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Robert Niles
Editor

Vote of the week: What's the longest you've been stuck on a theme park ride?

Published: October 11, 2013 at 11:00 AM

Since stuck roller coasters appear to be so popular (with the people running TV channels, at least), let's play along. Let's talk about the longest time you've ever been stuck on a theme park ride.

It's a Small World
How much time could you handle being stuck in here?

Perhaps you've been lucky (or you just don't visit parks that often), and you've never had a ride stop for more than a moment while you're on board. But anyone who's ever worked attractions in a park knows that shut-downs happen somewhere in the park every day. Typically, a shut-down only lasts a few minutes, until a crying child is calmed, a misunderstanding with a wheelchair party overcome, or a falsely-flagged sensor reset. But as we saw earlier this week Universal Orlando's Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rocket, a shut-down can last hours when people are stuck in a location not easily accessible by park employees.


Please share your favorite theme park ride "break-down" story, in the comments.

Speaking of comments, a comment on our post on that incident reported that It's a Small World also was shut down at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom this week, for about 45 minutes. Visitors stuck on that ride (where the famous theme song continued to play for 30 of those minutes) were offered an additional Fastpass to the ride of their choice as compensation for their ordeal.

That got me thinking: How long would you be willing to endure being stuck on It's a Small World in order to score a Fastpass for any other ride? Let's assume that it's a busy summer day, and all other Fastpasses for that ride have been distributed, so this is the only way to bypass the stand-by line. And let's also assume that the Small World theme song is playing the entire time while you're stuck. How long would you wait, stuck, on Small World to get an-otherwise impossible Fastpass to Tower of Terror? (Probably a few minutes, right?) To Toy Story Midway Mania? (Probably longer?) To the Swiss Family Treehouse? (Zero-point-zero minutes for that one, I'm guessing.)

Taking a page from fantasy sports geeks, this could be the new metric for measuring an attraction's popularity. Let's call it "MSOSW" for "minutes stuck on Small World" — the number of minutes you would be willing to endure on a stuck Small World ride to get an otherwise unavailable Fastpass to that attraction. Which attraction would you assign the largest MSOSW? Which ones would get a zero? How many strange looks can we get in the park while talking about various attractions' MSOSW value? Surely no more than baseball geeks talking about VORP, right?

Replies (32)

Vaughn Miller

Published: October 11, 2013 at 11:23 AM

I have not been stuck on a ride myself, however my wife and oldest son wre on a raft ride at The Great Escape Water Park in Lake George, NY. They were 15 - 20 feet from the end when a pump failed and they had to wait about 5 minutes for the water to drain away so they could safely get out. I still find it funny, freedom was so close yet so far away.
Anon Mouse

Published: October 11, 2013 at 11:30 AM

The Universal Hollywood tram ride is nearly 1 hour long. I consider that to be "stuck" on a theme park ride.
216.207.245.1

Published: October 11, 2013 at 11:57 AM

Got stuck on Splash Mountain for about 40 minutes during the Not so scary Halloween. It was a nightmare listing to "Looks like Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear are causing trouble down by the watering hole" for that long.....
69.119.81.116

Published: October 11, 2013 at 12:31 PM

I was stuck on Everest for a not even 5 minutes last year, and they gave us fast passes to get right back on, that was really nice.
Other than that, on the Superman ride at Six Flags New England, stuck at the top of the first hill for 45 minutes. It was a hot summer day, not a cloud in the sky; would have been nice if they have given us a least a bottle of water or something. We were baking up there!
98.14.132.234

Published: October 11, 2013 at 1:03 PM

Stuck on the "Carousel of Progress" at the Magic Kingdom. The first time the ride didn't move - and we had to watch the 1950's stage again - the crowd remained silent and polite - looking around for the non existent human in the room that would explain what was happening.

The third time we launched into "Now is the time. Now is the best time. Now is the best time of your life...." there was nervous laughter - a few loud laughs as we realized we had to hear the song again along with the girl on the electric waist trimmer stuttering "Gee, Babs..."

The fourth time, someone yelled out "Gee, Babs..." and got a big laugh from the crowd. Eventually, some were even singing along - sarcastically with "Now is the time..." . By the fifth - it was like Rocky Horror. Audience member shouting along line-for-line, even inserting a well-timed joke here and there.

Oh, it got old. Soooo OOOOOLD. Unforgettable though. we toughed it out together for about eight or nine runthroughs. Maybe an hour.

