Florida amusement park pauses controversial target shooting game
TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A controversial Orlando amusement park ride is on pause after receiving backlash for being “insensitive,” according to a statement from the park.
ICON Park announced Thursday it would be adding a game called “Bullseye Blast” to The Wheel ride – a 400-foot tall observation wheel that offers views of the Orlando area. According to previous reports, the game was described as a competition for riders to use infrared laser blasters to hit colorful targets positioned on rooftops around Orlando that can be seen from the ride.
According to the park, “the Bullseye Blast game satisfied guests who enjoy gaming, arcades and virtual reality.”
In a statement issued Saturday, park officials said that while the ride had been “well-received” by customers, some had questioned whether it was appropriate following mass shootings at a July 4 parade in a Chicago suburb, an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and a grocery store in Buffalo, New York.
Officials also addressed online criticism describing the game as a “mass shooting simulator.”
“Some non-guests and community members expressed that they considered the toy shooting device used to be insensitive,” the park said. “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.”
The park said Saturday it would pause the “current version” of the game until it can pursue a new design that delivers the same level of fun for guests,” in a way that the entire community can embrace.”
Controversy has surrounded the park, which is located along Orlando’s International Drive, since 14-year-old Tyre Sampson of Missouri fell from the Free Fall tower and died earlier this year. An autopsy later found he fell more than 70 feet, which caused internal injuries and injuries to his head, neck and torso.
The free-fall ride has been closed since the death, and Sampson’s family has called for it to be permanently shut down. Sampson’s parents have also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the ride owner, manufacturer and landlord, alleging product liability and negligence. The owners of ICON Park and its affiliated companies filed a motion earlier this month to dismiss the lawsuit.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.