Back in March, tragedy struck at ICON Park in Orlando when teenager Tyre Sampson fell from the FreeFall drop tower ride and died. The attraction has been closed since that time, as the accident and the attraction were investigated. Now, we know what’s going to happen to the drop tower, it will be coming down.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the FreeFall attraction is now set to be torn down. The decision was made by Orlando Slingshot, the company that owned the ride, not the park where the ride was located, but ICON Park released a statement in support of the decision.
Exactly when that will happen has not been confirmed, but certainly nobody will ever ride the attraction again. It’s understandable, even if the attraction was found to be perfectly safe, there would almost certainly be a lot of people unwilling to ride it again, and the amusement park is probably better off moving on to something new.
On the evening of March 24, 2022, Tyre Sampson went up the 430 foot tall Free Fall, the tallest drop tower of its kind. He fell from the ride while it was high in the air. He was taken to a local hospital where he later died from his injuries.
It was later determined that adjustments had been made to some of the seats, allowing safety sensors to open wider than they should have been allowed. Exactly how and when the adjustments were made is unclear and is still under investigation. In addition, Sampson reportedly weighed in at 383 pounds, significantly more than the weight limit of the ride.
Amusement park rides are designed to give riders the thrill of danger, without ever actually putting the riders in any danger. Unfortunately, we’ve seen a surprising number of cases recently where the danger of thrill rides became all too real. Several people were injured on a roller coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure when the ride malfunctioned. That attraction, El Torro, has since been found to have significant damage and it could very well meet the same fate as FreeFall depending on the extent of the damage and the ability to repair it..
We’ve also seen a pair of roller coaster deaths this year, with a woman in Germany falling from the vehicle during the ride last month, and another accident in Denmark in July leading to the death of a 14-year-old.
The decision to remove FreeFall entirely is likely to be seen as the right call by most guests. While there were, almost certainly, fans of the ride, if it remained it was always going to remind people, especially the family of the victim, of the tragic event. The investigation into what happened here and who is at fault is ongoing, but with the end of this ride one chapter is closed.
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CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis. Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.