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Summer from Hell

the issues of 2021

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I really am just in awe of all the bad luck, accidents, incidents, and general nonsense that has been plaguing parks in America in such a short span of time this summer.  And I feel like it's worth cataloging the various stories in one place just to look back on all the craziness.

From mid-May to mid-July, these are the stories I can think of...

  • the fights at King's Island's opening weekend that shut down the park
  • the death on Voyage at Holiday World
  • the two ride incidents at Six Flags Great Adventure (log flume flip and El Toro wheels)
  • the lift cable break on Skyrush
  • the lift chain break on Gatekeeper
  • the viral video of the Magic Carpet ride gone insane at a carnival in Michigan
  • the false alarm shooter at Knott's Berry Farm that shut down the park
  • RMC closing Stunt Pilot & Jersey Devil for train modifications
  • death on the rapids ride at Adventureland

All of this in under 2 months.  Did I miss any other big stories?

EDIT: I do realize that some of these are just things that do happen from time to time. but I can't think of another time this many things happened in such a short timespan.

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If you're going to list the death on Voyage (which you shouldn't, since it wasn't the parks fault), you need to list the flipped raft at Adventureland and the ensuing death.

If you're going to list the fights at KI as a "major incident," you need to also list the turkey leg event at whatever SF park that happened at, and also every other minor issue that the news media blew out of proportion.

You're definitely missing the pandemic-aftermath-related staffing shortages, causing many parks to substantially increase their wages to a level beyond what 90% of the employees are worth which lead to Cedar Fair cutting back hours so as to not terribly cut in to their (rightfully-deserved) profit, and the inevitable drastic increase in prices for everything that will probably come next year.

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11 minutes ago, Mike240SX said:

If you're going to list the death on Voyage (which you shouldn't, since it wasn't the parks fault), you need to list the flipped raft at Adventureland and the ensuing death.

If you're going to list the fights at KI as a "major incident," you need to also list the turkey leg event at whatever SF park that happened at, and also every other minor issue that the news media blew out of proportion.

You're definitely missing the pandemic-aftermath-related staffing shortages, causing many parks to substantially increase their wages to a level beyond what 90% of the employees are worth which lead to Cedar Fair cutting back hours so as to not terribly cut in to their (rightfully-deserved) profit, and the inevitable drastic increase in prices for everything that will probably come next year.

I'm absolutely not here for assigning blame or fault.. just compiling the stories that made headlines.  Clearly Holiday World was not at fault, it's just something that happened.

The King's Island fights shut down the park and resulted in 6 criminal indictments... that's definitely a significant incident.

Also... don't crap on theme park employees finally making decent pay for one season by saying they aren't worth it.  That's gross and so disrespectful, especially in a freaking theme park appreciation message board.

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39 minutes ago, CedarFlags said:

Also... don't crap on theme park employees finally making decent pay for one season by saying they aren't worth it.  That's gross and so disrespectful, especially in a freaking theme park appreciation message board.

I'm not crapping on them.  I don't think they deserve to get 50-100% increases to their pay, just like no one ever does (the standard annual cost of living adjustment is approximately 2%).  Yes, some do go above and beyond to provide an exceptional guest experience, but you can certainly not say that about some 14-17 year old (I would argue most) park employees, especially at major chains.

And it doesn't take an economist to realize that such a drastic increase in labor costs in such a short amount of time will also cause drastic increase in prices (and/or increased automation/reduction of staff and/or reduction in operating hours as we saw with many CF parks).  Slower, phased-in pay increases can be more naturally absorbed and result in less drastic increases for the end consumer.

Try to take emotion out of it and think of it logically.

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I mean if you go back to like 2017 and were to compile a list of park related incidents similar to these I'm sure the list was be nearly identical. Minus the tragic accident on the rapids ride (which unfortunately is also something that has happened on other rides before) everything listed here has happened before and will happen again, pretty much ever year. There will be guest related incidents in the parks, attractions will have unexpected closures, new rides will have issues and delays, sketchy carnival rides will still be sketchy carnival rides.

2021 feels like a weird year mostly because of staffing issues and massive crowds returning to the parks, but most of the incidents listed here aint nothing new.

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6 hours ago, Mike240SX said:

I'm not crapping on them.  I don't think they deserve to get 50-100% increases to their pay, just like no one ever does (the standard annual cost of living adjustment is approximately 2%).  Yes, some do go above and beyond to provide an exceptional guest experience, but you can certainly not say that about some 14-17 year old (I would argue most) park employees, especially at major chains.

And it doesn't take an economist to realize that such a drastic increase in labor costs in such a short amount of time will also cause drastic increase in prices (and/or increased automation/reduction of staff and/or reduction in operating hours as we saw with many CF parks).  Slower, phased-in pay increases can be more naturally absorbed and result in less drastic increases for the end consumer.

Try to take emotion out of it and think of it logically.

Theme parks in this country have been running low on staff for years and overly reliant on foreign labor since at least the 1990s. The pandemic and the lack of imports just excacerbated the problems the industry created for itself for its "rightfully deserved" (LMAOOOOOOOOO) profits. I too have thought about it, so much so I've written about it and researched about it using stuff like the Department of Labor's statistics. This was inevitable, especially as parks extended their seasons and hours. 

