Monday, May 2, 2016

Merlin, the parent company of Legoland and Orlando Eye, admits fault in major theme park accident

Posted By on Mon, May 2, 2016 at 10:43 AM

  • Photo via West Midlands Ambulance Service
Merlin, the parent company of Legoland Florida and the Orlando Eye, has made an unusual move by admitting it was responsible for a major theme park accident.

The accident took place at Merlin’s U.K.- based Alton Towers on the Smiler coaster, where a ride vehicle containing guests crashed into an empty carriage that was on the track for a test run.

Two guests suffered amputations due to the severe accident that closed the ride for the entire 2015 season.

Investigators said the accident was caused by operator error, claiming a ride-op overrode the ride’s system to send out the train filled with guests. The unprecedented move of admitting fault may be a move to help lessen the blow from the government.

"The company is accepting additional reasonable and practicable measures could have been taken to guard against the safety risk that arose on the day," says Merlin’s legal representative Simon Antrobus.  

A judge overseeing the case warned the company it may have to pay “a very large fine.” The Health and Safety Executive, who is overseeing the case against Merlin, has stated the ride never operated with proper safety measures in place. In 2012, Merlin was fined just over $500,000 after a guest fell over the side of a bridge into a dry moat at its Warwick Castle attraction.

That same attraction saw another death in 2007.

Merlin hasn’t been without issues with its attractions here in Central Florida either. On I-Drive, the Merlin-managed Orlando Eye has been riddled with issues since opening last year. The most famous failure of that attraction saw riders trapped for nearly 3 hours as firefighters attempted to rescue them. No serious injuries have been reported by Merlin at its U.S. based parks.  

Legoland opened with just over 1,000 employees putting it in a unique category that, here in Florida, allows it to self-monitor the safety of its rides. In the most recent quarter, the park reported no injuries.

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