Robert Niles
Editor

Published: October 11, 2013 at 1:15 PM

Getting a little insider-y here, but the one time you will be guaranteed to be stuck on a roller coaster is during a media day. Parks often invite local youth groups and such to "fill out the seats" while media types sit up front and get recorded riding. But the time needed to set up the recording almost ensures that the train with the camera gear will spend many, many minutes in the station between runs. And if you're in the other train, waiting to get into the station after your run, well, better get comfortable.
74.235.192.240

Published: October 11, 2013 at 1:22 PM

On Stich's Great Escape I was locked down in a steel harness in a dark room and tortured with chili farts and spit in my face. It was horrible.
Mike Gallagher

Published: October 11, 2013 at 1:48 PM

I was stuck on the lift hill of Big Dipper at Geauga lake at Coaster EXT in 2007. It took about 20 minutes in blistering heat. That's where I was was when I heard about the accident on Raging Wolf Bobs on the other side of the park, which I had two very good rides on earlier that day. That ride never reopened..and after that season, neither did the park.
N B

Published: October 11, 2013 at 2:18 PM

The longest we were stuck on any ride was last years visit to Universal. MIB broke down and we were exactly half way through... which means we were the last to be taken off the ride.

With the lights on, we were able to see al the detail that went into one of our favorite rids of all time and take plenty of pictures.

We actually found the experience enjoyable because we were able to slowly walk out along side the track with four ride operators and they stopped and pointed out where hidden targets are on some of the high scoring aliens.

It was like getting a guided tour / preview that Robert get's to enjoy from time to time.

155.98.164.36

Published: October 11, 2013 at 2:45 PM

Hubby and I got stuck on Pirates of the Caribbean at Magic Kingdom for just over and hour. It was at the end of the Halloween party and the boat was just engaged on the hill for the exit. therefore,they could not just push the boat back. We had several employees come by to keep us enterained waiting for the fire department to come. We had to have firemen hold our hand while we stepped over seats to the back of the boat and to the next boat. Then over to the edge in front of the treasure room with Jack Sparrow. it was fun getting to walk out thru some of the back area's of the ride and having employees point out hidden Mickey's etc. But we couldn't get a picture with Jack in the treasure room. No pictures inside the ride. It felt odd walking thru the park witout any visitors only a few employees stating to clean up and finishing the lock up. We just made the last boat and the monorail has stopped so I kind of wonder how we would have gotten back to parking if we had been 5 minuetes later.
Jaiden Cohen

Published: October 11, 2013 at 3:26 PM

Was stuck almost falling out of the vehicle on forbidden journey at IOA for ten minuets. Worst thing: we were in the forbidden forest with spitting Arragog.
74.89.129.148

Published: October 11, 2013 at 3:34 PM

Many many many years ago. We were taking my Aunt and Uncle to Disneyland. We got stuck on Pirates. At first they kept everything going - all the sounds and effects, etc. Then they took out the sound so the figures kept moving but their mouths didn't move. Finally they stopped. Then cast members in waders came out and pushed our boat back until we were up against one of the walkways, then they took us out of the boat and we walked back stage and exited. Pretty cool, actually.
173.65.69.59

Published: October 11, 2013 at 3:57 PM

My wife and I were the couple who received FastPasses compensating for being stalled on IaSW two weeks ago. Had we not been passholders, we probably would have been much more unhappy about wasting 45 minutes of a vacation stalled on a barge in Old Fantasyland. Since the FP was limited to MK, my hunny bunny wanted to use it for something she hadn't been on yet. Off we went to Under the Sea, which she pronounced "cute." Had we the choice of anywhere at WDW, I imagine we would have used it at Midway Mania. I imagine that's about the only current attraction worth 45 minutes (plus the sonic irritation) of dead time, at least to us.
Mike Gallagher

Published: October 11, 2013 at 5:15 PM

Jaiden said: "Was stuck almost falling out of the vehicle on forbidden journey at IOA for ten minuets"

They let you dance on the ride? :)

24.218.30.249

Published: October 11, 2013 at 5:49 PM

We were stuck on Big Thunder Mountain for thirty minutes in the middle of the third lift hill. It was fun getting to walk through the mountain to get out.
Annette Forrest

Published: October 11, 2013 at 6:10 PM

I think this happened three years ago. My family and I were stuck on Haunted Mansion twice in one day. We all still joke about this, like the ghosts didn't want us to leave. The first time happened in the morning. I think on that ride, we were stuck for about 25 minutes; we were stuck going down in the cemetery, just a bit before the Gravedigger and his doggy. The way we were turned, we were looking at all the tombstones and I think the gravedigger and dog were to our right and we had to kind of crane to see them. It was an awkward position to be in. I remember the music started to get to us after a while because it just repeats. And they had that emergency message come on, saying something like the spirits were interfering or something. And then they played something in Spanish. I personally hate hearing Spanish, so that's what irked me: I kept having to hear that and I wish Disney didn't have Spanish recordings playing.

