Being stuck on a ride

TiggerMan's avatar

Ok, this question is probably best answered by our ride ops crowd...

Exactly when or at what point is the decision made to evacuate (that is, remove riders manually) from a ride? Is there a protocol the ops must follow? Do the ride mechanics make the call?

About a month ago a friend and I took a ride on S:UF at SFGAdv. When the ride was over, something happened in the station, and they couldn't dispatch the next train, leaving us hanging there in the brake run.

I've been on this coaster many times, and I've never really had any big issues with it, but something just clicked funny in my brain and I started to have a panic attack that I couldn't move and was stuck there. I called for an op and he did the usual "it's ok sir... mechanics are on their way" speech, but honestly, that didn't really help me. I did my best to just relax and put on my best Zen face, but it was NOT easy, especially since I'd never really had a panic attack before, and wasn't sure how to deal with it.

Anyways to my fortune, the mechanics did show up quickly and we were only stuck a few minutes, but after the ride I got to thinking, how long would they have left us in those restraints before they made the decision to release us? 10 minutes? 20 minutes? The most hysterical passengers first?

As much as I love coasters, there are a few that I really dread when it comes to the restraints. The B&M Flyers are one of them. It's pretty snug in there. Also, the retro-fitted Premier launched coasters don't exactly put me in a happy place either - the round foot restraints sometimes crush your foot against the wheel well of the car. I don't like the idea of being stuck in either of those types of coasters for an extended length of time.

So is there any consistent standard? Park by park? Ride by ride? Who makes the call the release passengers manually?

Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line.

Jeff's avatar

When the chain broke on Superman at SFA with us loaded on there, I think they decided right then we wouldn't be finishing the circuit normally. Am I helpful or what?

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I suspect that there are some instances when someone other than the ride operators or even "area supervisors" can make that call. Evacuating a ride doesn't come without risks...particularly if it is a rollercoaster.

I suspect someone like an Operations Manager in conjunction with a Risk Manager or someone from the Safety division would be the "team" that would make the decision to evacuate a ride. In other words...the risk for keeping the folks ON the ride is greater than the risk of removing them and escorting them out of the attraction or down a tall staircase.

I doubt there is a national standard. There might be company standards for the big boys.

PRWagner's avatar

At Dorney Park last week the Steel Force train stopped just going up the lift hill. Only like 2-3 carts has began the incline when a buzzer of some kind went off. Some attendants went out did something inside one of the carts and then it went on its way. I thought I heard one of them mention a seat belt being unbuckled, but I am not sure if that was the case or not.

My Top 5: 5- Alpengeist 4-Superman: Ride of Steel 3-El Toro 2-Milleunnium Force 1-Nitro

coasterqueenTRN's avatar

I have been temporarily stuck on lift hills on a few coasters, but none of them were more fun than being stuck near the top of MForce's hill for about 25 minutes. :)

We were in the front row. I was having a blast with the scenery and pointing out just how high we were while everyone else was freaking. I don't know what was wrong but they finally got us going. I believe they closed it down right after that.

Remember that one, Gator? :)


Last edited by coasterqueenTRN,
Carrie M.'s avatar

...being stuck near the top of MForce's hill for about 25 minutes = would not be fun for Carrie! Yikes!!


"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

coasterqueenTRN's avatar

It wouldn't be fun for normal people. ;)

It would be fun for crazy people like me that have no fear of heights. ;) Actually, I was getting impatient after a while. The wind was nice but it eventually it got to be too much, especially since we were not moving!:)


Last Wednesday, Ava and I got stuck on the brake run for Flight Deck. We were (literally) hanging around for about 25 minutes. She became bored quickly, but not worried since she's already had a good bit of Roller Coaster Schooling by now.

A ride op came out at intervals to check on us and give the Reassuring Spiel. He asked if we needed anything and I suggested some entertainment. After thinking about it for a few seconds, he allowed that he didn't know any jokes he could share with the public...

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Carrie M.'s avatar

Haha, Tina. Thanks for calling me normal! :)

It wouldn't be the height that would get me, though. It would be that horrible incline! Once I'm up there I'm fine. Facing down? No problem! But I hate being on my back facing the sky....

...Still think I'm normal? ;)

"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

rollergator's avatar

^I didn't find it that fun either, Carrie. But I still have the exit pass they gave us after we completed the circuit....and we got the longest MF ride ever, LOL! ;)

You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

99er's avatar

For the most part (at least with the parks I have worked with), the decision comes from both a Rides Manager and a Maintenance Foremen of some sort. Ultimately Ride Maintenance are the ones who will know for sure how long a train might be stuck so they will discuss with Operations as to evac or not. If Maintenance can assure it will only be 10 or 15 minutes, then no need to do a walk down. Of course any train in or close to the platform can be unloaded with no problem.

At my park its usually myself and my manager that will wait till the last minute possible before doing a walk down from a lift. Obviously we want to avoid that at all costs but if Maintenance tells us that they are not going to be able to get the lift moving again, we have to do it.


