Theme Park Shuts Down Ferris Wheel Game After New Ride Feature Draws ‘Mass Shooter’ Comparisons
An Orlando theme park has shut down its latest ride feature after many online drew mass shooting comparisons.
With a new in-ride game feature called Bullseye Blast, ICON Park's 400-foot, 18-minute Ferris wheel ride, called The Wheel, offered riders unlimited laser shots at 50 rooftop targets scattered throughout the amusement park. Guests who wished to play the game could do so for an additional $5.95 game fee.
The game feature essentially allowed guests to point a gun-like laser shooter at various real-world points across the outdoor park, where unwilling participants (i.e. other guests) could be seen walking around the park.
Unlike similar laser games at various laser tag arenas and rides such as Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin at Walt Disney World, which take place in enclosed environments and feature fantastical elements such as robots, aliens and zombies, the Bullseye Blast took place in and interacted with elements in a real-world environment, mimicking a sniper's point of view.
Online, the ride feature was criticized for being insensitive and hitting too close to home in the wake of an endless string of mass shootings and active shooter crises in the U.S.
Others on social media called the ride feature tone-deaf, especially considering its proximity to Orlando's Pulse, a gay nightclub where 49 were killed by an active shooter in June 2016.
"Following recent, well-received innovations from The Wheel at ICON Park, which provide customized experiences for guests, allowing them to play their own music playlist or listen to Orlando’s history story, the Bullseye Blast game satisfied guests who enjoy gaming, arcades and virtual reality," the theme park said in a statement to Click Orlando. "From capsules, guests use a toy infrared device to compete and hit round, colorful targets on rooftops. The experience was thoroughly tested and well received by guests during a process spanning many months."
"Some non-guests and community members expressed that they considered the toy shooting device used to be insensitive," the statement continued. "The attractions industry has many similar games which use similar shooting devices, so that is what we were limited to when exploring the game. However, we believe that a device can and should be designed which does not offend anyone in the community. We look forward to leading this new innovation."
According to Attractions Magazine, the game wasn't developed specifically for The Wheel. ICON Park decided to implement the game on their attraction after spotting it at a trade show in Tennessee.
For now, ICON Park has "paused" the game feature in pursuit of a new, less questionable design.
However, this isn't the only controversy at ICON Park.
On March 24, 14-year-old Tyre Sampson died at ICON Park after he fell from the park's Orlando Free Fall ride. As the "world's tallest free-standing drop tower," the drop tower descends almost 400 feet at up to 75 mph.
See more reactions to ICON Park's shooting game, below.