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What's fair compensation for theme park guests who are evacuated from rides?

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Published: April 3, 2013 at 12:59 PM

Last week, many newspapers and TV stations reported a story about a disabled man who won $8,000 from Disney in a court case after he'd been stuck on It's a Small World for three hours. (We had it in the Blog Flume Filter last week.) But the story was wrong: The man was kept on the ride for just 30 minutes. And the ride's music was turned off just a few minutes into the ordeal. The judgment payment seemed to have been based more on Disney's apparent inability to evacuate a guest with disabilities in a timely manner, in comparison with other guest evacuations, than any "pain and suffering" in having to listen to the Small World theme song for an extended period -- which is the mental image that helped the original, incorrect version go viral in the first place.

But the whole episode raises the question: What is appropriate compensation for a theme park visitor who has to be evacuated from a ride?

Gremlin
What's fair compensation when the theme park gremlins come looking for you?

Let's start with a basic assumption: This isn't the lottery. Theme parks shouldn't be obligated to hand over fat payments to visitors who get stuck on rides. You paid for a day in the park. If something goes wrong, and you're kept from enjoying part of your day in the park because you're stuck on a ride that's not operating properly, the park should do something to compensate you for that lost time. That's all.

So what should that compensation be?

Whenever you are evacuated from a ride, I think that you should get a pass to return to the front of the line for a re-ride later in the day, or be offered an immediate re-ride if the attraction returns to normal operation while you're still there. You've already waited for your ride and didn't get it, so there's no good reason why should be forced to wait again to experience the attraction.

When I worked at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom and had to evacuate people from Pirates of the Caribbean and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, I also offered those visitors a bit of a "backstage" tour as we walked out of the ride. I'd ask if anyone wanted to hear more about the ride as we walked through the backstage areas, and while most did, a few guests would want to get out of there as quickly as possible so I'd honor that and just keep moving quietly. But I thought it simple courtesy to make myself available to answer questions.

If an evacuation delay of an hour or more caused you to miss a meal or show reservation, it's also reasonable for you to ask that the park's guest relations staff help you to make alternate arrangements. (If an evac took more like 15 minutes, and you still missed your ressie, well, you shouldn't have cut it that close. Don't complain.) If you're stuck for close to a couple hours, or more, it might be reasonable to ask for a free one-day ticket to the park, to replace the day that you didn't get to fully enjoy because of the mishap.

All this assumes that you weren't hurt or had any of your property damaged while on the ride. If either of those did happen, though, you should be entitled to immediate help, such as first aid provided at the park's expense, or the repair, replacement or payment for damaged clothes or other property. (The only case of damaged property I ever saw was from hydraulic fluid from a leaking animatronic.) If your injury is the fault of the park, you should be entitled to full medical care for your injuries, at the park's expense. And if what happened was your fault, well, you shouldn't be asking the park to pay a dime.

Remember that not everyone gets off a ride at the same time during an evacuation. Most rides have designated evacuation points and, based upon the ride's design, you might not be taken off your vehicle at the evacuation point nearest you when the ride stops. Someone has to be the last person off a ride, so don't get extra upset if that person happens to be you. Just ask nicely for the compensation you believe you deserve, given the time you were stuck on the ride.

That said, parks aren't allowed under federal law to say that all able-bodied persons get off the ride first, and then we'll worry about the persons with disabilities later. If a ride's evacuation plan doesn't accommodate persons with disabilities in a reasonable manner (or otherwise discriminates against any other certain class of people), that's a fair case for complaint -- to the park itself, or to appropriate state or federal agencies. If you're wondering how to file a complain with a government agency, or even which agency to complain to, look up a phone number or email address for your local elected state Legislature or U.S. House representative and ask for "constituent services." That'll get you put in touch with someone in the rep's office who can help steer you in the appropriate direction.

If you felt unsafe during the evacuation or your wait for assistance, or if you were stuck on the ride for many hours, then it's fair to ask for compensation beyond a free return pass and admission to the park. If local or state authorities aren't already investigating the incident, use that constituent services phone number to ask for one.

