ALTOONA, Iowa -- Several Adventureland visitors said they've had a pretty scary experience with a ride called the Lighthouse, which was manufactured in 1976.
“I remember the gentleman coming by and pushing the bar shut, and I remember hearing it click and he pulled on it to make sure it was shut, and I didn't think anything more about it. The ride started and we were having fun, and the next thing we know we are up in the air and the bar comes loose,” Dawn Johnston said.
Johnston said this happened to her about 19 years ago, and she and her kids haven't been on the ride since.
“It took everything I had to hold it shut,” Johnston said.
Travis Baker and his daughter Gracie had the same experience on Sunday, before posting about it on Facebook and reporting it to Adventureland, prompting an investigation.
“In our testing, we found that it was very difficult to unlatch the lap restraint even under normal circumstances, let alone while the ride was in motion,” James Borwey, Safety Manager for State of Iowa Amusement Ride Division said.
Borwey said they’ve never before received a complaint about this ride.
“One of the things we did today is we reviewed the maintenance records. Adventureland has a daily inspection protocol not only from the ride operator but the maintenance staff, also. We reviewed those and could not find an issue with the lap bar. The State of Iowa does an annual inspection and that is specifically one of the things we always look at, is the lap restraint mechanism, and we found nothing when we did our inspection in April,” Borwey said.
A representative for Adventureland said, “We take guest safety seriously. In response to an email concern expressed by a guest yesterday, Adventureland immediately conducted an inspection of the lap bars on the Lighthouse ride. The Adventureland safety team found all lap bars to be in good working order and further asked state regulators to conduct their own review. This morning, Adventureland underwent and passed a safety inspection of its Lighthouse ride by the State of Iowa. This added layer of safety went above and beyond what is required by law for ride safety. Adventureland is a high-quality company with a good safety record. Adventureland is constantly checking mechanical and electrical equipment on all our rides. Our goal is to ensure Adventureland visitors have a fun and safe visit.”
Baker said he is concerned the inspectors didn’t find anything wrong with the ride and the ride operator told him he was aware of the problem.
“I am concerned that Adventureland is making it look like I did something wrong when riding the ride to make a safety malfunction," Baker said. "I feel we have done our part to report the issue, so if and when this happens in the future, they can not deny these safety issues any longer."
Borwey said anyone else who may experience a problem with the ride can submit a complaint online.