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Why Some Water Parks Ban Women From High-Speed Slides
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Why Some Water Parks Ban Women From High-Speed Slides

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After Australian diving champion Rhiannan Iffland defied a ban on women riding an extreme waterslide at Austria’s Area 47, the conversation about waterslide safety really heated up online. 

The incident, which was recorded on a viral clip that amassed nearly 150k views on Instagram, revealed just how dangerous these attractions can be, not only to the public at large but to women specifically. 

Highlights
  • Rhiannan Iffland's viral video defying a ban highlighted waterslide safety concerns, especially for women.
  • Medical experts link female anatomy with increased injury risks from high-speed slides, not sexism.
  • Lacerations, bruises and organ damage are among the various injuries women are exposed to due to high water pressure.

In a move that some regard as “sexist,” numerous water parks have decided to implement bans in an effort to avoid accidents related to the female anatomy.

The combination of high speeds, water pressure, and the unique anatomy of women’s bodies increases the risk of injury

Image credits: rhiannan_iffland

Experts like Thomas J. Griffiths, the founder of the Aquatic Safety Research Group, point out that high-speed slides are inherently risky.

While there isn’t a specific speed threshold, most injuries and accidents happen at speeds over 50 km/h. 

This has led to growing calls for water parks to better inform riders about the risks, provide protective clothing, and ensure riders slide with their ankles and arms crossed.

More water parks have implemented bans to avoid accidents and also potential lawsuits

Image credits: wiegandwaterrides

Along with Area 47, places like X-Treme Fares in Germany have also banned women from their fastest waterslides. X-Treme Fares, where speeds can exceed 70 km/h, has prohibited women since 2012 due to the heightened risk of injuries. 

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These bans might appear extreme at first sight, but there’s a surprising reason for their implementation. It turns out that female anatomy is particularly vulnerable to the high pressure generated by the water, which is then exacerbated due to the unique shape of feminine swimwear.

Medical experts deny the measures are motivated by sexism and list several possible health complications for women on waterslides

Image credits: rhiannan_iffland

Gynecologist Dr. Mary Claire Haver explained that at high speeds, water can act like a surgical knife, cutting the vaginal walls, which are as thin as earlobes. 

Complications can include infections, perineal tears, water enemas, lacerations, and bruises. Wearing tight-fitting shorts or wetsuits and following safety rules, such as crossing one’s ankles, can help reduce risks, but they never eliminate them completely.

Waterslides around the world have a history of accidents and lawsuits, many of them involving women

Image credits: Splash One

For example, in 2019, Emma McGuinness’s vacation turned into a nightmare when she suffered severe vaginal lacerations on Disney’s Humunga Kowabunga, described as a 60-degree angle, 214-foot enclosed structure. 

The speed of the slide, which exceeded 60 km/h, caused her swimsuit to insert into her body, severely damaging her intestines.

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However, this wouldn’t be the only time Disney’s slide would be the subject of a lawsuit. This year, Laura Reyes-Merino is suing Walt Disney Parks for $50,000 after losing consciousness and suffering a brain injury on the attraction.

Image credits: google maps

According to the lawsuit, she blacked out due to “banging inside the slide,” and her fiancé and his mother found her limp at the end of the ride. They frantically asked attendants for help, but the attendants said they weren’t lifeguards and would need to find someone who could assist. Her fiancé had to pull her from the water while waiting for help. 

When a lifeguard finally arrived, they couldn’t touch her and called an ambulance instead. The lawsuit argues that if lifeguards had been stationed at the end of the ride, her brain injury might have been prevented.

Controversy, accidents, and legal challenges have haunted water parks for decades

Image credits: google maps

In the realm of waterslides and parks known for safety issues or tragic incidents, several notable examples stand out, each with its own history of controversy and legal challenges.

Verrückt in Kansas City, Kansas, once held the title of the world’s tallest waterslide, towering at nearly 169 feet. This attraction gained infamy after a tragic incident on August 7, 2016, when a 10-year-old child lost his life, leading to its subsequent closure.

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Image credits: The Atlantic

Formerly known as Action Park, Mountain Creek Water Park in Vernon, New Jersey, earned a reputation for its extreme rides and frequent accidents. Over the years, the park experienced six deaths from drownings, electrocutions, and accidents attributed to poorly designed attractions.

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Image credits: PARC Frankston

In 2017, Toni Steedman, aged 25, lost nearly 3 liters of blood after going down the Kamikaze slide at Aqualand in Tenerife. She suffered a 7 cm tear to her uterus. “The slide was really fast, and when I hit the water at the bottom, I felt something just burst inside me,” she told The Sun.