Later in the day, the same thing happened, but this time we were stuck in Madame Leota's seance room. That was better than being stuck in the graveyard, but I think we were stuck in there for 20 minutes. It seemed less than the first time we were stuck. I am very clumsy and so I never try to take my phone out of my pocket when on rides so I didn't check how long we were stuck. I was afraid I'd drop my phone out of the Doom Buggy. We heard all the Leota music and her spiel many, many times though...and of course all that emergency warning recording and then all that Spanish (which I assume was just repeating the English).

98.228.182.112

Published: October 11, 2013 at 9:31 PM

Robert, it's articles like this that makes this my favorite theme park website. The only attraction I would give an MSOSM to would be Soarin at Epcot because we all know that if it's the middle of the day chances are you will not be getting a fastpass for that one if you are making your way from magic kingdom. I would give it a good 20inutes for that one and maybe Tron Track as well.
Dave De La Rosa

Published: October 11, 2013 at 9:37 PM

Maybe around '86 or '87 we were trying to convince my cousin to try a few more rides, becausehe was worried about their safety. That said, Air Racers at SFot had become one of my faves. So off I go to get a ride in, when lo and behold it goes offline. At the top of the tower no less. So there I sit, plane to myself, looking at my cousin and mom waiting for me down below. Somewhere right around 60 minutes things get back together and soon I'm on the ground again. Ask my cousin if he wants to ride, looks me cross, says no. I think we hit Roaring Rapids next. I was a kid, didn't matter.
71.79.163.123

Published: October 11, 2013 at 10:22 PM

Not long after Finding Nemo Subs opened I was stuck on it for at least about two hours, they gave me a Fastpass good for any ride. I was so upset at Nemo I vowed never to ride again and was going to use it at Space-Mountain when the FP castmember talked me out of it, she said it was rare to get one. I decided to give Nemo another try, I loved the ride just didn't want to get stuck again. When I decided to use the FP later that evening I noticed the pass was good for up to five guests. I was visiting by myself so I decided to share the wealth, this was when lines for Nemo were in excess of 3 hours. I found a family of four near the back of the line and brought them to the front with me, it felt good to do that plus I had some company on the ride.
72.67.214.157

Published: October 11, 2013 at 11:33 PM

Knotts Berry farm. There was a loud bang and the power went out. All rides froze for...I want to say and hour because that how long it felt but it's more likely that it was about 35-45 minutes. That was kind of a scary experience in general.
Doug Jenkins

Published: October 12, 2013 at 4:36 AM

I was stuck on HP Forbidden Journey for 25 minutes not long after they opened. That would not have been so bad except I was in the pitched over forward position for 15 of that. I am a large man and the weight on my chest was excruciating. Once they straightend us up and turned on the lights, it wasn't so bed. I did enjoy seeing the mechanics of the ride. The technology is incredible.
Doug Jenkins

Published: October 12, 2013 at 4:40 AM

And as to being stuck on the Small World ride as you described. The fast pass would be nice except I would probably have to be carried out in a straight jacket after listening to that song for so long. I have purposely not ridden that ride in over 10 years (no small children) and now again I already can't get that tune out of my head. Thanks a lot.
Ian Robinson

Published: October 12, 2013 at 6:42 AM

My ex-boss got stuck on Disneyland Paris' It's A Small World for 2 hours - and they didn't turn the song off! Couldn't happen to a nicer guy...
94.171.233.129

Published: October 12, 2013 at 8:55 AM

Me and three friends got stuck during the last scene of "The little mermaid" at new fantasy land this august. It was a short cue with just enough time before meeting back up with our friends who had been in other parks that day so we decided to ride for the third time (two of us love the little mermaid). We got stuck for about 30 mins and knew all of Scuttle's speech by the time it restarted. We never had an explanation and when I enquired about the hassle it had caused, the cast member was not helpful at all and just told us to keep moving. We didn't fuss because it was our last day and we had completed everything we wanted to do. It was fun sending snapchats to the group who were all waiting for us explaining our issues.
71.58.83.58

Published: October 12, 2013 at 8:57 AM

My wife and I were stuck suspended in the air on the skyway ride at Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, between England and France. At the time (over 25 years ago) we had our 2 year old daughter and 1 year old son in the car with us, and they were both squirming around to try to look over the side, forcing us to hang on tightly to them. It was only for about 15 minutes, but it seemed like hours.
72.80.156.103

Published: October 12, 2013 at 9:10 AM

This summer on a family visit to WDW, we got stuck on Pirates of the Caribbean for 45 mins. We were at the point where they are burning Tortuga, and for awhile they left the sound track on until they made an announcement and it went silent. At one point they asked everyone to rock left and right in their boats, but that did nothing.

