Drop tower

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The Giant Drop at Dreamworld
The High Fall at Movie Park Germany
A drop tower at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk entitled the "Double Shot"
Sky Ranch Philippines

A drop tower or big drop is a type of amusement park ride incorporating a central structure or tower. Drop towers vary in height, passenger capacity, lift type, and brake type. Many are custom-made, although there are some mass-produced designs. The most widely sold drop towers have been manufactured by Intamin and S&S Sansei, however Larson International and Funtime have their own drop tower models available as well. Riders initially experience a sense of weightlessness via free fall, followed by rapid deceleration, after which a magnetic brake system brings the ride to a stop. The entire experience generally lasts less than one minute.

With most drop towers, a gondola carrying riders is lifted to the top of a large vertical structure, then released to free-fall down the tower. Magnetic brakes immediately slow the gondola as it approaches the bottom half of the tower. Some attractions have expanded on the design concept, with features such as rotating gondolas or several bounces before coming to rest.[citation needed] At Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, for example, Falcon's Fury takes riders to the top of a 335’ (102 m)-tall tower before an automated system slowly rotates the seats forward to face the ground, greatly enhancing the sensation of ‘falling’; the seats automatically return to their normal, forward-facing position just before the end of the ride.

Most drop towers require child riders to meet a minimum height; limits vary widely depending upon the nature of the tower, with a 9-metre (30 ft) tower for smaller children at least 95 centimetres (37 in) tall,[1] and a 37-metre (120 ft) tower for children at least 130 centimetres (51 in) tall.[2]

These rides also have weight restrictions. Not following the restrictions is what caused Tyre Sampson's death on March 24, 2022, at ICON Park in Orlando, Florida.[3]

Drop tower designs[edit]

Mass-produced tower rides include:

Tallest drop towers[edit]

bold Denotes drop tower is or was once the tallest in the world
italic Denotes drop tower is either no longer operating or removed
Rank Name Park Location Drop height Structural height Manufacturer Record holder
1 Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom Six Flags Great Adventure Jackson Township, New Jersey, United States 126 metres (415 ft) 139 metres (456 ft) Intamin July 2014 – Present
Orlando FreeFall ICON Park Orlando, Florida, United States 120 metres (400 ft) 130 metres (430 ft) Funtime
2 Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom Six Flags Magic Mountain Valencia, California, United States 120 metres (400 ft) 126 metres (415 ft) Intamin July 2012 – July 2014
3 The Giant Drop Dreamworld Coomera, Queensland, Australia 115 metres (377 ft) 120 metres (390 ft) Intamin December 1998 – July 2012
4 Highlander Hansa-Park Sierksdorf, Germany 103 metres (338 ft) 120 metres (390 ft) Funtime
5 La Venganza del Enigma Parque Warner Madrid Madrid, Spain 100 metres (328 ft) 115 metres (377 ft) S&S Worldwide
Blue Fall Sea Paradise Yokohama, Japan 100 metres (328 ft) 107 metres (351 ft) Intamin
6 Donjon de l'Extrême Nigloland Dolancourt, France 95 metres (312 ft) 105 metres (344 ft) Funtime
7 Falcon's Fury Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Tampa Bay, Florida, United States 94 metres (310 ft) 102 metres (335 ft) Intamin
8 Voltrum Bayern-Park Reisbach, Germany 93 metres (305 ft) 109 metres (358 ft) Funtime
9 AtmosFear Liseberg Gothenburg, Sweden 90 metres (295 ft) 116 metres (381 ft) Intamin
10 Hurakan Condor PortAventura Park Salou, Spain 87 metres (285 ft) 115 metres (377 ft) Intamin
12 UFO Gyro Drop Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village Yuchr Shiang, Nantou County, Taiwan 85 metres (280 ft) 110 metres

(360 ft)

Intamin
11 Global Burj Global Village Dubai, United Arab Emirates 85 metres (279 ft) Un­known Un­known
13 Drop Tower Kings Island Mason, Ohio, United States 83 metres (272 ft) 96 metres (315 ft) Intamin
14 Big Tower Beto Carrero World Penha, Santa Catarina, Brazil 80 metres (264 ft) 100 metres (328 ft) Intamin
15 Drop Tower Kings Dominion Doswell, Virginia, United States 80 metres (264 ft) 93 metres (305 ft) Intamin
The Plunge Kongeparken Ålgård, Rogaland, Norway 80 metres (264 ft) Un­known Funtime

Other notable examples[edit]

Injuries and accidents[edit]

