State notifies Land of Illusion of potential fine; amusement park plans to fight case

BUTLER COUNTY — The Ohio Department of Agriculture notified Land of Illusion Monday it plans to fine the business $500 for illegally operating an inflatable at the amusement park on Thomas Road in Middletown, a spokeswoman for the state said.

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The inflatable the state said didn’t have the properly licensing was being operated on the land of the Land of Illusion property. The Ohio Department of Agriculture received a photo of the inflatable in operation as a tip and opened their investigation, the spokeswoman said.

“Land of Illusion has fully complied with all Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) directives following recent inspections citing additional documentation needs for an inflatable slide and two brand new pieces of equipment. The inflatable slide in question – as well as the other new attractions – has not been operated or available to guests following the ODA inspection,” said Michael McKnight with Land of Illusion.

A state spokeswoman said Land of Illusion has 30 days to request a hearing on the fine. If a hearing is not requested, Land of Illusion will automatically be required to pay the fine.

“Land of Illusion will respond to ODA to refute the misinformation. We also are actively working with product manufacturers to secure the necessary paperwork for submission to ODA,” McKnight said.

During the hearing the state will be represented by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and Land of Illusion will provide its own legal council, the state said. An administrative hearing officer would hear both sides and render a decision.

Land of Illusion has previously been the subject of an investigation by the Butler County Sheriff’s Office after a Dayton teen died in a suspected drowning at the inflatable water park at the property last month.

The state said the $500 fine being pursued is not connected to the suspected drowning. The Ohio Department of Agriculture previously said the agency “does not inspect or license any inflatable devices on the lake at Land of Illusion, nor at any other entities in Ohio where inflatable devices are located on a lake.”

The reason for this is because these and similar devices are exempt from licensure under Ohio law, a spokeswoman said.

State Rep. Thomas Hall (R-Madison Twp.) said he hopes to change the Ohio Revised Code to change that.

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“We definitely want to get something done, is the consensus on all levels of government,” Hall told News Center 7′s Sean Cudahy.

Hall said as of now he believes neither the county health department nor the department of labor has full jurisdiction over the facility, in part because it’s not a pool. He wants someone in charge.

“We’re simply just trying to clarify that loophole we feel is in Ohio law currently,” Hall said. “We understand Land of Illusion is one of many parks in Ohio that are like this.”

Hall said he’s not trying to single out the amusement park, but wants “To try and make sure that this tragedy never occurs again for any family.”