For and Against: Has ‘The Smiler tragedy’ put you off theme parks?

Two of our writers share their views on whether the tragedy at Alton Towers will put them off theme parks.

All opinions are the writers’ own and are not endorsed by Trident Media or Hertfordshire Students’ Union.


NO! A freak accident: Don’t let it stop you

[Chloe Burrowes | Contributing Writer]

The rollercoaster tragedy which occurred this month at Alton Towers Theme Park has been on everyone’s lips and fingers. The Smiler rollercoaster, designed by psychologists to give hypnotising effects for the ultimate scare factor, came under fire after a carriage with sixteen passengers flew into the back of another at speeds of 50mph.

Alton Towers - The Smiler Advert
Alton Towers – The Smiler Advert

Screams of terror and cries for help were heard after the crash as the ride was instantly closed down and the rescue operation began. I would first like to express my sympathy for anyone involved and the families of those involved at this time and wish them all a speedy recovery.

However, something which has come to my mind is the amount of people who have sworn off roller coasters forever after this unfortunate event. I, for one will not be put off the adrenaline rush of theme parks because of this.  The amount of tweets and Facebook statuses of people vowing never to go on rides again shocked me. How many car accidents do we hear of? Yet, the majority of people would still get in a car. Even, the recent plane crashes won’t put most people off jetting off on their summer holiday. So, why is this any different?

Ollie Burgess, 20 is a fellow adrenaline junkie and got stuck on the Smiler last year. He said: “The experience has not put me off rollercoasters, this is because when we got stuck on the ride it was left at a high point that left us upright, therefore we weren’t in any discomfort. The fact that these rides are working numerous times throughout the day; it is expected for a breakdown to occur.”

However, Burgess did focus on the point that: “It has left me querying safety checks that get carried out to protect us, considering that the ride was said have had issues the days previous to that incident.”

In any of these theme parks, safety is the main priority – they are never going to put someone on something that is unsafe. Obviously, in order to keep everyone safe but more than this for their reputation and public liability costs!

This incident needs to be treated for exactly what it is; a freak accident. It will not happen every day on every rollercoaster; it is very rare and tragic. However, this shouldn’t incite phobias of them, treat it like a tragedy – feel sympathy and compassion for the people involved but don’t let it stop you from enjoying a day at the theme park.


YES! I’m definitely going to think twice

[Alexandra Jungeling | Contributing Writer]

I have always been a big fan of rollercoasters and theme parks. I would go on anything, nothing would phase me, but the recent crash on The Smiler rollercoaster at Alton Towers has really changed my view of them.

I love that hit of adrenaline, and have always found rollercoasters a great way of getting it while, supposedly, being safe. This crash has greatly shaken my view on the safety of theme park attractions, and obviously there is always a risk factor with these things, but this shows just how much potential danger there is.

Not only has The Smiler been closed, a further four rollercoasters have been temporarily put out of action around the country, over safety concerns, including The Saw ride at Thorpe Park. So who knows how safe any of these rollercoasters really are.

 Thorpe Park | Daniel Lewis
Thorpe Park | Daniel Lewis

Alton Towers opened again today, Monday 8th June, having been closed for a full investigation into the crash, which injured 16 people, with 4 in hospital, and one crash victim has had to have their leg amputated. They now believe the crash to be due to fail-safes, that were meant to keep the carriages apart, not working. The carriages were never supposed to be on the same part of the track, therefore the carriages full of people, hitting the empty test carriage, at 53mph, should never have been possible.

I know there is always a risk when doing any of these types of things, but it’s also something people seem to forget or take for granted. Has this crash changed your view on seeking that hit of adrenaline?

I know it’s changed it for me, and I’m definitely going to think twice before doing something with any kind of risk.

Would you still ride The Smiler?

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For and Against: Has ‘The Smiler tragedy’ put you off theme parks?