Tigger in your specific situation it sounds like it was probably a fault light that went off. It's more or less the equivilent of your computer getting an error message and needing a reboot. Maintenence would come out, check out what the error is, reset it, and you're on your way.

Evacuation is a last resort since, as it's been mentioned, there's added risks so you're much better off and safer by staying put. It's also a long process that requires that the ride be powered down and locked out, with extra personel to escort riders back to the platform and also to document who was on the train evactuated. The maintenence supervisor generally figure out how long they'll need and then evac is determined from that.

The employee sent to hang out with a stopped train can't make the call to evac no matter how much you scream at him or her. The mom screaming "get my baby off of this or I'll sue you!" doesn't work either. Not saying anyone here would do this, but just sharing some regular stuff I'd heard over the years. :)

Raven-Phile's avatar

I once was stuck on Superman: Ultimate Flight at SFGrAm, in the brake run (Flying position). We were there for a good 45 minutes, could have even been an hour. They kept asking if everyone was OK, and I eventually asked "what can you do if someone says no?" - the answer is "not much at this point".

99er's avatar

I don't see why a park would let guests sit in a break-run, waiting area, etc for any amount of time. Unless you are 40+ feet up in a block-break or on a lift, there should be no reason why they could not have released you after 10 or 15 minutes of sitting there.

Now I understand on some coasters its harder (mostly B&M) like flyers, floorless and inverts, but there is no reason why someone should be stuck for 45 minutes while they are just yards from the platform.


I did ride Magnum one day and the ride ops let us off in the final brake black before the station so nthey could close the ride due to severe weather.

Coaster Junkie from NH
I drive in & out of Boston, so I ride coasters to relax!

^^ I'm not sure about the flyers but have done evac on a B&M invert and it's a super slow process. You need two staff members just to move and secure the manual unload platform, plus more to help riders down to platform and escort down the lift. It can take around 10 minutes for a fully loaded row depending on how cooperative riders are.

99er's avatar

^But are you talking about an evac on the lift though? Because that would take awhile and I was referring to unloading in a break-run. Doing it in a break-run should not take long regardless of if you have coperative guests or not. I have seen an unload done in an area like this and it was done very quickly. About 15 minutes total to do the mostly loaded train But they also had plenty of staff on hand to help.


I was stuck on the brake run of Scream Machine for around 30 minutes last summer before they decided to evacuate us. It was really uncomfortable since I was in the last row of a car so there isn't a lot of leg room. Even worse, we didn't get an exit pass or anything that I found out later the park usually gives out when you have to be evacuated.

I was also evacuated on Rolling Thunder 2 weeks ago but that was in the station so I don't know if it counts or not. They lost power or something happened because they had to manually release the buzz bars with some kind of tool. Thankfully that only took 1 or 2 minutes. I don't know how long the other train on the brake run or lift hill (not sure where the other train was) had to sit there.

I was stuck on Maverick's brake run for about 30 minutes. The op came by and spoke to us, then the mechanics showed up and spoke not a word. From there it would have been an easy evac, but nobody moved until the ride was back up and running.

I've only been truly stuck on one ride, at Hershey, on their Condor. (non coaster, but stuck way up there just the same) We were almost to the top when there was a loud bang and the ride ground down to a halt. We sat there for a long time, and because we were so far away from the platform, announcements were useless. I turned to my partner who was in the bird behind me, gave the thumbs up and mouthed the words "exit pass! Great Bear!" He looked very nervous, as he's not much liking the thrill rides anyway, then I started looking around to see what escape route we might have if the situation got worse, and I got nervous. After about a half hour they started the slow process of lowering the ride manually. When we finally got off the ride an op was at the exit passing out slips. We hit the street, looked at our slips and WOW! it was a free small Coke! Thank God we'd worked up a big thirst up there all that time- I think we drank em in the long line for Great Bear!

Another time CP's Sky Ride stopped while we were up there. It's more than a little scary- the cable slackens, or something, and there's a momentary dangling freefall kind of feeling! Whoa, yikes! I was with a friend who had to be talked into the thing anyway, so it wasn't good. I tried to make cheerful small talk, Oh look how good you can see Raptor from here!, but he just sat motionless, hands gripped to the pole, staring at the floor the whole time. Once again, there wasn't much of an evac option, short of a truck with a really high bucket! Finally, with another huge dip and a lurch, the ride resumed and we were carried safely to the station. I couldn't think of a time in all my years at the Point that that had ever happened.

TiggerMan's avatar

Raven-Phile said:
I once was stuck on Superman: Ultimate Flight at SFGrAm, in the brake run (Flying position). We were there for a good 45 minutes, could have even been an hour. They kept asking if everyone was OK, and I eventually asked "what can you do if someone says no?" - the answer is "not much at this point".

45 minutes in the brake run?? That's ridiculous. I probably would have had a major meltdown that day. God help anyone if they needed to use the bathroom!

I agree with 99er here:

NowI understand on some coasters its harder (mostly B&M) like flyers,floorless and inverts, but there is no reason why someone should bestuck for 45 minutes while they are just yards from the platform.

Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line.

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