Cedar Point has announced that, after 19 years, the Top Thrill Dragster will close for good. The attraction is the second-tallest rollercoaster in the world, standing at 420 feet (the Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson Township, New Jersey, is 456 feet tall) and was consistently one of the park’s most popular rides. In addition to its height, the ride was well-known for its speed—via the complicated, problematic hydraulic launching system, its passengers were propelled to 120 miles per hour in only 3.8 seconds. The ride lasts for a mere 17 seconds. If you were injured on this or another ride, reach out to one of our qualified amusement park ride attorneys today.
Why the Top Thrill Dragster Closed
The rollercoaster, however, faced numerous mechanical issues. Most recently, a small metal object flew off a track and stuck a woman in the head, sending her to intensive care with a severe brain injury. After a five-month investigation, state investigators found signs of wear and tear, loose bolts, a section of track that had been deformed, and the spot where a metal plate detached from the ride. The ride remained closed after the August 15, 2021, incident.
In addition to this accident, the ride was often closed for maintenance and, startlingly, had issues with the train cars getting stuck at the top of the tower. In these instances, cars would have to be lowered back down to the ground the way they came up, going backward.
Though the Top Thrill Dragster as it is now known is shutting down permanently, the park promised that “our team is hard at work, creating a new and reimagined ride experience for the rollercoaster.” Whether this means the new ride will retain the Dragster’s fast and extreme character or if a whole new adventure is in store remains to be seen. The Dragster’s current location in the center of Cedar Point makes it prime real estate for a new premiere rollercoaster.
The park may decide to replace the Dragster with a ride that is safer and easier to maintain while still being new and exciting. For example, the Maverick, a ride that opened in 2007 and sits in the park’s Wild West area, is a more traditional coaster but utilizes tunnels, lights, and a launch in the middle of the ride to keep the experience fresh.
Investigation into August Incident
The Ohio Department of Agriculture, which oversees and conducts inspections of amusement rides, found in a February 2022 report that Cedar Point was unaware of any mechanical or maintenance issues with the Top Thrill Dragster on the day of the August 2021 incident and had no reason to believe that the ride was faulty. As a result, the report found that it had not acted illegally, and no sanctions were recommended against Cedar Point.
Amusement Parks’ Duties to Patrons
Ohio law establishes that an owner or occupier of premises, such as an amusement park, owes a business invitee a duty of ordinary care in maintaining the premises in a reasonably safe condition so that customers are not unreasonably exposed to danger. However, a land owner is not responsible for open and obvious dangers, so invitees should be reasonably expected to discover and protect themselves from the threat.
While the state of Ohio found that Cedar Point did not act unlawfully, the severity of the woman’s injury highlights the need to hold amusement park operators accountable for the operation of the attractions. Visitors’ safety should be the top priority for parks like Cedar Point; they must conduct routine maintenance and inspections to ensure incidents like this do not occur and comply with local law.
Contact an Attorney if You Were Injured on an Amusement Park Ride
If you have an injury resulting from an amusement park’s carelessness or negligence, you may be able to file a personal injury claim to recover financial compensation. Contact the experienced attorneys at Charles Boyk Law Offices for a free consultation with one of our skilled local attorneys. We will take a detailed look into your injuries and discuss your potential legal options with you.