After about 30mins, a young lady sitting in the front of our boat started singing "Uh Oh Uh Oh, I really have to pee" to the tune of the Pirate song. Everyone started laughing and then started sining along. That must have did the trick because shortly after, the ride started up again. And when we got to the end, there was now long wait at the rest rooms. :-)

Tim Hillman

Published: October 13, 2013 at 7:44 AM

Back when Busch Gardens Tampa had the monorail ride over the Serengeti Plain, I got put on a different monorail train from my family group, and the monorail train I was on broke down over the lion exhibit. Busch had to send out two other trains to push the train I was on back to the station. The whole process took well over an hour because Busch was running only 2 trains that day, and they had to get the second train out of storage. A total bummer for me and my parents who had to wait at the station while the rest of the relatives went on other rides.
Kara Leblanc

Published: October 13, 2013 at 10:27 AM

I have been stuck on a few rides. By far the worst was Tidal Wave at Busch Gardens Tampa. 3 boats were stuck right before you go up the hill. Ours was the 3rd boat and the last to be taken off. After about 40mins of wait our boat slowly start to sink. By the time we were unloaded at the hour and a half point we were sitting in waist deep water. Busch did give us front of the line passes and dry clothes.
70.137.1.141

Published: October 14, 2013 at 3:04 AM

After lurking for years, I have something to add to the conversation -

My wife and I got stuck in the Little Nemo ride in Orlando for about 25 to 30 minutes on our honeymoon. This was pretty tame as far as being "stuck" goes, but it forever etched the words of one of the scenes (the manta ray singing) in our brains.

To this day, it only takes one of us starting to sing "Ooooohhhh...!" to put us right back on that ride as newlyweds :)

If I remember correctly there were two lines of dialog that rotated every 15 seconds or so, and we must have heard them maybe 50 or 50 times each.

"OOOoooohhh......Let's go explore, explore, explore...Let's go explore the big blue world!!"

We also got stuck on Toy Story about a month after it opened in CA and had to evacuate the ride on foot with cast members leading us in single file lines, all the emergency and overhead lights on, and the majority of the screens and effects turned off. Kind of interesting to see the ride that way really.

It was a long time, maybe a half hour again, but we at least got to play the scenes for however long they ran. They quit keeping score after the first time but it was still fun. We also got a pair of "front of the line" passes that the cast member at Soarin' (I think) handed back to us and told us to go back to Toy Story with them as well since we didn't get to experience the right way.

All in all, it ended up being a good memorable experience :)

Bobbie Butterfield
Writer

Published: October 14, 2013 at 11:41 AM

The first time I attempted to ride Maverick, I got stuck on the lift hill for almost 45 minutes. This was in withering heat and humidity so that the wait for a ride op to get permission from a supervisor to release the restraints and help riders walk off seemed inordinately long. Cedar Point did compensate riders for the inconvenience by giving them immediate access to Millennium Force, Top Thrill Dragster and of course, Maverick once it reopened. I gather from the reaction of the ride ops at Dragster that rollbacks on Maverick are not uncommon but the risk of that happening twice in one day seemed minimal, so I did eventually get to ride Maverick. Unfortunately, despite my having put on sun screen, getting stuck on the lift hill resulted in a severe sunburn and nausea, negatively impacting my visit to the park.
Bradley Keith

Published: October 14, 2013 at 1:27 PM

Big shocker that it is NOT about Disney from me, last summer I was stuck on Firehawk at Kings Island near the middle of the lift hill for the better part of an hour. I'd say about 50 min? Being in that on your back position on the Flying Dutchman coaster was uncomfortable for that long. Eventually the chain was fixed and we completed the ride.

The way Kings Island handled it was mediocre, being in the HOT sun that long and the sun right in our eyes was terrible and we got passes to skip a line and sit anywhere; so all that for one front seat ride on Diamondback was "good enough" but I'm sure a place like Disney would have handled it differently.

142.176.58.202

Published: October 15, 2013 at 10:57 AM

My late father seemed to be cursed when it came to rides at Disney. He and I got stuck a few times. Last year on Splash during Mickey's not so scary for 30 minutes, and about 7 years ago, he and I got stuck on Test Track at the end of the speed run where it was banked. Being a big man, with me sliding down on him was very very uncomfortable. We were there for about 20 minutes before he finally whipped out his pocket knife and yelled "I'm cutting myself out if someone isn't here to get me out NOW!" Surprisingly enough, a CM immediately popped out from around the corner and shut down things and let us climb out. It was a ridiculous situation to be stuck for so long. We told the CMs to shove their fastpasses to TT where the sun didn't shine when they offered them. Now I understand why security asked me to check my pocket knife at my visit to the MK last year - they don't want any chance that you might be able to save yourself if needed.

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