Please keep all hands and feet inside

Jaalin Harvey

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Here in Florida, we are the lucky few million peo­ple who are able to live around the theme park capi­tal of the world, Orlando.

From Tampa, most of us are only a few hours or so away from the vacation des­tination.

Although we ride count­less rides and enter the gates of several theme parks, how many of us ac­tually pay attention dur­ing the safety speeches on the rides we get on?

The speeches are echoed through the intercoms while you are in line, written rules are posted through­out the maze and legally required safety videos play over our heads in the queue.

But even then some of us get on the rides and do exactly the opposite.

We wave our hands over our heads on rollercoast­ers, we occasionally take that flash photo, and we might even reach out to try and touch the water on water rides. Most of the time we get off scot-free though.

Nobody’s lost a finger sticking their hands into the water of a water ride, right?

Well, actually, some have.

Five years ago, in the thick of summer, a British tourist was riding the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Walt Dis­ney World’s Magic King­dom and decided to stick his hands into the water. This was a decision that was not smart on his part for two reasons: 1. the wa­ter is stagnant and not ster­ile, and 2. His fingers got caught in the grooves along the boat’s path and cut off the tips of his ring and pin­ky fingers. The tips were not recovered, but he survived.

The incident caused the ride to be closed for a few days to look for his fin­gertips, clean the grooves, and inspect safety features.

More recently, in Janu­ary at Universal Studios Orlando, an eleven-year-old boy had his foot com­pletely twisted 180 degrees on the E.T. Adventure.

During the return to the loading dock, the boy had his foot hanging off the ve­hicle platform. When the moving platform began to slide against the loading dock to let the guest off, it was blocked by the boy’s foot.

The machine didn’t slow down, and it twisted the boy’s foot completely back­ward. The boy’s foot was able to be twisted back to its normal position, but you can imagine just how painful it is to have you foot twisted around by heavy machinery.

Back at the Magic King­dom at Walt Disney World, the Wedway People Mov­er has been carting guest around Tomorrowland since the park opened in 1971.

Up until the mid-90s, the ride hadn’t seen any ac­cidents in its entire run.

But in February 1996, Philadelphia tween, Gary Hall was leaning over his cart to look at the magnets that move the People Mov­er, and he fell out of the cart and on to the People mover track in front of his cart.

In a quick swoop, the cart ran over Hall’s legs, crush­ing them completely, and causing him to need surgery

He now has to wear pros­thetic legs for the rest of his life.

Surprisingly, Hall still rides that ride and even moved down from Philadel­phia with his wife to be clos­er to Walt Disney World. “I don’t hate the ride,” Hall confesses. “It was my fault for being stupid as a kid. That’s why we didn’t sue.”

As you can see, even though it’s fun to break the rules, sometimes the possi­ble consequences outweigh the fun we have on rides.

Sure it’s okay to put your hands up on a rollercoaster. It’s even fun to loosen your seatbelts on freefall tow­ers to catch extra air, but there are rules for common sense purposes and those are the ones we need to fol­low. Otherwise, you might lose a finger, a foot, or both legs trying to do some­thing that you shouldn’t.

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