The overwhelming majority of the time -- ninety-nine-point-lots-of-nines-percent -- park personnel come through with fair compensation and take care of the people who've been inconvenienced or hurt in their parks. They want happy customers and will make the reasonable effort to help you feel happy at the end of the day. Only when visitors and park managers disagree over what is "reasonable" will cases end up with lawyers, in court.

In those cases, it's up to a jury to decide whether the visitor's request was reasonable or not. Which is why I think it's so important for you to show up next time you're called for jury duty. If we're going to get reasonable decisions from the courts, we need reasonable people on those juries. Don't leave that duty to someone else when you're called to do your part.

Have you ever been offered compensation from a theme park for an evacuation or some other mishap? Have you ever asked for that? Please share your story, in the comments.

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Readers' Opinions

From 68.117.28.2 on April 3, 2013 at 1:09 PM
I do think that if a ride breaks down when you are in line you should get a front of the line pass as well. It is very frustrating to get a fast pass for a ride only to have it break down or you have been waiting in line for a half hour and the ride breaks down.

I think if you are stuck on a ride for longer than 30 minutes you should get (at the least) a free meal or part of your ticket price refunded.

From Shannon Nelson on April 3, 2013 at 1:16 PM
I think anything over an hour should be a free 1 day pass, under that not really anything except maybe a free burger or butterbeer if at Universal. In 2007 I was stuck on spiderman for maybe 20 minutes if that and didnt get or want anything, it was just one of those things that happend. Unless youre stuck on a ride for an hour or more should you really get anything substantial, less than that, something like I stated above.
From Duncan Henny on April 3, 2013 at 1:17 PM
i have never been evacuated, but back in 1990 we got free complimentary tickets as most of the rides at universal were not working. (i still have them somewhere unused too)
From Shannon Nelson on April 3, 2013 at 1:18 PM
Also, if you stay at universal, a front of the line pass wouldn't matter.
From 98.176.49.12 on April 3, 2013 at 1:23 PM
I agree with all of your comments regarding what is fair. However, these days, it's all about what you can get for what you don't deserve because of "the economy". I'm sick of hearing that statement. People feel more and more entitled to things like excessive compensation when something unfortunate happens. It sucks that a ride breaks down, especially while you were on it but I also know it happens from time to time.

There are times when I think excessive compensation is required like sitting in the blazing sun while waiting to be evacuated or if there is a water element involved. Rides like small world, no. Rides like a looping rollercoaster in florida during August, yes.

Free passes to come back, meal passes in the park, behind the scene tours, reservations, etc., I think are all valid compensation items. Things that add value are what we always tried to use with guests before anything else was considered. Cash is not an option IMO.

From Denise Rambo on April 3, 2013 at 1:40 PM
When "The Forbidden Journey" first opened at USIOA, it was VERY glitchy for a while. The first time my son and I rode it, the ride got stuck partway through and we were suspended in midair for a short while, then when they finally got it going, the film was all screwed up and pretty much ruined the ride for us. I thought the LEAST they could have done was let us stay on and go around again - but NOOOO ... they made us get off and get BACK in line! I was really pissed.

On the other hand, my son's phone flew OUT of his pocket when we were on Tower of Terror at DHS and found it's way through probably the ONE open area of the car and went hurtling 30 feet or more to be smashed to smithereens at the bottom of the elevator shaft. It was the first ride of the day and he was SO upset that he couldn't even think straight and just wanted to get out of the park. I went to Guest Services and they voided that day's entry on our multi-day tickets so a whole day wouldn't be wasted. They also mailed back the dozens of little pieces of his phone several weeks later.

From Iris Hernandez on April 3, 2013 at 1:36 PM
My niece and I were evacuated from Revenge of the Mummy in Universal Orlando twice in one day and both times in the same spot.

The first time it happened we were automatically given express passes to return later, in which I thought was awesome and just. We then decided to try it again as our last ride of the day....bad idea. To our surprise and dismay for my niece it happens again. Since there were two hrs left until the park closes they tried offering another express pass, sorry but we absolutely had to leave after this ride and the extra 20 min we waited to get evacuated already had me in hot waters with my sister.

