Lawsuit Reveals Volcano Bay Water Slide Injured Over A Hundred, Paralyzing One

lebeau

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Lawsuit Reveals Universal Parks Attraction Injured Over A Hundred, Paralyzing One

The theme park industry is trying to find its footing as it tries to get back to doing something resembling business as usual. However, Universal Orlando Resort in addition to having to figure out the future is also dealing with the past. A New York tourist is suing the resort after becoming paralyzed on the Punga Racers water slide at the Volcano Bay water park. And while this one guest is the only one to be so severely injured, the same slide has reportedly caused as many as 115 other injuries to guests, and even people testing the ride.

In July 2019, James Bowen, visiting Universal Orlando from New York, claims his head was violently snapped back as he went through a wave of water at the end of the ride, leading to him being paralyzed. While Florida law only requires the reporting of injuries that result in hospital stays of 24 hours or more, the Orlando Sentinel reports that internal documents at Universal Orlando Resort have revealed up to 115 other injuries that run the gamut from nosebleeds to back and neck pain and at least one concussion that all came from the same attraction.

The court documents revealing the series of injuries were ordered sealed by the judge handling the lawsuit but were apparently still publicly available earlier this week.

In addition to the lists of injuries, the documents also showed some of the internal discussions within Universal about the ride. A November 2017 report from ProSlide, the Canadian manufacturer of the water slide, revealed that during one test run the mat bounced into the face of the tester, knocking their head back and requiring a first aid check-up. An October 2018 test also saw the tester hit their head. Punga Racers underwent a recent refurbishment and reopened this year without mats and with riders going down feet first rather than head first.

Without having other water slide logs to compare it to, it's difficult to know how the injuries on Punga Racers compare. The list covers nearly every injury reported to Universal Orlando, no matter how minor, and by their very nature water slides are difficult to control. It's also impossible to know how what the ultimate cause of these injuries was. It could have been something inherent to the attraction but it could also have been due to riders not following ride instructions.

The documents don't include any listings for injuries for this year, so it's possible the recent changes to the ride have been what was needed and things will work much more smoothly at Volcano Bay going forward. The water park is, along with the rest of Universal Orlando Resort, now open for business, but with limited capacity, social distancing, and mask requirements in place.
 

Disneyhead'71

Well-Known Member
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They recently had a different company (not ProSlide) rebuild the splash downs and they changed them from mat slide to body slides. And there is some litigation going on with ProSlide regarding several aspects of Volcano Bay.
 

Disneyhead'71

Well-Known Member
Here is what Punga Racers' splash downs originally looked like (when the accidents happened).



The splash downs have been rebuilt and now look like this.



The weight limit has returned to 300 lbs.
 

lebeau

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
In addition to the change in the splash-down, I believe the slides were also changed from a head-first mat slide to a feet-first body slide.

-Rob

That change was covered in the article towards the end. If this is the slide I am thinking of, I rode it when it was still head-first mat and did not enjoy the experience. The landing nearly knocked my contacts out of my eyeballs.
 

Archie123

Well-Known Member
That change was covered in the article towards the end. If this is the slide I am thinking of, I rode it when it was still head-first mat and did not enjoy the experience. The landing nearly knocked my contacts out of my eyeballs.

That was a very short and sudden stop for sure. There definitely might be some settlement coming for the lawsuit.
 

Queen of the WDW Scene

Well-Known Member
In the Parks
No
Potential injury is why I personally don't go on many water rides.
Going feet first and it being a body slide I'd go on it.
Going face first on a race mat I would not.
I tried one face first race mat slide and it scared the heck out of me because I came up off the slide several times and had no control.
Feet first body slides at least you have some sense of control.
I won't go on those drop slides or the body slide that drops you into a toilet bowl either.
I will go on any roller coaster though lol.
 
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