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A new shooting game at Florida theme park stirs questions

Some don’t think the new attraction at ICON Park that riders to shoot at targets is appropriate given recent mass shootings.
Icon Park in Orlando is shown in this photo. A recent feature allowing riders at the park to shoot at targets is stirring questions.
Icon Park in Orlando is shown in this photo. A recent feature allowing riders at the park to shoot at targets is stirring questions. [ Icon Park ]
Published Jul. 16

ORLANDO — A new addition to the Wheel at ICON Park allowing riders to shoot at targets from above has some questioning its sensibility amid a spate of mass shootings throughout the country.

By adding an extra $5.95 to tickets, riders are given laser blasters and instructions to aim and shoot at 50 different targets throughout the park during the 18-minute up-and-down circle ride, which towers over Orlando’s heavily visited tourism corridor.

To some, Bullseye Blast is no different than Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin ride at Disney’s Magic Kingdom or MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack at Universal Studios, as one tweet said. To others, its introduction to the park comes at a time when the threat of gun violence feels more prevalent given the heightened number of mass shootings going on in the country.

Less than two weeks ago a gunman opened fire at a Fourth of July parade in a Chicago suburb, just one of several deadly shootings in the country so far this year along with the massacre of 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24. Ten days prior, 10 people were shot and killed in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.

State Sen. Linda Stewart, an Orlando Democrat, said in a retweet: “This is in poor taste!”

A tweet by the amusement park and Disney-fan blog LaughingPlace.com has over 200 quote tweets about the news. One of which said: “How did this make it off the drawing board?! Big difference between shooting aliens/robots to practicing our sniper skills in a real-life urban area.”

Representatives for ICON Park were not immediately available to comment.

Dennis Speigel, founder and CEO of International Theme Park Services Inc., said he was surprised ICON Park executives and Bullseye Blast creators Creative Amusements LLC and Steradian Technologies didn’t think to pause. While admitting he did not know much about the product, he said he imagines the deal took between six months to a year to create.

The attention the game is receiving, he adds, can backfire by further damaging the reputation ICON park’s execs have been trying to salvage following the death of 14-year-old Tyre Sampson, who died from falling off the Free Fall tower at ICON Park in March. Tyre was nearly 100 pounds over the weight limit for the wide, and his family filed a lawsuit.

“I think ICON Park, what it’s gone through recently with the death of the young man, I would think they would be wanting to demonstrate their concern for safety and their concern for vigilance as it relates to safety in any possible way they could,” he said.

“I would wonder, based on the revenue stream income from this ride, is it worth the gamble? Is it worth the negativity and the negative publicity this is generating? ... Not all press is good press.”

A press release issued Thursday announcing the addition of Bullseye Blast at ICON Park said: “The Wheel at ICON Park is the only observation wheel in the world to provide this amazing, new infrared technology, and effectively gamify and reinvigorate the experience to an entirely new audience of gamers.”

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The blasters feature a scope and infrared beams that help players aim at targets.

“Seeing these simulated guns pointed down at you from these heights, from all these cars, just doesn’t seem like the right decision,” Speigel said. “It’s a little bizarre.”

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©2022 Orlando Sentinel. Visit at orlandosentinel.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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