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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 23-845



Bureau of Ride and Measurement Standards

[53 Pa.B. 3416]
[Saturday, July 1, 2023]


 This Order permits the owner or lessee of the Pipeline Blast Water Coaster, as modified with the VR Slide® system described herein, to operate such ride under a variance from certain registration requirements prescribed by the Amusement Ride Inspection Act (4 P.S. §§ 401—418) (''Act'') and its attendant regulations (7 Pa. Code Chapter 139).


 The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (''Department'') has lawful authority to issue a variance with respect to any rule, regulation or standard prescribed by the Act and its attendant regulations. This authority is expressly established at Sections 4(4) and 9 of the Act (4 P.S. §§ 404(4) and 409) and referenced in the regulation at 7 Pa. Code § 39.12 (relating to variances).

 A variance may be issued: 1) to prevent undue hardship; or 2) where existing conditions prevent practical compliance and the safety of the public can be reasonably assured.

 The Department regulates amusement rides and attractions under strict safety standards for the design, construction, maintenance, operation and inspection of such rides and attractions. ASTM International, the organization formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials, develops and publishes technical standards for a wide variety of industries with the goal of enhancing performance and safety. The Department adopts the standards developed by ASTM International's committee on amusement rides and devices (''ASTM F24 Committee Standards'') as its regulatory standards with respect to amusement rides and attractions that operate in this Commonwealth.

 Kalahari Resorts, LLC (''Owner'') is the owner and operator of the Pipeline Blast Water Coaster, an amusement ride that has been approved by and registered with the Department as PA Ride No. 16738. Ballast Technologies, Inc. (''Manufacturer'') is a technology company that has developed Virtual Reality experiences for use in conjunction with aquatic themed parks, including the VR Slide® system. The VR Slide® system allows a rider to observe a set visual experience through a Virtual Reality headset that is synchronized to a rider's position within a water slide or other aquatic ride. In this instance, the Owner has installed the VR Slide® system on the Pipeline Blast Water Coaster (''Modified Ride'') as an optional feature that a rider may choose to experience.

 7 Pa. Code § 139.4 establishes the requirements for registering a new or modified amusement ride or attraction with the Department. As a condition for registration, the applicant must ensure that the amusement ride complies with all applicable ASTM F24 Committee Standards for that ride. Currently, the ASTM F24 Committee has not issued any specific standards for water rides modified with Virtual Reality systems.

 The absence of such standards has prevented practical compliance with certain registration requirements of the Act and its attendant regulations. For example, the regulation at 7 Pa. Code § 139.4 (relating to registration) requires written verification under seal of a professional engineer that the ride conforms with, among other things, the ASTM F24 Committee Standards. As there are no ASTM F24 Committee Standards that specifically address this type of Virtual Reality modification, the Department recognizes this regulatory requirement has created an undue hardship for the Owner and registration of the Modified Ride has been difficult to vet through the Department's existing process.

 The Owner and Manufacturer of the Modified Ride have requested this variance in accordance with the Act. In support of this request, the Owner retained a licensed professional engineer to: (1) review the Manufacturer's proprietary data and materials pertinent to the design and structure of the VR Slide® system, and (2) perform independent, functional testing to verify the safety and performance of the Modified Ride. Upon extensive review of the professional engineer's report and inspection by the Department, it is the belief of this office that a limited variance is appropriate with respect to the approval and registration of the Modified Ride, and such variance will not adversely affect the health or safety of the public.

 In summary, this variance will allow the Owner to register the Modified Ride in the absence of ASTM F24 Committee Standards specific to water rides modified with a Virtual Reality system. Following the adoption of any Virtual Reality system standards by the ASTM F24 Committee, the Modified Ride must be re-registered with the Department in conformance with those standards.


 For purposes of this Order, the definitions set forth in the Act and its attendant regulations will apply. A variance is hereby issued under authority of the Act. The limited terms of this variance are as follows:

 1. Although the Modified Ride is an amusement ride for the purposes of the Act and its attendant regulations, the Owner shall be exempt from the requirement specified in 7 Pa. Code § 139.4(d)(7)(ii)(D) that the Modified Ride meets all requirements of the ASTM F24 Committee Standards as a condition of registration. The effect of this provision is to remove the requirement to submit written verification under seal of a licensed professional engineer confirming the Modified Ride's compliance with ASTM F24 Committee Standards. The professional engineer's written verification must confirm compliance with all other requirements specified in subsection (d)(7)(ii)(D).

 2. Upon the adoption of specific standards by the ASTM F24 Committee relating to the use of Virtual Reality systems with water rides, this variance will immediately cease and the Owner must re-register the Modified Ride in accordance with the registration requirements of the Act and its attendant regulations for new and modified rides. As part of re-registration, the Owner shall submit new written verification under seal of a licensed professional engineer confirming that the Modified Ride meets the requirements of the newly adopted ASTM F24 Committee Standards.

 3. The Stop-use Order issued by the Department on January 1, 2022 regarding operation of the Modified Ride is vacated with immediate effect.

 4. The Department will continuously monitor the efficacy of this variance and may revise or rescind this variance as it deems necessary.

 5. This Order shall be effective immediately.


[Pa.B. Doc. No. 23-845. Filed for public inspection June 30, 2023, 9:00 a.m.]

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