JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Dizzy Dragon ride at the Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair has not been allowed to operate since it failed inspection Thursday, before the fair officially kicked off that evening, due to a list of problems that could compromise rider safety, according to an inspection report.
The ride, which is similar to the spinning teacup ride at Disney, had two missing or broken bolts, according to the inspection report. The report said one of the carts had a door that was misaligned and wouldn’t shut properly. The report also said the door mount was broken.
“This particular ride had a problem with the door that comes down, and the hinge was broken,” explained fair president Bill Olson.
On Monday night, a News4Jax camera was recording as the ride was undergoing necessary repairs so that it can pass the next inspection.
Fair executives said inspectors are a vital part of keeping people safe.
“Safety is always a No. 1 priority, and that’s why the state comes in and inspects these rides. We want to make sure every ride is safe and good to go,” Olson said. “It’s a tall task for the state inspectors. They go through every ride with a fine-toothed comb to make sure everything is ready to go.”
Fair executives want to prevent what happened in 2018 when seven people, including five children, were injured at the Jacksonville fair while riding the Sky Flyer, which malfunctioned. An investigation into that incident revealed the ride was a counterfeit of the actual ride design.
Fairgoers who News4Jax spoke with on Monday said safety is always a concern when it comes to getting on rides.
“Just want to make sure that when they get on, they get off the same way they got on,” said fairgoer Joseph Scott. “Anything manmade can fail, so you have to keep that in the back of your mind. You can’t be naïve.”
“I feel like my first thing is always safety just because of the heights and I have a fear of heights,” fairgoer Cara Bryan said.
As for the Dizzy Dragon ride, fair executives said they plan to have it undergo inspection sometime Tuesday before the fair opens that day. If it passes inspection, it would be allowed to operate starting Tuesday evening.
According to inspection reports, inspectors did find issues with other rides, but those issues appear to be very minor and were quickly corrected before the fair began.
Olson also issued the following statement on ride inspections:
“Safety is our number one priority and it is why the inspection process is in place. It shows us that our inspection system is working.
“State inspectors noted a few items on the Dizzy Dragon ride that needed to be corrected before it would be ready for riders. Belle City Amusements, the company that brings in and manages the rides, has confirmed they have made the needed repairs and have requested state inspectors to re-inspect it tomorrow. The ride has not and will not operate until it passes state inspection.
“All rides are inspected to assure us, and visitors to the Fair, that they will operate at the highest level of safety possible. At this time, all of the rides that are open meet rigorous inspection requirements.
“We invite everyone to come out and enjoy all the Fair has to offer: games, food, concerts, agricultural exhibits, craft beer lounge and more.”
The fair runs through Sunday.