I was then advised to go to guest services. So, after calming my sister down I went there. I calmly explained to them that the whole purpose of this visit was for my niece to ride ROTM and I had paid for ticket and couldn't afford another one. The employee was very understanding and gave me a pair of 1 day tickets to return whenever we wanted.

Thank you Universal! You really made my nieces trip worth it at the end :-)

From Brian Emery on April 3, 2013 at 1:38 PM
$1.50
From Rob Pastor on April 3, 2013 at 1:59 PM
The longest I was ever on a breakdown was about 15 minutes on Forbidden Journey adjacent to the Dragon's mist spray. Actually enjoyed it immensely, especially my girlfriend's screaming most of the time. I would have probably paid extra for that whole bit. LOL
From Charles Reichley on April 3, 2013 at 1:57 PM
The man didn't win a judgement from a court for $8000. The man threatened a suit, and Disney settled with him for $8000.

In my opinion, the reason they settled was twofold. First, he was wheelchair-bound, so he was a sympathetic complainant.

And maybe more importantly, when he went to their medical center, it turned out the counter was higher than legally allowed by ADA rules. So Disney was definitely ripe to be hit with a judgement for that.

It was simply easier to pay the guy and then fix the counter.


From 168.93.162.10 on April 3, 2013 at 1:59 PM
I was stuck on Splash Mountain with my daughter and had to be evacuated after the decision was made to shut it down after over 45 minutes waiting in our logs. Cast members walked by twice without speaking to anyone and clearly were unsure what to do. A man with a younger child that had to go to the bathroom tried asking a passing cast member if he could get out but was ignored. After a half hour he disregarded the overhead speaker instructions and got out of the log with his child seeking an exit.

We were given a Fast Pass for Splash backstage for that day. The cast member refused to give an additional pass to a man who said his wife had run by to get to a bathroom and the cast member offered no help to those who said they could not ride Splash that day, particularly as it was not known if it would reopen.

I stopped and expressed my concerns with the unsafe evacuation and the underprepared cast members at members services. I was later contacted at home after our trip and expressed my concerns again to the cast member. Without asking, Disney sent me a thank you and 1 day tickets for my whole family a little later.

From 67.193.46.230 on April 3, 2013 at 2:17 PM
At Cedar Point, a few years ago, my husband and grandson and I waited nearly 1 hour and a half to get onto the "Maverick" for the final ride of the day. The wait was so long because the ride had been interrupted. Eventually, we were told that it would be shut down for the day and all the people that were stuck on the ride and all the people waiting in line still were given the option to walk over with a guide to "the Dragster" (which had an average wait time of 2 hrs) and be taken right to the front of the line to compensate. That was awesome.
From 67.238.100.58 on April 3, 2013 at 2:42 PM
My most memorable ride evac was from Journey to the Center of the Earth at Tokyo DisneySea. At this point in time I had only lived in Japan for about 6 months and was no where near fluent in the language. My vehicle stopped on the descent into the mushroom forest. Pre-recorded announcements (thankfully bilingual) were made to inform us they would be evacuating and wait for a cast member. When the cast members arrived to release our lap bars and walk us up the cat walks, they only spoke Japanese, so I just played follow the leader and did whatever everyone else in my vehicle did so that I could figure out where to go/what to do.

As we exited each guest received a front of line pass (again bilingual text.) It was exciting to see the ride with the work lights on and OLC's cast members were quick, efficient, professional and extremely polite (downright apologetic.) If I were just a casual theme park visitor, not understanding the verbal instructions would have likely been more stressful, but being a seasoned theme park visitor as both a cast member and guest, I took it all in stride.

From Mitchell Olson on April 3, 2013 at 3:24 PM
I understand and agree with most of the observations you made and Disney is top notch at handling guest's issues (usually resulting in a Magical Moment for the guest). My thought on the issue would be if someone had an "accident" due to incontinence, illness, hypoglycemic attack / diabetic shock / panic attack during a 30 minute or more delay on a ride. For the people experiencing these life threatening / embarrassing situations in an enclosed and isolated location could very easily be worth a substantial compensation.
From Anon Mouse on April 3, 2013 at 3:37 PM
There shouldn't be any compensation if guests were evacuated quickly and without incidence. That didn't happen here. The disabled guest was forced to wait much longer than other guests. They need to improve their evacuation procedures to ensure guests were not made to wait. This happens all the time. Rides like roller coasters are especially bad in evacuating their guests. Some wait times are several hours.

