State ride inspections exempt Busch Gardens and Disney - WFLA News Channel 8

State ride inspections exempt Busch Gardens and Disney

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16 people were stranded on the Cheetah Hunt roller coaster at Busch Gardens Wednesday. TFR photo 16 people were stranded on the Cheetah Hunt roller coaster at Busch Gardens Wednesday. TFR photo

Busch Gardens engineers are still running the "Cheetah Hunt" roller coaster without anyone on it to figure out what went wrong Wednesday evening after more than a dozen people became stranded on the ride during a rain storm.

State inspectors are accustom to testing rides, like those at the state fair. But theme parks with more than one-thousand full-time employees, like Busch Gardens and Disney World, are exempt.

Allan Harrison with the Florida Department of Agriculture says, "There is no requirement for us to go in and do an inspection or do an investigation because once again they are exempt from our statues; they have the expertise, they have the engineers on staff that look at the rides."

But through a memo of understanding (MOU) with the state, the big theme parks in Florida are subjected to an annual inspection that takes about a week.

"They prove to us that they do have these standards and they are adhering to the standards of the MOU," Harrison added, "that they do have these safety inspections, what type of inspections they are conducting each and every day, weekly, monthly, yearly and once again it makes your head pop back how much they do."

The theme parks must also submit quarterly reports to the State Agriculture Department, documenting anytime someone is hurt on a ride even if it's minor.

Harrison went on to say, "it's mainly slips and falls, it is mainly what we see, people have issues while they are standing in line in the heat, we review it and if it is a serious accident we want that reported immediately and they usually do that forthwith."

A check of the state's exempt facilities report finds that in the past ten years Busch Gardens has only had two reportable incidents.

None on the "Cheetah Hunt," while a theme park like Disney with many more visitors and rides had far more reportable incidents.

In the meantime, officials at Busch Gardens say the "Cheetah Hunt" won't re-open until the figure what went wrong Wednesday.

Copyright 2014 WFLA. All rights reserved.

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