This summer has been one of risks and adventures for my 8-year-old son. Between Six Flags and Wisconsin Dells, he has challenged himself to try daring water slides, dives and rides.
As he gained increasing confidence in these rides, and I carefully observed the height requirements to ensure he was ready, we entered our local carnival with confidence. We walked past the Ferris wheel and other regular rides, deciding that it was time to try a new ride here this summer. The requirement was 48 inches for the Zipper, and my son is 52 inches, so I figured this was the perfect next challenge.
We entered the cage with excitement, but this quickly turned to sheer terror at the first flip. My son immediately flew out from under the restraining bar, flying forward from underneath. As soon as our car flipped back, he flew back, striking his head forcefully on the cushion. He looked at me with an expression I will never forget and said, "Mommy, I don't like this ride!" I immediately knew something was terribly wrong and I had to take action. I held on to him with all my strength and told him we couldn't get out, but that he would be OK.
For the next two minutes (which felt like two hours), I physically restrained him with all my might so that he would not fly around the cage. I screamed to the operator to let us out to no avail. When the ride was over, and we could finally get out, I told the operator what had happened and he responded with a blank stare.
My son and I both sustained minor injuries, which I am confident would have been major had he been riding with another small friend of his size. After this experience, I am incredulous that these rides are allowed to house small children after this event. Moral of the story? Do not rely on the height requirements set in place for carnival rides.