For an amusement park, Universal Studios Japan does not play around.
Business has been booming for Universal Studios Japan (USJ) in the past few years, thanks to an overall increase in foreign tourism and an aggressive new strategy of rapidly creating new attractions for regulars to come back time and time again.
Earlier this year they opened The Flying Dinosaur, a roller coaster based on the Jurassic Park movies. On this ride passengers are sitting face-down suspended from their backs as if they were being clutched in the talons of a pterodactyl…
Excuse me a moment, I’m just basking in the fact that I spelled that right on the first try.
However, the amusement park racket is a risky one. A single accident can turn a prosperous tourist spot into a ghost town overnight. So you can imagine they are taking every precaution to avoid such a fate.
One way is by prohibiting riders of The Flying Dinosaur to hold anything during the experience. This roller coaster runs for a kilometer over several walkways and common areas of the park and people could be seriously injured by an object released from above at speeds around 270 kilometers per hour (168 miles per hour).
However, at about 11 a.m. on 11 November, one high school student boarded The Flying Dinosaur with his smartphone. As the ride was making its initial ascent an eagle-eyed operator spotted the device in his possession and hit the emergency stop, leaving all 32 passengers dangling from the motionless steel dinosaur.
Since the ride was just getting started, the stop wasn’t too abrupt and no injuries were reported. However, this being a new ride, many riders may have endured line-ups measured in hours only to get stopped at the threshold. Not only that, but they were left hanging there for 40 minutes as the staff climbed up to extract the one student who broke the rules. The ride was restarted afterwards.
Readers of the news online were surprisingly sober-minded in their condemnation of the student.
“If you want to have a good time, you should show the minimum necessary manners.”
“Let’s strictly observe the rules of the park and its attractions, there is a possibility that someone will get hurt by falling objects.”
“He’s ruining it for the junior classes who might not be able to go and will be sad.”
“If one person doesn’t follow the rules, everyone is in danger.”
“If the smartphone falls and hits another customer, that’s a big problem. Ejecting him is reasonable and he should even be banned.”
“That student is an idiot, but at least it showed us that the USJ staff is doing their jobs.”
“I hope the student’s school follows through with further punishment.”
“It was amazing that the USJ staff could spot that so quickly.”
I mean, they’re totally right. It’s just, I’ve come to expect a little more subversion from internet comments.
According to reports, the student was at USJ on a school trip and was immediately removed from the park after the incident. His discipline from the school is unclear, but with Japanese schools often giving their own punishments in cases like this, the riders of The Flying Dinosaur might not have been the only ones suspended that day.