Anyways, I was thinking of posting something because I haven't enjoyed going to parks this year. It feels like opening day every single day, which is to say "a hot mess". Combined with some existing COVID restrictions at some parks and or just flat out insane guests since people forgot how to interact with each other in person, and I have little or no desire to go to more places this year. The only park/park resort in the country that feels normal is Universal Studios Orlando. 

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I do not see any of these issues being an Anomaly in 2021.  If you want, you could list every incident from every year and find just as much, if not more, incidents to deem it a "summer from hell".

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7 hours ago, Mike240SX said:

I'm not crapping on them.  I don't think they deserve to get 50-100% increases to their pay, just like no one ever does (the standard annual cost of living adjustment is approximately 2%).  Yes, some do go above and beyond to provide an exceptional guest experience, but you can certainly not say that about some 14-17 year old (I would argue most) park employees, especially at major chains.

And it doesn't take an economist to realize that such a drastic increase in labor costs in such a short amount of time will also cause drastic increase in prices (and/or increased automation/reduction of staff and/or reduction in operating hours as we saw with many CF parks).  Slower, phased-in pay increases can be more naturally absorbed and result in less drastic increases for the end consumer.

Try to take emotion out of it and think of it logically.

"Take emotion out of it and think about it logically". 

You are arguing to take emotion out of something while injecting a healthy amount of it into the discussion by saying the kids aren't worth what they are being paid, while giving no real evidence of anything. I'd argue that these employees are ABSOLUTELY worth what they are being paid, because the other option is for the parks to not be open. You are also comparing these raises (50-100%) to cost of living adjustments (2%, your stated figured) for something that is apples to oranges. These are seasonal employees for the most part, who made minimum wage before. This 50-100% increase isn't someone going from 60k to 120k a year in a career-type job. It's way less, and, again, it's seasonal for the vast majority. 

It doesn't take an economist to see that this is basic supply and demand and employees are very much in demand. Without them, the parks have no profit. And yes, you are crapping on them. Which is fine, I guess, but at least own that's what you are doing. 

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24 minutes ago, jarmor said:

I do not see any of these issues being an Anomaly in 2021.  If you want, you could list every incident from every year and find just as much, if not more, incidents to deem it a "summer from hell".

This... 100% this.

The only thing about this year that seems totally unprecedented is the staffing situation. 
 

There are horrible accidents that kill people every year and chain lift snaps and cable snaps are even more common, it just so happens that right now some of them are on high-profile rides. Demon at Great America has been closed for weeks with a chain snap but it’s not on the list because literally nobody cares.

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3 minutes ago, coasterbill said:

Demon at Great America has been closed for weeks with a chain snap but it’s not on the list because literally nobody cares.

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Seriously though, it's hard to remember everything but here are a few things from just the last few years:

- Quimera derailed and killed 2 people

- Two frisbees overseas broke apart and killed a bunch of people

- Valravn crashed in the station

- Boulder Dash crashed in the station

- Top Thrill Dragster was closed for half the summer in 2019 and a year or two prior it basically vaporized a brake run and was closed for a month then too

- Steel Vengeance trails collided on opening day

- Hersheypark and Kennywood are determined to have one or more coasters closed for entire seasons at a time because they suck basically every year. A band new hypercoaster is closed for an entire season+

- Xcellerator closed for half-a-year

- A frisbee at the Ohio State Fair broke apart and killed people

- An inverted coaster in Scotland totally derailed and crashed into a nearby kiddy ride

- The Smiler accident, people lose limbs

- Daytona Beach coaster derails because of an elaborate cover-up to hide all maintenance issues

- Tons of people drown in wave pools

- Tons of fights every Halloween everywhere

- Disney Skyliner crashes a hilarious number of times

- El Loco at the Adventuredome throws a rider

- Crackhead builds a waterslide that decapitates a child in Kansas City

- Castle Park log ride did exactly what Great Adventure's just did

- Timber Mountain Log Ride did exactly what Great Adventure's just did

- A kid died on Hoosier Hurricane because of a pre-existing condition

- Star City burned to the ground entirely

- An entire section of Europa Park burned to the ground

- Six Flags over Georgia's train bursts into flames

... and I'm forgetting a ton.

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Yeah I've seen many different places describing 2021 as more eventful than most, but personally I think it's just a result of social media and culture gradually becoming more over-reactionary over time.

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Just adding to what most of you have said, yeah, this is not out of the ordinary at all.  Roller coasters are giant big machines and there are more and more of them so there will be more of them breaking down or having issues.  Throw in the supply chain issues on top of everything else mentioned and yeah, that's where we're at.  Can't wait till 2025 when we look back at this thread from whatever horror is going on then and laugh!

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I didn't mention that since it was awhile ago but I absolutely thought of the year that New Texas Giant threw and killed someone and RMC shut down all of their coasters following the incident, then the next day a Shoot The Rapids fell all the way back down the lift hill, flipped over and then held a boat full of people underwater in restraints that they couldn't get out of. It's a miracle nobody died from that.

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I'm really shocked that no one has mentioned the thousands of car accidents that have happened this year shockingly involving people traveling to theme parks. It's shocking. This summer has been horrible. I'm shocked.

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