Florida amusement park’s new target shooter draws criticism

ORLANDO, Fla. (WFLA) – An amusement park resort in Orlando, Fla., is coming under heavy criticism on social media after announcing a new target-blasting game that can be played on one of its rides.

ICON Park announced Thursday that it will be adding a game called Bullseye Blast to the Wheel ride, the park’s 400-foot-tall Ferris wheel. The game is described as a competition for riders who use laser blasters to hit targets placed around Orlando that can be seen from the ride.

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“As their air-conditioned capsule soars over Orlando, players scan the rooftops of ICON Park to find 50 strategically pre-selected targets of varying degrees of difficulty,” park officials said in a press release. “To get the highest possible score, players need to hit as many as they can with their laser blaster during the 18-minute ride.”

According to the statement posted on the ICON Park website, each player will receive a blaster that has a scope and an infrared beam to “help them aim at targets.”

The Bullseye Blast game costs $5.95 to play, in addition to the price of a ticket to ride the wheel. In its announcement, ICON Park said the ride is “the only observation wheel in the world to deliver this amazing new infrared technology, and effectively gamify and invigorate the experience to a whole new audience of gamers.”

The Bullseye Blast announcement was not posted on ICON Park’s official social media pages, but was picked up by Laughing Place, a blog dedicated to theme park news. When the article was posted on Twitter, users were quick to take issue with the park’s new game, with some calling the new game “insensitive” and referring to it as a “mass shooting simulator”.

“Everything about it is terrible. The concept, the execution and the timing,” someone wrote. “Who approved that?!”

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“It’s definitely NOT that” a user said. Another one tweeted“That sounds INCREDIBLY tone deaf.”

Some users, however, argued that the backlash seemed “a bit overdone”.

“I struggle to see how insensitive a laser shooter is. Should we ban laser tag, airsoft and paintball because those look like guns too?” a user wrote.

Some users have asked “how much bad press” the park needs, referring to the death of a teenager at the resort earlier this year.

Tire Sampson, a 14-year-old boy from Missouri, died during the 430-foot “Orlando Free-Fall” race from ICON Park in March. An autopsy later revealed that he had fallen more than 70 feet, causing him internal injuries and wounds to his head, neck and torso.

The freefall ride has been closed since the death and Sampson’s family has requested that it be permanently closed. Sampson’s parents also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the owner, manufacturer and owner of the ride, alleging product liability and negligence. The owners of ICON Park and its affiliates filed a motion earlier this month to dismiss the lawsuit.

Harold B. McConnell