Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Flying Turns- A Disability Nightmare?


News today about Flying Turns, the long awaited and finally open wooden bobsled coaster at Knoebels Amusement Resort.

Screamscape has an interesting report from Knoebels regarding Flying Turns.  Apparently the ride has some accessibility issues which the park has put into place in regards to wheelchair bound guests or guests with disabilities. It also has a 'rider weight limit' in place.

Image from Screamscape
 Disabled access to the ride is via the exit ramp. However, according to a sign posted by Knoebels, the ride will only accommodate wheelchairs when running one or two ride trains.  This means that guests will need to be able to walk without assistance to board the ride, no wheelchairs allowed at the gate.

 They also state only the disabled person and one guest may board the ride through the exit ramp. Which means if you're more then a party of two people the rest of your group must wait in the normal line if you wish to ride together.

 This becomes a problem because Flying Turns is currently running three ride trains and may add a fourth before the 2014 season. It's rather unlikely, with this being a new ride, it won't run only 1-2 ride trains anytime soon.

 Now while I have no issue with those in wheelchairs or with any form of disability, I can see how this will become an issue.  I've been in a wheelchair before at an amusement park (broken foot, don't ask), it sucks trying to get onto anything and I was fully able to hobble around for short periods of time. Others may not be able to stand or hobble as much or as easily as I could. That's going to limit their ability to ride Flying Turns. This will also limit those unable to walk at all. It will probably also cause problems in the realm of children with disabilities riding with parents.

But Wait! It gets worse!

 They also state that the ride trains have a maximum weight limit of 400 pounds per train car. Each train has a total of five rows, allowing a max weight limit of 2,000 pounds. This is rather small for a roller coaster. You will be weighed before boarding the ride and if your party exceeds the weight limit your group will need to be split up in order to ride.   The seats are arranged like other bobsled coasters where it's two riders per seat, one in front the other in back.


 Now to give you a perspective on this weight thing.

 I'm 5'1" and weight around 120 pounds soaking wet. I'm your typical normal-ass American. I'm not fat nor am I skinny, I've provided a picture for reference.
 See? Typical carbon based life form at an amusement park. My husband is 5'11" and around 190 pounds, he may or may not be human- the jury is still out on that. Either way, he's an average weight also.. neither fat nor thin.

  My #1 Head Minion Alex is 5'2" and 140 pounds. Her boyfriend is 6'2" and weighs 195. That puts them together at 335 pounds.

 I went so far as to ask my parents- after the 'my child is made of evil' look, I got answers.  My dad is 5'10" and 200 pounds. My mother is 5'9" and 170. That puts them at a total of 370 pounds, very close to that magic "400 pound" limit.  Don't ask why I'm short, genetics weren't kind to me.

 Are you following my drift here? While we may be 'average' all you need to do is look around to figure out that we're the minority weight-wise... and two of us are damn short. While this won't trouble those of us listed here, imagine if you had just a taller couple together! Two people at 6 foot will nearly push that weight factor over. Nevermind the fact a lot of folks these days are heavy set. 

 I can understand these are safety restrictions and need to be followed but at the same time, this is going to bruise a LOT of feelings.  It won't take long until someone starts yelling discrimination or some other fancy legal term which boils down to "you won't let me ride EVEN if it is for my safety and I'm gonna sue you now cause your a meanie head".