Thunder River Rapids Ride
|Thunder River Rapids Ride|
The main rapids section of the Thunder River Rapids Ride.
|Area||Town of Gold Rush|
|Opening date||11 December 1986|
|Closing date||25 October 2016[a]|
|Type||River rafting ride|
|Length||410 m (1,350 ft)|
|Speed||45 km/h (28 mph)|
|Height restriction||120 cm (3 ft 11 in)|
|Website||Thunder River Rapids|
The Thunder River Rapids Ride was a river rapid water ride located in the Town of Gold Rush section of Dreamworld on the Gold Coast, Australia. It was recently Australia's only river rapids ride; however, a previous Rapids ride, The Snowy River Rampage operated at Wonderland Sydney.
After four riders were killed on it in late October 2016, the ride and Dreamworld was closed. On 9 November 2016, Ardent Leisures' CEO announced that the ride would not reopen, and was to be demolished. In October 2017, police recommended that no criminal charges be laid against any person in relation to the deaths.
Gold Rush Country (now known as the Town of Gold Rush) opened on 11 December 1986. The area featured the Eureka Mountain Mine Ride and the Thunder River Rapids Ride. The Thunder River Rapids Ride was among the most popular rides at Dreamworld until its closure
Riders enter a long indoor queue with several switchbacks. The queue then bridges across part of the ride's water storage area before reaching the circular station. This station originally featured a rotating platform which allowed riders to mount and dismount the boats without the need for the boats to stop.
Riders would board one of several six-person circular rafts. The raft is dispatched and the riders travel back past the ride's queue and into a cave. Upon exiting the cave, riders experience the main rapids section of the ride. This section runs alongside a large water catchment which contained the water storage for the Thunder River Rapids Ride. The raft then goes under the Eureka Mountain Mine Ride's station and heads back towards its own station. Before departing the ride, guests are brought back up to the level of the station by a conveyor belt.[dead link]
2016 incident and closure
On 25 October 2016, a malfunction of the Thunder River Rapids Ride resulted in the deaths of four people. This is regarded as the worst accident at an Australian theme park since the 9 June 1979 ghost train ride fire at Luna Park Sydney. For reasons yet to be determined, one of the rafts, which was also occupied, became stuck at the bottom of a conveyor belt that transports the rafts to the area where passengers disembark. Another raft carrying six people then collided with it and bounced backwards into the conveyor belt that transports the raft from the bottom of the ride to the boarding area and was dragged under backwards.
Park operators stopped the ride and started draining the river, over 7 paramedic crews responded to the 000 call along with firefighters and police. The recovery of the bodies went on into the early hours of the next morning with some paramedics requiring counselling due to the trauma of the scene.
Dreamworld released a statement on their website and Facebook page stating:
|“||Dreamworld is currently closed until further notice due to a tragic incident at the park. We are deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic incident; our hearts and thoughts go out to the families involved and their loved ones.||”|
Dreamworld announced that the park would reopen on 28 October for a special memorial service for the victims. However the reopening to the public was subject to discussions with Queensland police as the ride was being treated as a crime scene. The 28 October reopening was cancelled on 27 October.
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate offered his condolences to the families of those affected and extended any support financially and emotionally to all those involved. The then Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull offered his condolences and support, releasing a statement via Twitter; "I'm very saddened by the tragedy at Dreamworld today. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families."
On 29 October the Queensland Government announced a 'blitz' of safety inspections, and an audit of state workplace health and safety laws.
The Busch Gardens Tampa theme park shut its Congo River Rapids ride in response to the incident, until the cause was determined. However, it was later reopened on 26 October after a review and safety check was completed.
On 9 November, Ardent Leisure chief executive Deborah Thomas announced that the ride would be permanently closed, out of respect to the victims and their families, and that they would be invited to help create a memorial in its place.
In a report to the Queensland Coroner in October 2017, Police recommended that no criminal charges be laid against any person.
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"This is about protecting visitors to our theme parks and restoring public confidence in Queensland’s prime tourism assets" – Grace Grace (Queensland Industrial Relations Minister)
- McMah, Lauren (27 October 2016). "US theme park ride shuts down over Dreamworld tragedy". NewsComAu. News Limited. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
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- Stolz, Greg (21 October 2017). "Dreamworld tragedy: Police recommend Coronial hearing ahead of first anniversary of Thunder River Rapids incident". www.couriermail.com.au. News Corp. Retrieved 22 October 2017. (Subscription required (help)).