  • On August 22, 1999, 12-year-old Joshua Smurphat fell to his death on Drop Zone: Stunt Tower (Drop Tower) at Paramount's Great America (California's Great America) after slipping from the ride's restraints, which were still locked at the end of the ride.[4][5]
  • On June 21, 2007 (park operating as Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom), a 13-year-old girl from Louisville, Kentucky had both feet cut off above the ankle when one of the ride's cables snapped during operation.[6] Following the incident, all Intamin towers were temporarily closed and the Carowinds model was found to have stretched cables.[7]
  • On February 24, 2012, 14-year-old Gabriella Yukari Nichimura died in an accident at Hopi Hari, Vinhedo, São Paulo State, Brazil. She fell from the drop tower ride "La Tour Eiffel" suffering cranial trauma and died on the way to the hospital. Initial investigations suggested the possibility of mechanical failure in the restraint latch.[8][needs update]
  • On the evening of January 3, 2018, 8 persons (five females and three males aged 12 to 18, including Danica Villas) were injured suffering "cervical spasms" after Fun Drop Tower Ride at the musement park Circle of Fun in Quezon Memorial Circle suddenly dropped.[9][10]
  • On the evening of September 5, 2021, 6-year-old Wongel Estifanos died on the Haunted Mine Drop ride after being separated from her seat and falling 110 ft (34 m) to her death. It has been determined that the girl was actually sitting on top of her seatbelt rather than the seatbelt being tight on her lap. A forensic pathologist identified the cause of death as blunt-force trauma. The official report by the Colorado Division of Oil and Public Safety blamed a lack of procedures and inadequate training of two ride operators to ensure that Estifanos was properly buckled in.[11][12] Before the accident, the ride had had four annual safety inspections per Colorado Amusement Rides and Devices Regulations (7 CCR 1101-12) and was certified to have corrected any issues.[12] Following the incident the park temporarily closed.[13][14][15] Colorado Senate Bill 03-253 allows parents to release their minor’s rights to sue for negligence.[16][17]
  • On the evening of March 24, 2022, 14-year-old Tyre Sampson from Missouri fell to his death from the world's tallest drop tower ride, the Orlando FreeFall drop tower at ICON Park in Florida. The brand new attraction had been open for only three months at the time of the accident.[18] On April 18, 2022, it was discovered that the safety sensors of two seats were intentionally modified to generate a "go" signal for larger and therefore unsafe harness-to-seat gaps, presumably to accommodate larger riders, a condition that ultimately led to Tyre's death, since he slipped through that gap toward the end of the drop when the ride slowed down.[citation needed] This is only one major factor among others that may have caused the tragedy, including the fact that Tyre weighed 320 pounds (144 kg) and the ride manual stipulates a weight limit of 287 pounds (130 kg).[citation needed] On October 6, 2022, it was announced that the Orlando Free Fall tower would be dismantled.[19] The owner plans to have the demolition finished by the anniversary of the victim’s death.[20]
  • On September 5, 2022, a drop tower in India failed to slow down then crashed to ground, injuring 16.[21]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ride with 95cm height requirement". Archived from the original on July 2, 2012. Retrieved July 8, 2012.
  2. ^ "Ride with 130cm height requirement". Archived from the original on April 3, 2016. Retrieved July 8, 2012.
  3. ^ Planas, Antonio; Fitzsimons, Tim (April 18, 2022). "Operator 'mis-adjustments' made Florida ride where teen fell to his death unsafe, officials say". NBC News.
  4. ^ "Thrill ride lawsuits". Courier-Journal. June 23, 2007. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  5. ^ "Drop Zone death: no charges, no explanation". RideAccidents.com. November 5, 1999. Archived from the original on April 20, 2017. Retrieved July 5, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  6. ^ "Girl who had feet severed by amusement park ride, in stable condition…". archive.ph. 2013-01-27. Archived from the original on 2013-01-27. Retrieved 2022-05-04.
  7. ^ "Carowinds Thrill Ride Closed for Inspection". (Wire Report). The Herald Online. June 22, 2007. Archived from the original on 2016-02-08. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
  8. ^ "Adolescente More Após Acidente em Parque de Diversões no Interior de SP" [Teenager Dies after an Amusement Park Accident in the Interior of SP] (in Portuguese). 24 February 2012. Retrieved 2021-08-30.
  9. ^ Tupas, Emmanuel (Jan 5, 2018). "8 youths hurt in carnival ride glitch". The Philippine Star.
  10. ^ "Teens injured in QC Circle of Fun ride". TV5 Network. January 3, 2018.
  11. ^ Candelaria, Esteban (September 24, 2021). "Colorado Springs girl killed on mine drop ride was not strapped in, report says". The Gazette (Colorado Springs). Archived from the original on October 1, 2021. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  12. ^ a b Amusement Rides and Devices Program. "ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION REPOR" (PDF). Colorado Division of Oil and Public Safety. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 24, 2021. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  13. ^ Smith, Logan. "Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park Closes After Child Dies On Thrill Ride - CBSN Denver". denver.cbslocal.com. Archived from the original on 2021-09-08. Retrieved 2021-09-06.
  14. ^ Morfitt, Karen (September 10, 2021). "'She Reminds Me Tomorrow Isn't Promised': Family Friend Remembers Wongel Estifanos, 6-Year-Old Who Died On Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park Ride". Archived from the original on September 22, 2021.
  15. ^ Allen, Rich (September 7, 2021). "Glenwood Caverns' Haunted Mine Drop passed regulations inspection less than three months before death of 6-year-old". www.postindependent.com. Archived from the original on September 12, 2021.
  16. ^ Ray K. Erku (September 11, 2021). "In Colorado, waiver law limits legal options for amusement park riders". www.postindependent.com. Archived from the original on September 12, 2021.
  17. ^ Chlouber; Arnold; Entz; Johnson S.; Kester; McElhany; Taylor; White; Brophy; Crane; Garcia; Hefley; Miller; Rippy; Spence; Stengel; Weddig. "SENATE BILL 03-253" (PDF). Colorado General Assembly. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 15, 2004. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  18. ^ Hanna, Melissa Alonso and Jason (2022-03-25). "A 14-year-old fell to his death from the new drop tower ride at Florida's ICON Park, authorities say". CTVNews. Retrieved 2022-03-25.
  19. ^ "Orlando Free Fall to be torn down following teen's death". 7 October 2022.
  20. ^ "Demolition of Orlando FreeFall ride begins this week". www.fox35orlando.com. Retrieved 2023-04-04.
  21. ^ "Carnival ride plummets 50 feet, terrifying moment caught on video". 5 September 2022.