After two seemingly related incidents have now occured in two weeks on one of their star attractions, Universal has announced that changes have been made to Islands of Adventure's Dragon Challenge. The pair of inverted coasters, once known asDueling Dragons will now no longer duel according to WESH Orlando. This marks the first major change, besides changing the name and theme, to the coaster in all of its twelve years of operation.
The first incident occurred two weeks ago when the Puerto Rican vacationer Carlos Montalvo was struck in the eye by a flying object while riding the coaster. The incident resulted in him recently losing his eye after doctors were not able to save it according to Click Orlando. Unfortunately, nobody else on the train saw the object, and the park's investigation turned up no objects in the vicinity which could have been the culprit for the injury. After the investigation and inspection, which found the ride to be mechanically safe and sound, the ride re-opened.
The more recent accident happened last week when nineteen year old Jon Wilson was also struck by something in the leg, arm, and face while riding the coaster. In an interview with Click Orlando he said, "My sister was sitting next to me at the time, and when I said I was hit she thought it was a bug or something, but then she looked over and I had blood on my hands, so it was obviously something more."
Both incidents occurred at similar parts of the coaster. They both occurred at the "dueling points" of the ride according to WESH Orlando. These are points when two trains come very close to each other to provide the illusion that a collision is going to occur. The fact that both accidents happened when two trains were near each other suggests that the riders were struck with a loose article that came flying from another guest on a different train, or perhaps thrown by a guest on board.
In an effort to eliminate the possibility of being hit with an object that came from a guest on a different train, Universal has announced that the coasters will no longer duel. This means that instead of both sides of the coaster being dispatched simultaneously they will now be dispatched in an alternating fashion. This will result in the coasters no longer interacting at their dueling points. Click Orlando has also reported that more signs telling riders to secure their loose articles have been placed around the coaster.
In a written statement Universal spokesman Tom Schroder said, "As we continue to study these incidents, we will operate both coasters as separate experiences without their usual intersect points. The safety of our guests is our highest priority and we are taking this very seriously." In the statement, Schroder also noted that over 50 million guests have safely experienced Dragon Challenge since its opening.