Dollywood has temporarily closed its drop tower ride following the death of a 14-year-old on a similar-style ride in Orlando, Florida, from the same manufacturer.
Tyre Sampson of Missouri died after falling off the Free Fall attraction at Orlando’s ICON Park on Thursday. The ride, which has been closed indefinitely, had been billed as “the world’s tallest free-standing drop tower.”
“Although Dollywood does not have the specific ride involved in this tragic incident, the safety of our guests is our top priority,” said a statement from Dollywood Parks & Resorts public relations director Wes Ramey. “Out of an abundance of caution, and until further details about the accident at ICON Park are known, we have temporarily closed Drop Line, our drop tower ride that was developed by the same manufacturer.”
Ramsey said the Tennessee ride closed Friday morning and its reopening will be reevaluated after the Orlando investigation is complete.
‘SHOCKED AND HEARTBROKEN’: 14-year-old dies in fall from massive drop tower in Florida
Drop tower rides are found at theme parks across the country. USA TODAY reached out to many of them to see what kinds of safety precautions are in place and if any additional checks have been conducted since last week’s incident.
“Our ride has a completely different ride system and a 22-year-safety record,” Tom Schroder, Universal Parks & Resorts vice president of corporate communications, shared on behalf of Universal Orlando Resort. “But we knew our guests would want us to pause while we repeated all our safety and procedural checks. We have done so and the ride is now in operation.”
Valleyfair, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Six Flag Over Texas and Six Flags Over Georgia also noted while their attractions provide similar experiences, they are not the same and are not made by the same manufacturer as the Orlando drop tower.
“Specially trained Maintenance and Operations teams complete daily ride checks before opening the ride each day to ensure we continue to provide the highest standards of safety to our guests and employees,” added Dedra Brown-Harvey, marketing and public relations manager for Six Flags Over Georgia.
Many of the parks, including Dollywood, extended their condolences to Sampson’s family.