Knott's Berry Farm WindSeeker strands riders at top of ride for hours.

Posted Thursday, September 20, 2012 10:04 AM | Contributed by VitaminsAndGravy

The Knott's Berry Farm WindSeeker stopped working around 4 p.m. when the ride's "safety security system activated," causing it to come to a halt, park officials said. Twenty riders were stranded about 300 feet in the air near the top of the ride, according to Jennifer Blazey, spokeswoman for the park. By 7:30 p.m., the ride had been manually lowered about half way to the ground. At 7:40 p.m., the group -- which appeared to range in age from teenage to adult -- walked off the swings.

Read more from NBC News.

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Saturday, September 22, 2012 2:10 PM

Yeah, this clearly doesn't have to be the end of Windseekers, unless CF's already grown tired of dealing with the trouble. These rides are just really tall circle swings, which have been around since before the invention of football. Mondial will find and fix the issue(s) fast enough. It's not like they're Inta...but I digress.


My author website: mgrantroberts.com

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Saturday, September 22, 2012 8:51 PM

The bottom line is, the safest way to get riders off of Windseeker is to bring the carriage down. There are other ways to do high rescue, but no matter how it is done, it is an inherently dangerous process, certainly more dangerous than letting people sit for a while.

The issue, then, is how do you bring the carriage down? My thought is that there are very few things that could go wrong that could not be cleared rather quickly to get the ride moving again...but at what cost? The LA Times article I read earlier today says a brake locked up on the counterweight. Fine. Grab a wrench, a sledge hammer, and a come-along, break the failed part, hand-crank the gondola down with the come-along, and run the risk of losing control and dropping the loaded gondola and injuring up to 64 people. If successful, you can get everybody off in fairly short order, and you just have a badly broken ride to fix. If unsuccessful, you can get everybody off in a matter of seconds, assuming you can separate them from the twisted wreckage of the now-destroyed ride.
Or, given the fact that the riders are in no imminent danger, you can take the time to attempt to repair whatever part failed, and you can then use the ride's normal mechanisms to lower the gondola in a normal, controlled fashion. The process takes longer, but you can virtually guarantee the safety of all passengers, workers, and even of the equipment.
So what do you choose? It's a nice day. You can get everybody down in a hurry, at great risk of injury and/or equipment damage, or you can make them wait.

If it were me, I think I'd do it the safer way.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Last edited by RideMan, Saturday, September 22, 2012 8:52 PM

    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
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Saturday, September 22, 2012 10:33 PM

If those are the only two options for dealing with a ride malfunction, then the design is seriously flawed and unfriendly to people. If those are the only two options that can ever be employed for such a type of ride, then I believe it behooves the park to post a warning that reads, "In the event of a malfunction, this attraction will be brought slowly back to the ground, a process that may take several hours."


My author website: mgrantroberts.com

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Sunday, September 23, 2012 12:02 AM

It's not that those are the only options. But the point is that depending on the nature of the malfunction, it may be that the simplest, safest solution is to make people wait.

That said, there are two other factors that may be at play here, which are factors the park should probably carefully review and examine.

One is that the park's priorities when the ride breaks down may not align with the priorities of the people on the ride. The park knows that the trapped riders are not in any danger. The riders, most likely, do not.

The other is that parks in general are notoriously non-communicative when things go wrong. When the ride failed, did they keep the riders informed as to what was going on...did they make sure that the important questions got answered quickly and regularly--

a) What happened? ("the ride stopped working.")
b) Have you forgotten about us? ("No")
c) Are we in any danger? ("No")
d) Is anybody actually trying to fix this thing? ("Yes")
e) How long is this going to take? ("A little longer.")

What is amazing is that just a little bit of transparency can go a very long way.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.