If the park is especially crowded, I do think the guests should be given front of the line passes for their missed ride and perhaps some other rides as well.

From 184.38.209.72 on April 3, 2013 at 3:44 PM
1 day free pass, valid for 1 year from the date of the incident.
From Monty Sanders on April 3, 2013 at 4:17 PM
As in insider, I was a rides mechanic, we had to evacuate rides quite often but the safety of the guests was number one. Sometimes it may seem like a long wait but it's because of safety concerns. We always tried to get the ride going first. If we couldn't then the decision to evacuate the ride as safely as possible would be made. People have to remember that getting people off the ride in tough spots is not easy. As for being compensated for it, I think guests sometimes expect too much. As much as we try to make rides as foolproof as can be, they are machines and machines break. As long as the crew gets you off safely and as quickly as possible you should be glad they have a plan to do so. We would always tell the guests what was happening and that we would get them off as soon as we can. Most understood and were very cooperative. I can only remember two or three times when a guest got upset and unruly.
From 24.61.177.225 on April 3, 2013 at 4:23 PM
I got in a bus accident on a Disney bus going from the hotel to Downtown Disney in 2009. We sat and waited at the scene while the bus driver talked to dispatch and talked to the driver of the car he rear ended. After a good half hour, he drove the bus to a parking lot and waited there for a replacement bus that came over 1/2 hour later. The driver took all of our names and numbers, which also took a while. We never heard a peep and never received as much as a phone call for missing dinner reservations and having to sit there almost 2 hours.
stwombly@gmail.com
From TH Creative on April 3, 2013 at 5:33 PM
$1.75
From AJ Hummel on April 3, 2013 at 6:22 PM
My opinion:

-If you are stuck on a ride for under 30 minutes, are not evacuated from the ride, and waited 30 minutes or less in line, you get nothing except an immediate re-ride (if possible).
-If you are stuck on a ride for more than 30 minutes, waited more than 30 minutes for the attraction, or are evacuated from the ride, you get one exit pass plus an additional exit pass for every 30 minutes you were stuck.
-If you are stuck for more than an hour, you get a free meal in addition to the exit passes.
-If you are stuck for more than two hours, you have a choice between an unlimited exit pass and a free ticket for another day.
-If you are in line for a ride when it breaks down, you recieve no compensation unless you are forced to leave the line, in which case you get a single exit pass.
-If you are injured on the attraction (unless the injury results from your actions), the park pays all medical costs and provides compensation for any remaining vacation time that cannot be enjoyed due to injuries.
-If you are stuck on an outdoor attraction for an extended period of time, the park should provide water and sunscreen if possible.
-If personal property is damaged, the park should replace the items up to a reasonable value as long as they were not being used in a prohibited manner.
-In the event that a breakdown causes a guest to miss a dining reservation, the park should provide alternate arrangements.
-The park should not keep guests in the dark about a malfunction, and should inform riders of the situation and keep them updated as long as they are stuck on the attraction (exact details are not necessary, but employees should tell guests anything that might affect them and answer any questions they have).
-Disabled visitors should be informed that for safety reasons it may take longer to remove them from an attraction should an evacuation be required.
-Under no circumstances should the park be obliged to give guests monetary compensation for any misfortune they may experience.

From 71.198.104.185 on April 3, 2013 at 10:19 PM
At least Disney tries to compensate for something. If this happened at Six Flags! Good Luck. I was not even on the ride when an accident happen on the coaster. The young teenagers working at the time said it will be a 20 min wait. Find no problem. Then it became a 30 min wait. Again, no problem being this was a new ride. Then after waiting for about 45 min. they said the ride was closing for the day. At this time the park was closed and people complained that they could have ridden another ride during that waiting time. I was returning back to the park the next day so to me it was no big deal. However, they offered us to pick between two other coasters that are popular and usually have a long wait. So the staff says the folks are aware of the breakdown and will let us ride one last time.

