Orlando Park launches controversial shooter game

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Jul 16, 2022 1:42 pm After slamming social media, Orlando’s ICON Park has removed a paid interactive shooter game on The Wheel at ICON Park Ride. [See Orlando Attraction Invites Riders to Take Their Shot.]

The game outfitted drivers with infrared guns that they could use to aim at multiple bullseye targets placed on rooftops around the ICON parking complex. But the images of people pointing guns at real targets below them from the 400-foot observation wheel have unsettled many readers across the country who are still reeling from the recent spate of mass shootings.

ICON Park said it will work with its vendors to redesign the weapons to make them appear less realistic, hoping to bring back an interactive element to The Wheel at some point in the future.

“We believe that a device can and should be developed that does not offend anyone in the community. We look forward to leading this new innovation,” the park said in a statement released to the press today. “During the design process, we will pause the current version of the game. As all electronic games improve over time, we will pursue a new design that offers guests the same level of personalized fun that the wider community can embrace.”

Many interactive shooter attractions at theme parks across the country and around the world have chosen to use non-gun themed devices to allow guests to aim at targets, as they work to make their attractions feel more like fantasies rather than simulations of the shooting rampages feel like real life. Knott’s Berry Tales Return to the Fair uses “jelly blasters” shaped like jelly jars. Holiday World’s Gobbler Getaway uses “turkey callers” that look most like garage door remote controls. PortAventura’s Sesame Street: Street Adventure also uses clicker-like controls. And the latest trend in the industry is to ditch gun-like controllers altogether, allowing guests to hit targets with hand gestures, like at Legoland’s Ninjago The Ride and Disney’s new WEB Slingers, A Spider-Man Adventure, which opens this month at Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris after she made her Disney California Adventure debut last summer.

At the end of the day, attractions like ICON Park are all about selling tickets and making money. And when an element of an attraction’s design puts off or turns away more people than it attracts, it’s only wise to drop that element—especially when there are plenty of equally functional alternatives.

If ICON Park had designed Bullseye Blast with, say, a sci-fi theme – placing alien starship targets on rooftops and outfitting drivers with awesome-looking “laser” blasters, I doubt nearly as many people would have complained. And the $5 premium game might have attracted a lot more customers since it would offer a more imaginative experience. Or maybe the park could have leaned into the imagination and outfitted riders with wands aimed at magically themed targets below.

Whether anyone – or you or your neighbor – thinks ICON Park should have continued to offer a gun-themed shooter game is irrelevant. As a company, ICON Park has to follow – or rather lead – the market. While the park said the paid game satisfied its current customers, ICON Park needs to expand its market by appealing to tourists and locals who have not considered this collection of International Drive attractions in the past. So the right thing to do was to put aside all moral arguments – from whatever perspective – drop Bullseye Blast and look for an alternative.

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