In 2019, a 38-year-old mother-of-two suffered an 8 cm internal tear after dropping down the VertiGO waterslide in Costa Blanca, Spain. “I was told to cross my arms and legs, and there were safety signs at the top of the slide,” she told The Sun. But the water pressure injured her regardless.

Not all parks have implemented bans, but awareness of potential risks remains the best safety measure

Image credits: Splash One

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As water parks and slide manufacturers struggle to balance thrill and safety, the bans on women highlight a critical need for improved safety measures and education.

Soon after the incident, Rhiannan Iffland acknowledged the dangers and urged others to follow the warning signs. While the bans might seem extreme or even sexist at first, they are motivated by the need to protect users from injuries caused by biological differences and parks from potential lawsuits that these accidents can trigger.

Women on social media have shared their own painful experiences with these attractions

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Abel Musa Miño

Abel Musa Miño

Writer, BoredPanda staff

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Journalist. Motorbike rider and dog lover.

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Abel Musa Miño

Abel Musa Miño

Writer, BoredPanda staff

Journalist. Motorbike rider and dog lover.

Donata Leskauskaite

Donata Leskauskaite

Author, BoredPanda staff

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Hey there! I'm a Visual Editor in News team. My responsibility is to ensure that you can read the story not just through text, but also through photos. I get to work with a variety of topics ranging from celebrity drama to mind-blowing Nasa cosmic news. And let me tell you, that's what makes this job an absolute blast! Outside of work, you can find me sweating it out in dance classes or unleashing my creativity by drawing and creating digital paintings of different characters that lives in my head. I also love spending time outdoors and play board games with my friends.

Read less »

Donata Leskauskaite

Donata Leskauskaite

Author, BoredPanda staff

Hey there! I'm a Visual Editor in News team. My responsibility is to ensure that you can read the story not just through text, but also through photos. I get to work with a variety of topics ranging from celebrity drama to mind-blowing Nasa cosmic news. And let me tell you, that's what makes this job an absolute blast! Outside of work, you can find me sweating it out in dance classes or unleashing my creativity by drawing and creating digital paintings of different characters that lives in my head. I also love spending time outdoors and play board games with my friends.

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lianbeijers avatar
LB
Community Member
1 week ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Why not ban the damn things altogether? There must be a speed that doesn't result in enemas, let's make that the limit.

stephyg1980 avatar
Ms.GB
Community Member
1 week ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I just can't imagine those watersides aren't doing any damage to a guy's testes as well!

omboyganesh avatar
ॐBoyGanesh
Community Member
1 week ago (edited) DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Men’s testes can move freely from their s*****m all the way back into their inguinal canal (think drag queen or trans-feminine tucking) As an external appendage, this is a good thing and what keeps them functioning. As any cis-male can tell ya, they take more than a few hits in their functional lifetime. When present with forces similar to water slides, they tend to work their way back towards the canal and stay out of harms way. It’s things like constant compression (tightly whiteys) or blunt force trauma that actually causes damage. While slides do impose a certain risk, it’s actually no more risky than having them dangling out in front of us on a daily basis. Which isn’t nearly the same sort of danger as pressurized water inserted internally. The net lining in board shorts do wonders to protect them on waterslides or other water sports/activities.

Load More Replies...
kcmilholland avatar
Justme
Community Member
1 week ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Is it so hard to require a wet suit to ride these? You can even have a rental station set up and make an extra buck.

Load More Comments
lianbeijers avatar
LB
Community Member
1 week ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Why not ban the damn things altogether? There must be a speed that doesn't result in enemas, let's make that the limit.

stephyg1980 avatar
Ms.GB
Community Member
1 week ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I just can't imagine those watersides aren't doing any damage to a guy's testes as well!

omboyganesh avatar
ॐBoyGanesh
Community Member
1 week ago (edited) DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Men’s testes can move freely from their s*****m all the way back into their inguinal canal (think drag queen or trans-feminine tucking) As an external appendage, this is a good thing and what keeps them functioning. As any cis-male can tell ya, they take more than a few hits in their functional lifetime. When present with forces similar to water slides, they tend to work their way back towards the canal and stay out of harms way. It’s things like constant compression (tightly whiteys) or blunt force trauma that actually causes damage. While slides do impose a certain risk, it’s actually no more risky than having them dangling out in front of us on a daily basis. Which isn’t nearly the same sort of danger as pressurized water inserted internally. The net lining in board shorts do wonders to protect them on waterslides or other water sports/activities.

Load More Replies...
kcmilholland avatar
Justme
Community Member
1 week ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Is it so hard to require a wet suit to ride these? You can even have a rental station set up and make an extra buck.

Load More Comments
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