Florida theme park criticized for new target shooting game


(ICON Park media photo)

ORLANDO, Fla. (WFLA) — An amusement park complex in Orlando, Florida, is facing 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 it would 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 to use laser blasters to hit targets placed around Orlando that can be seen from the ride.

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

According to the release posted on ICON Park’s website, each player will be given a blaster which has a scope and an infrared beam to “assist them when aiming at the 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 provide this amazing, new infrared technology, and effectively gamify and reinvigorate the experience to an entirely new audience of gamers.”

The Bullseye Blast announcement was not posted to 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 to Twitter, users were quick to take issue with the park’s new game, with some calling the game “insensitive” and referring to it as a “mass shooting simulator.”

“Everything about this is terrible. The concept, the execution, and the timing,” a person wrote. “Who approved this?!”

“This is definitely NOT it,” a different user said. Another tweet read, “This seems INCREDIBLY tone deaf.”

However, some users argued the backlash seemed “a bit over the top.”

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

Some users asked “how much more bad press” the park needs, referring to a teenage boy’s death at the complex earlier this year.

Tyre Sampson, a 14-year-old boy from Missouri, fell to his death from ICON Park’s 430-foot Orlando Free-Fall ride in March. An autopsy 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.

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