Worlds of Fun staff works hard to keep rides safe - KCTV5 News

Worlds of Fun staff works hard to keep rides safe

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With warmer temperatures, more screaming thrill-seekers will be hurtled skyward in state-of-the-art roller coasters and water coasters.

And the staffs at the area amusement parks work feverishly to keep the rides safe for everyone.

The summer season begins Thursday at Worlds of Fun with expanded areas.

Wayne Meadows, the Kansas City park's maintenance director, has worked in the theme park industry for 42 years and works closely with the safety department on the park's daily and weekly safety inspections.

"We'll catch up with money later. But if it's a safety issue, we jump on it immediately and we take care of it. We don't let anything build up or fester," Meadows said.

The morning maintenance checks are so meticulous, every piece of equipment down to the bolts holding the coaster carts are tested, tightened and tweaked for the day's thrill-seekers.

"We just don't come in and turn on a key and have it run," Meadows said.

The Patriot, the most popular ride in the park, gets a two-hour inspection daily. Rides for the small fry in Planet Snoopy received new neon seat belts to help ride operators eyeball belt usage.

Keeping a close eye on seat belts is important whether via electronic systems or the human eyeball. In 1995, a teen girl plunged to her death while riding the Timber Wolf. Seat belt safety was an issue in that case.

A Worlds of Fun official promises the newest ride opening later this summer will be safe and fun.

The Steelhawk came to Kansas City from Knott's Berry Farm, where it was called the Windseeker.

The Steelhawk will take people 300 feet in the air and twirl them at up to a 45-degree angle for about 60 seconds.

The ride malfunctioned twice in 2012, most dramatically when a frozen brake left 20 riders stranded for several hours until they could be safely brought down. No one was injured.

Meadows, an engineer by education, has worked in amusement parks all over the world. He says safety is paramount and why he and his 45-member team work so hard.

And the rewards are priceless when park goers have a blast.

"It's exciting. You hear screams from all over the park. For those of us in the industry, that's what it's all about," Meadows said.

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