Florida roller coaster strands riders for hours
Standing still — for hours, high above the Earth? Not so much.
But that’s the experience riders on the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit got Wednesday night, when the Universal Orlando attraction stalled due to what park spokesman Tom Schroder called a technical glitch.
The coaster did what it was supposed to do, when that happened around 7 p.m: It came to a stop about 140 feet above the ground, Schroder said. What the ride — which towers, at its highest point, 17 stories above the theme park — didn’t do was promptly start again.
While the cars toward the front were at least closer to level, with a view over the hill, those farther behind were “sitting straight back with no way to move, because it’s straight down,” one park visitor, Ray Downs, told CNN affiliate WESH.
Most riders were able to be safely taken off but, more than two hours later, about 10 still remained. The Orlando Fire Department was called in to pluck off these stranded few about 2½ hours after the ordeal began.
One female rider was transported to the hospital complaining of neck and back pain, according to Schroder.
Asked whether this had happened before, Schroder said, “Yes, we’ve had similar incidents.”
On its website, Universal Orlando bills the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit as the tallest roller coaster in the theme park-filled central Florida city. Peaking at 65 mph, the coaster features what the park calls a “record-breaking loop” about other twists and turns.
“We are going to work to understand what happened tonight before we reopen the ride again,” Schroder said.
Downs, for one, is open to hopping on the coaster again, feeling that mechanical issues will happen no matter how well maintained a ride is. But his daughter — who was “scared half to death” before they rode the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit just before it got stuck — might not feel the same.
“I said, ‘It will be OK, they took good care of their stuff,'” Downs said. “Thank goodness it wasn’t us.”
By Joe Sutton. Dave Alsup and Greg Botelho
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