So we walk over and what happens..they denied us and said the park was closed. The folks said to contact the rider operator and that we were told they would know about it. The crew said they were not told anything and that they have already shut the ride down for the day. Of course some folks started acting up and security showed up along with the park police. So safe to say don't expect anything from Six flags.

From 94.4.23.215 on April 4, 2013 at 1:27 AM
Sadly, as hard as I try, in 18 years of visiting Disney Parks (DLP,WDW,DLR) for many days every year, I have never experienced a break down. The closest I came was, after waiting for 5 minutes for RnRC at DHS; it went down. I received a FastPass valid for the next week at any time. On another note...
Wouldn't it be great if Fexit Felix Jr turned up when a ride broke down in Disney? To create magic from a problem is just staggering guest service.
From 208.200.11.205 on April 4, 2013 at 5:25 AM
They should be compensated nothing.
From 24.244.248.8 on April 4, 2013 at 5:34 AM
Well said!!!! I agree. I was stuck on the Mummy right below the ceiling of flames for 10 min. I didn't get upset because these things happen. I did get a little nervous because our faces were getting hot (fire was off but heat still there)but I knew we were in capable hands.
Everytime you enter into a theme park you need to understand rides do break down. Be patient.
From Mark Hollamon on April 4, 2013 at 5:38 AM
The judgement is a joke and says a lot about what his wrong with the world today.

Unless the person was injured or a serious condition was worsened by sitting longer in a seat waiting to be evacuated then I don't see how the theme park (whatever park) should be held liable for any type of damages.

What I WOULD do if I owned the park is set specific guidelines on what cast members should offer if a ride becomes inoperative and people have to be evacuated.

My wife and I were stuck on Cat in the Hat for 30 minutes one visit and finally a cast member came to each car to evacuate us and we were never offered an express pass or an apology or anything. The only thing the cast member did was tell me to quit filming the event with my iPhone.

We didn't ask for anything, but If I were in charge each person who experienced this would have been given either an express pass and a food voucher or a one day pass back to the park.

What cast members and management need to keep in the front of their brains when handling a situation such as this is most of the guests put out some serious cash to be there and sitting in a broken down dark ride is not their idea of a good vacation experience. Sure, a food voucher or a one day pass would cost the park money, but it is a wise investment to keep a good customer happy.

By the way, my wife and I have not renewed annual passes to USF since. Not specifically because of that incident, but it did weigh in on our decision.

From Brian Emery on April 4, 2013 at 6:33 AM
Mark Cat in the hat does not have CM.. CM are from Disney so it makes sense they would not help you. Or were you in 2 parks at the same time?

Space time continuum machine?

I am sure your non renewal season pass showed them....

From Gemma French on April 4, 2013 at 6:18 AM
Things happen. You're paying to get into the park, not to ride specific rides, the last time I went I was disappointed that a couple of rides I've not had the chance to ride since I was a kid had broken down. Gutted actually but that's life, I'll ride them again one day.

I think compensation should be front of the queue passes for the ride, that's all. You're not guaranteed to ride any ride, nor are you paying for that particular ride, you're paying for entry.

Test track was closed when I was sat there too, and it was the time before so I've never ridden that, but there's always next time!

And yes we've been stuck on a few rides, the last one was the haunted mansion, didn't expect a thing.

From TROY DAVIDSON on April 4, 2013 at 7:52 AM
I was stuck on Dinosaur at Disney's Animal Kingdom for over 30 minutes several months ago. It was funny when all the lights came on; all the "plants and greenery" looked like Disney used all their old Christmas trees and stapled them to the wall. They were not happy people were videotaping the ride with the lights on. We got a fast pass, but the ride never opened. That same night I got evacuated off Everest at the main lift hill....Not a good night. Three weeks later on a cold January night we were stuck on Rip, Ride, Rock-it at the 2nd to last break run. (pretty high up as we could see the fireworks going off at Disney. It was freezing cold and they offered us front of the line pass good for a two week period. We were stranded up there for at least 30 minutes and they had to bring a battery pack type device and unlock each seat one by one. Not fun, but, it didn’t ruin my night. (Season passes make things not so bad)