    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____
/XXXXX\ /XXX\ /XXXX\_ /X\ /XXXXX\ /X\ /X\ /XXXXX
_/XXXXXXX\__/XXXXX\/XXXXXXXX\_/XXX\_/XXXXXXX\__/XXX\_/XXX\_/\_/XXXXXX

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Sunday, September 23, 2012 10:20 AM

Does that mean that the starflyer is the more reliable option?

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Sunday, September 23, 2012 11:01 AM

One thing that I've always wondered about rides that are difficult to evacuate, such as Windseekers, chairlifts, and so on: what happens if riders get stranded and it's not safe for them to wait, such as having a storm blow in? Do parks have a contingency plan for these times of scenarios, or are the operators secretly praying they never run into such an occasion?

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Sunday, September 23, 2012 6:32 PM

PhantomTails said:

One thing that I've always wondered about rides that are difficult to evacuate, such as Windseekers, chairlifts, and so on: what happens if riders get stranded and it's not safe for them to wait, such as having a storm blow in? Do parks have a contingency plan for these times of scenarios, or are the operators secretly praying they never run into such an occasion?

Or what would they do if someone got really scared being up there and started to have a heart attack?How could they get to them quickly?


Racing whippet 76-77
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Sunday, September 23, 2012 6:52 PM
sirloindude's avatar

Well, if you have heart problems, you shouldn't be riding, but I know that there's always the unexpected.


13 Boomerang, 9 SLC, and 8 B-TR clones

www.grapeadventuresphotography.com

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Sunday, September 23, 2012 8:52 PM
Fun's avatar

At some point, it stops making sense to plan for every possible scenario.
What if Anaconda valleys over water? What if the power goes out on Millennium Force and the lift cart gets jammed for some reason? What if a tree falls over the tracks of the Beast? The "what ifs" are endless, but you make a system that is designed to work for most situations.

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Monday, September 24, 2012 4:11 AM

Fun said:

What if a tree falls over the tracks of the Beast?

I've always been more concerned about the possibility of deer on the ground level or tunneled sections of track. Probably even crazier than worrying about downed trees though.

As for the Windseekers, it's too bad they don't have the "adventurous" evacuation option that was used for Space Spiral (thanks to Pointbuzz for the link).


And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012 9:07 AM

I've noticed that whenever a coaster goes down while a train is on the lift or mid-course brake they immediately send ride personnel up the stairs to the train. I'm sure this is not only to assure and "inform" the riders, but most importantly, to make sure riders don't try to get out. (which they will.) The park knows the safest place for the riders, for now, is in their seats.
Which leads me to wonder about Windseeker and whether they continued to play that lovely/adventurous/soaring/inspiring music for three hours as entertainment? Or at conception did they think ahead (to what they would surely need someday) and install a system that allows them to replace the music with communication to riders too far away to reach? " Attention riders! We interrupt the lovely music to advise you to remain in your seats, and please, do NOT try to get out. And now, back to the lovely music"
It would sure beat standing on the ground with a bull horn for the entire park to hear.
Or maybe I've got it backwards and it went this way-
Cedar Fair Imagineer: "ok, we got the emergency stranded-three-hundred-feet-in-the-air speakers installed, now what do we do? Too bad we can't think of another good use for th... heeeey,.... wait a minute..."

Last edited by RCMAC, Tuesday, September 25, 2012 9:13 AM
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Tuesday, September 25, 2012 9:32 AM

I'm gonna guess that your final comment is exactly how it happened, that the sound system was put there for communication purposes, and the music is a bonus. Incidentally, more than once while I have ridden, the crew has used the PA system to tell people to put their phones away, so yes, it is possible to talk to riders with it.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.


    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____
/XXXXX\ /XXX\ /XXXX\_ /X\ /XXXXX\ /X\ /X\ /XXXXX
_/XXXXXXX\__/XXXXX\/XXXXXXXX\_/XXX\_/XXXXXXX\__/XXX\_/XXX\_/\_/XXXXXX

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012 11:03 AM

I knew you would know. :-)

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