We had the pleasure of speaking with Bob Minnick, a safety expert with 20+ years of service in the field. Bob successfully worked for Disney for 16 years, and is now President of RFM Consultants, LLC, a safety management firm providing resources for IAAPA, the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions. If you're heading to a theme park anytime soon, here are Bob's thoughts about how you can keep yourself safer:
Q: What can/ should amusement park goers do to minimize their risks before they head to amusement parks & attractions?
A: Park goers can do a lot of things to prepare themselves for their day at the park. For example, everyone should use sunscreen to protect themselves from sun, wear sturdy shoes and avoid wearing flip flops to prevent trip and falls, take a poncho or an umbrella if forecast is rain and drink water to stay hydrated on warm days.
Q: What safety measures can they take at the park to ensure the most worry-free experience?
A: In addition to using the ideas above, park goers should remember safety is a partnership between an amusement park and its patrons. Unfortunately, a majority of incidents and injuries occur because guests didn't follow posted ride safety guidelines or rode with a pre-existing medical condition.
IAAPA (The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions) recommends park guest follow these ride safety tips:
Q: What are the most frequent areas of safety concerns at parks now in 2018 / 2019?
A: Slips, trips, falls, sunburn, dehydration and not watching where you're going are among the most frequent causes of incidents. Riding amusement rides is among the safest forms recreational activities. The chance of serious being injured on a fixed-site amusement ride is 1 in 17 million.
Q: What are parks doing about the use of cell phones on property?
A: Many parks are providing smart phone apps to help guests navigate parks, display wait times, provide food and merchandise locations, make reservations or order food, and provide safety information to improve guests' experiences. Parks also use mobile technology to provide queue line entertainment.
Q: How are parks managing the desire for people to carry their phones on rides?
A: Parks have always required riding guests to secure their loose articles. All loose articles, including wallets, change, sunglasses, cell phones, and hats must be secured before riding. Park operators often provide lockers, cubbies, or on-board pouches to hold loose objects while riding. Guests can also leave their items with a non-riding member of the party. Many publish their policies on line or on the ride entrance safety sign.
Q: Are there anticipated changes to current Loose Articles Policies and if so, how would those affect park goers?
A: The majority of parks have updated their policies regarding selfie sticks and their use. Selfie sticks have proliferated as a natural outcome of ballooning global engagement in social networking using still and video imagery. A selfie stick is an expandable stick which a person attaches to a mobile phone or camera to help take a selfie (a photo of oneself and possibly others). Many parks do not allow guests to bring selfie sticks into the park at all.
Q: Will metal detectors become more prevalent at parks and if so, when might park-goers start seeing this?
A: Many parks already have metal detectors at the entrance of their parks mainly to prevent guests bringing weapons into the parks. With increased use of mobile phones to film experiences, some ride operators are putting metal detectors in the queue line to prohibit guests from taking phones onto rides. Loose article risk grows as ride dynamics (speed and g-force) increase on a ride. There have been some serious injuries as a result of loose objects.
Q: For those who desire more information, what is the current organization that sets standards for safety at amusement parks?
A: IAAPA publishes amusement industry safety information on their website: www.iaapa.org. The outdoor amusement business association (over the road amusement operators) and IAAPA partner with ASTM International and the European Ride Safety Standards organization to develop and publish safety standards.
Q: Do you have other suggested resources that folks can contact if they have further Qs?
A: Please reach out to PressOffice@IAAPA.org for more information.