An amusement device is a device or structure open to the public by which persons are conveyed or moved in an unusual manner for diversion, but excluding snow tubing parks and rides, ski terrain parks, ski slopes and ski trails, and passenger tramways. The phrase “open to the public” means that the public has full access to a device or structure at an event, irrespective of whether a fee is charged. The use of devices or structures at private events is not considered to be open to the public. Inflatable amusement devices and zip lines, when open to the public, are considered amusement devices.
The Virginia Amusement Device Regulations (VADR) is the standard for the regulation, design, construction, maintenance, operation, and inspection of amusement devices within the Commonwealth of Virginia whether mobile or affixed to a site. Enforcement of the VADR is the responsibility of the local building inspections department in each locality throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia unless the permit applicant chooses to use a third-party inspector. The Virginia Department of General Services functions as the local building department for amusement devices located on state-owned property.
There are many devices that are exempt from VADR such as non-mechanized playground or recreational equipment such as swing sets, sliding boards, climbing bars, jungle gyms, skateboard ramps and similar equipment. Also exempt from the VADR are coin-operated rides designed to accommodate three or less passengers, water slides or similar equipment in community or organization swimming pools, mechanical bulls, and shopping mall trains.
Operators for amusement devices must notify the building official that they are setting up an amusement device in their locality and relay whether the device has previously been inspected within the required time. The operator must also apply for the required permits for their amusement devices, carry liability insurance and provide proof of insurance to the locality in which they are setting up their amusement devices. Fees for amusement device permits are specific and are established in the VADR. Inspection requirements for amusement devices are also established in the VADR.
Once an amusement device has been inspected and approved for operation, an inspection certificate (seal) is placed on the device. Amusement Device Seals are provided only to the Building Official and not to private third parties that may be utilized by the jurisdiction. Next time you are at an amusement park, fair, or other location in Virginia where a regulated device is set up, you can look for this sticker to verify that the device has been inspected and approved.
The Amusement Device Technical Advisory Committee (ADTAC) is a committee appointed by the Board of Housing and Community Development (Board), which assists the Board in the administration of the Virginia Amusement Device Regulations. The ADTAC consists of five members; two members represent the code enforcement community, two members represent the amusement park or private sector operators of amusement devices, and one member represents third-party amusement device inspectors.
The ADTAC recommends standards for the construction, maintenance, operation and inspection of amusement devices, including the qualifications of amusement device operators and the certification of inspectors, and otherwise performs advisory functions as the Board may require.
Additional information related to the amusement device program, including the VADR and ADTAC can be found here.
If you have questions about amusement devices in Virginia, please contact the State Building Codes Office at (804) 371-7150 or firstname.lastname@example.org.