Thursday, April 14, 2005

Ohio Child Protective Services Clamps Down at PKI

The enthusiast world's eyes have been focused on Paramount's Kings Island's new coaster, The Italian Job: Stunt Track, featuring special effects that will make riders virtually certain they are watching an absolutely genuine replica of a plastic helicopter on a large pneumatic lift. Additionally, loud noises and flashing lights will convince riders that they are hearing and seeing loud noises and flashing lights that might in some vague way resemble gunshots.

But across the park, ARN&R has learned that Ohio's Department of Job and Family Services has stepped in to protect children from serious abuse and neglect. To that end, department employees have installed what they call "Comfort Cages" on the platform of Son of Beast.

Children being protected from Son of Beast

"We saw it more and more -- kids coming into our offices complaining of the shuffling, the lack of pacing, the sheer abuse of the ride," says Martha Hobner, ODJFS spokesperson. "Over time, we recognized a pattern: they'd all ridden that RCCA/Premier atrocity at Kings Island. We had to step in."

According to Hobner, ODJFS employees will be on hand at the end of the ride queue to spot parents attempting to impose the ride on their children. The parents will be arrested and the children placed in the comfort cages, pictured above. At least weekly, ODJFS drivers will transport the children to a nearby transfer facility, where their parents, after going through an extensive re-education program, will have the opportunity to be reunited with the children.

"But sometimes it doesn't quite work," says Hobner. "That's why we have that 'Not responsible for lost items' sign up."

Reports indicate that ODJFS staffers are considering a similar program for Cedar Point's Mean Streak, citing the ride's tendency to dull children's senses through sheer dullness rather than brutality. Additionally, Congress is reportedly considering legislation that would declare any wooden coaster over 150 feet "totally lame and gimmicky."

--GP (with photojournalism from MOS)