From 71.79.163.123 on April 4, 2013 at 8:27 AM
One time I was stuck on Nemo Subs for over an hour. When they got me off they gave a return pass for the ride which was beneficial since the ride has recently opened and wait times were around 3 hours. I was visiting by myself but I noticed the ticket was good for 5 or 6 riders. When I went back to re-ride later that evening, I picked out a family of four that was far back in the line and got them to the front with me.
From 70.127.63.182 on April 4, 2013 at 10:15 AM
Been evacuated twice.Once from splash mt at magic kingdom and once at tower of terror at hollywood studios.Both times we didn 't have to ask. We were automatically given front of line passes and also fast passes to whatever attraction we wanted.We actually thought it was pretty exciting and cool.
From Don Neal on April 4, 2013 at 10:38 AM
Four of us got stuck on Rip Ride Rockit on the furthest out break run for about 30-40 minutes. Since we were the furthest out, we were the last to be evacuated. The staff finally made it out to us with waters for everyone and a medic to check on us. We all got express passes to come back and go to the front. It was about 90 degrees that day, super hot, but the breeze helped. The worst part was listening to the same song over and over. All in all, I think they handled it fine and I expected no more than the water and express pass. No one was hurt and the time to evacuate us seemed reasonable.

I agree that people expect too much and their definition of "inconvenienced" is beyond reasonable. In the case of the man in the wheelchair, I think whoever pointed out the counter height as a potential factor hit it on the head.

From Bobbie Butterfield on April 4, 2013 at 11:18 AM
I am almost completely in agreement with what Robert Niles has said and largely in agreement with what others have said. Last July I got stuck on Maverick for almost 45 minutes and the compensation given by Cedar Point - one ride each on Maverick, Millennium Force and Top Thrill Dragster without having to wait in line - struck me as equitable at the time. However, upon reconsideration, I think that a Fast Lane pass for the remainder of the day would have been more equitable. 98.17649.12 referred to baking in the hot sun. This is precisely the condition under which I was stuck on Maverick due to a rollback, and as a result I became nauseated and suffered a severe sunburn. So I may have been undercompensated. The maddening thing is that if someone had simply released the restraints, I could have walked off the ride. But no, ride op said that she couldn't let anyone off without the permission of a supervisor. I understand that there are rules to be followed, but forcing riders to sit there in the blazing heat, made even hotter by the harnesses, did not strike me as entirely reasonable or justifiable.
From 128.163.8.46 on April 4, 2013 at 12:26 PM
One morning I was evacuated from an indoor roller coaster/dark ride attraction twice. I just enjoyed the experience. I was treated to a behind the scenes tour as I was safely escorted through the building and didn't wait more than 5-10 minutes each time. This was a three train operation and when I went back to ride again later in the day I was remembered as being evacuated twice and the ride op joked that she wasn't sure if she should let me on. It was all in good fun and we did make the complete circuit the third time. Now, if I had sat in the hot sun 300 feet in the air for 4 hours, well I might have felt the need to ask for something.
From Tracy Bates on April 5, 2013 at 5:20 AM
Most of the times I've been stuck, it was only for a few minutes so I didn't really expect anything.

Once, though, there was a major problem at Busch Gardens Williamsburg and I really thought they took excellent care of us.

Below is what I wrote about it on my blog at the time:

Before I go into the Tolstoy version, let me start off with the simple statement that we had a wonderful time, and while the tour went drastically wrong, it didn’t go wrong in a fashion that they could have avoided, so they did lots of other cool stuff to make it up to us. While personally disappointed to miss what I went there for, they handled in professionally and went the extra yard to keep everyone on the tour happy. We will be rescheduling the tour at a later time this season, so we definitely have something to look forward to.

