First of all, a note to mods/admins: I know there is an official Th13teen forum, but I've been thinking about this topic for a while and think it is a serious issue enough that it deserves it's own topic. If it's possible, I'm wondering if the topic could get moved to that forum, but not merged with the general discussion topic as it is an issue I am really concerned about.
By now I'm guessing most people reading have ridden Th13teen. I have, and for the last week have been pondering something set off when I first saw someone having a panic attack being loaded into a paramedics car on Th13teen's opening day.
I'm worried that there may be serious health implications for a minority of people riding. No, I'm not just trying to further Morwenna's marketing myth-making rubbish. For 99.9% of visitors, Th13teen is harmless and no more physically demanding than any other coaster on park.**spoiler alert**
I think the suddenness of the drop section could potentially have very grave consequences for a minority of guests. We all know people occasionally die on rollercoasters due to pre-existing medical conditions, I'm pretty sure it's happened on Nemesis and Oblivion. It's not frequent, but it's still a tragedy, but one that is entirely out of the parks control. Many things could set off a pre-existing medical condition besides rollercoasters.
Here's what's different about 13. I put it to you that there is no other ride in the world where such a high proportion of riders would be completely unaware of a major "shock" section. On nearly every other rollercoaster, including launchers, you can see exactly the movement of the ride from the queue. Indoor coasters are usually relatively tame without a "shock" jolt (Space Mountain, EuroSat, Space Invader). Rock 'n' Rollercoaster does have a launch, but you can clearly see it before you board and prepare yourself.
I guess it is one of the design triumphs, that even from the outside queue I'd still guess at least a third of the guests have no idea what's coming after the second lift, I frequently heard comments from people thinking they were merely re-entering the station. If there was someone who was prone to heart issues in that third, I think the completely unknown sudden shock could cause major damage to the heart, even a heart attack.
A University newsletter says this:
"John Hopkins" wrote:
Emotional shock really can lead to a broken heart. A study at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has demonstrated that sudden emotional stress can result in reversible heart failure... Often, what triggers a heart "break" is an incident far more traumatic than a minor disappointment. Rather, a traumatic event such as a breakup, the death of a loved one, or even the shock of a surprise party can provoke a heart attack in people who don't have heart disease and are otherwise healthy, researchers say.
I don't believe there are any other rides in the world where such a high number of riders are unaware of a major, sudden, and substantial physical shock to the system. Especially without adequate warning that there WILL be some sort of major shock. On Th13teen the warning sign is basically the same one no-one reads on all the other rides.
The only other example I can think of at a stretch could be Tower Of Terror, and I think at least 95% of riders are fully aware it's a drop tower. Even so, I found this:
Teenager sues Disney after suffering heart attack on rollercoaster
A British teenager is suing Disney after she suffered a heart attack which left her brain-damaged while riding on one of its rollercoasters.
Leanne Deacon was 16 when she collapsed after riding the Tower of Terror ride at Disney-MGM studios in Florida during a family holiday.
The schoolgirl had complained of feeling shaky and light-headed when she got off the attraction and paramedics were called when her condition deteriorated further.
Her heart stopped while she was being rushed to hospital but doctors managed to resuscitate her.
However, despite extensive surgery, the youngster suffered brain damage, which means she cannot speak and needs 24-hour care.
Now, three years after the incident, Miss Deacon, 19, and her mother June, have filed a lawsuit in the United States seeking damages from Disney.
In the lawsuit, which is seeking more than £10,000, the Deacons, from Kibworth, Leicestershire, accuse Disney of negligence in the ride's design and operation.
They also claim Disney had failed to adequately warn of risks or provide adequate safety restraints.
They say Disney was operating the ride as a 'common carrier', which invokes a legal doctrine that would impose tougher liability standards in court than theme-park companies in Florida are usually asked to meet regarding safety.
The lawsuit asserts: "The defendant, acting as a common carrier, was required to use reasonable skill to provide everything necessary for safe transportation."
The lawsuit also claims that Miss Deacon was fit and healthy before going on the ride.
She collapsed into a coma after getting off the attraction in July 2005.
She suffered two heart attacks and after being flown back to England spent weeks in the brain injury ward at Leicester General Hospital.
The teenager lost the ability to speak and move and has received round the clock treatment.
The ride was temporarily closed following the incident. Disney World conducted a detailed inspection but determined that nothing had malfunctioned.
Having ridden both rides, I'd make three comparisons.
1. Tower Of Terror is much more clearly signposted about what will happen on the ride.
2. The intensity of the drops on TOT is nowhere near as intense as Th13teens.
3. A MUCH higher percentage of TOT riders will know what happens, as you can see the ride dropping from across the park.
I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on whether you think there are any major health dangers posed by the new ride. Also if there are any other similar ride experiences to this in the world, as I don't believe there are. I'm sorry this post was so long, it's just I am genuinely concerned about this and want someone to put my mind at ease. :)