and public for closing the attraction, notwithstanding.)

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