Tolstoy version: We started off the day by being at the park well ahead of the park opening. They escorted us to our parking area over by the kennels, and we headed into the park for the tour. First stop of the day: Griffon. They always start with this before the park opens because part of the tour involves taking us up the trolley to the top of the lift hill where they point out some of the engineering design and how things work as well as give you a great view of the park. Ben (One of the tour guides) took the first group of six up to the top while Melissa (The other guide) stayed down with the rest of us talking about the tour and the park and answered any questions we had. They took the next group over to the trolley and that’s where the problems started. It seems the lift had broken and they couldn’t get it to go back up to retrieve the first 6 people. We waited here while the mechanics worked on the lift because this part of the tour has to be done before the park opens. After about 45 minutes or so, the take us into the maintenance area for Griffon and show us the various pieces parts that are below track level and make the whole thing work. This is an interesting part of the tour, and this was the best of the show as far as the maintenance areas go because it was the only one with a train in the shop so it had the most to look at. After this, we go back outside and wait a while longer. They finally figured out the problem and got it fixed, but they weren’t 100% convinced it would stay fixed, so they wouldn’t let anyone else go up to the top. Also, the ride would stay closed for a while that morning while they made sure the lift was working right because that is the primary way they evacuate the ride in an emergency and they won’t run the ride unless that is working. Because of this, we couldn’t ride it yet either…

At this point, Josh and Georgette told us what they were going to do to make it up to us. To start with, they were going to take us over to Verbolten to ride it even though it’s not part of the tour yet since it just opened yesterday. Also, they were going to give us a behind the scenes look at the ride building and the control room. Also, they were going to reschedule anyone who wanted to come back later for a free tour and if you don’t already have season passes, they would include park admission so you wouldn’t have to pay to come back. We asked if they would throw in a free T-shirt since we already have season passes and don’t know if we’ll be able to come back this year. They politely said no to that one. They took us straight over to Verbolten and took us inside the ‘black forest’ building for a behind the scenes look at what the coaster does when it goes dark, only we got to see if with all the lights on. The only drawback was we weren’t allowed to take any photos of it… Bummer.

Essentially, though, they gave us a behind the scenes look at the coaster before they offer behind the scenes looks at the coaster. After we left the building, we went around the back side of the ride to see the track from a different perspective. This we could photograph since it was outside anyway. They also pointed out the old loading buildings from Drachen Fire which are now used as a haunted house come Halloween. After going back around front, they loaded us all on the ride for a run through of it. We got the lightning ending this time. We left here and headed down to Apollo’s Chariot for two rides on it. (This is not part of the normal tour. After two quick runs on it, I remember why it’s still my Favorite coaster in the park. After we got off this, they gave us quick queue passes so we could come back and ride the various other rides in the park without waiting in line and for my wife they gave her a coupon for a free meal. (She wasn’t participating in the rides, so they wanted to give her something extra.) They made a big deal out of these because they included every other big ride in the park and not just the coasters. Certainly, they came in useful later, although the lines for many of the other rides were super short because everyone was waiting in the verbolten line. As an extra special bonus, they gave us a ticket to go back and ride verbolten again today. this easily saved us two hours of sitting in line because the line for that ride as all the way down to the bridge overlooking the last drop on the ride, which makes it a really long wait.

After this, we went back to Griffon, which was now running for our two rides on it. This is probably my second favorite ride in the park. Next, we were off to loch ness monster, which is probably my least favorite ride in the park. There’s not anything wrong with the ride, just the fact that it’s the oldest and roughest leads to it not being a fun ride to me. (the tour didn’t include the ride on this, so this was also an extra.) I did learn that on the tour that the track tolerances for when that ride was built was 6 feet and that when it was constructed the last section didn’t line up for a few feet and they just heated up the track and bent it to make it line up. (This was in 1978 when it was made. For alpengeist, that tolerance was down to an 8th of an inch, and by Griffon it was down to a 16th of an inch.)

Then we headed over to alpengeist and got our two rides followed by the behind the scenes visit to the maintenance bay where we interupted the lunch of one of the mechanics since we were so late by this time. There are many similarities in the mechanical parts of this coaster and Griffon since they are made by the same manufacturer.

It’s also one of the two cars in the US to have a zero car, which is a weighted car at the front of the coaster to make sure the train has enough speed to make it through the ride. (The other being Manta at Seaworld Orlando.)

This was the last stop on our tour and I can truthfully say we had a wonderful time and are looking forward to our return visit. Our free tour expired because we never made it back to the park that year, but we plan on taking the tour again the next time we go because it really was a lot of fun and they treated us great. We've been passholders since 2000 and don't ever plan on cancelling our passes with them.

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