Chinese theme park attraction shut down after thrill seeker’s lucky escape

Video shows moment the man realises how close he came to plummeting from high-altitude bridge after safety cord snaps

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 October, 2018, 7:04pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 October, 2018, 9:34pm

Authorities have closed down a high-altitude theme park attraction in southwest China due to safety concerns, after a hair-raising video of a tourist’s lucky escape when his harness snapped went viral on social media.

An investigation by local government officials found staff at the Wansheng Ordovician Theme Park near Chongqing had not fastened the safety cord properly on Monday when a tourist, who was not identified, did the “extreme leap”, Upstream News reported on Wednesday.

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Footage of the incident shows the man leaping across a giant walkway suspended in mid-air with gaping holes between each plank. As he makes the final jump, the rope securing him to an overhead frame breaks from his safety harness, just as he reaches the opposite podium.

The man appears calm throughout, turning around and smiling after reaching the other side. About a second later he realises what has happened and is seen holding up the severed cable.

There is no safety net beneath the bridge, which is suspended over a sheer drop of 152 metres (500 feet) onto the rocks below.

But a staff member with the propaganda bureau at the Wansheng Economic Development Zone told The Beijing News the video was a publicity stunt aimed at raising the profile of the theme park.

That claim was met with outrage on social media.

“If it’s a marketing ploy, I hope it closes down soon,” one commenter wrote on Weibo.

Others were not convinced that the video was staged.

“It’s not marketing – it’s true. The [authorities at this] scenic area just want to hide the facts. The video is so clear – the safety cord really broke off. You must not go, you’d be risking your life,” another person wrote on Sina Weibo.

Soon after the negative comments started piling up, the censors made some of them unreadable on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter.

The theme park, which is located in a scenic area 100km outside Chongqing, is popular with adrenaline junkies for its extreme thrills. It contains the world’s longest glass footbridge, suspended 120 metres above the ground, as well as a death-defying rope swing on the edge of a 300-metre-high cliff.

It is named after the prehistoric Ordovician period when the spectacular karst stones of the Wansheng ecological area were formed, 465 million to 600 million years ago.

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Local authorities said they were continuing the investigation at the theme park. If convicted under public safety laws, the park could face fines of at least 10,000 yuan (US$1,500).

China’s theme parks have been plagued by a number of safety scandals in recent years but until now there had been no reported incidents at the Wansheng Ordovician Theme Park, which gets several thousand visitors per day during peak season.

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In April, a 23-year-old man died after being thrown out of a ride at a theme park in central Henan province. An investigation found the ride had malfunctioned, causing his seat belt to come undone.

In February last year, a teenage girl was also killed when her seat belt broke and she was flung out of a fast-revolving ride in a different Chongqing theme park.