Would you pay to be evacuated from a theme park ride?

September 20, 2018, 12:17 PM · Why ride a roller coaster when you could walk it, instead?

For your average theme park fan, that question is, of course, absurd. The whole point of a roller coaster is its speed and thrills, right? No one wants to experience a roller coaster at three miles per hour, trudging up and down track instead of flying across it, right?

Actually, many devoted coaster fans — the Theme Park Insiders of the world — would love that opportunity. Thousands of fans ride roller coasters daily. But only a select few get to travel the track outside the train for an up-close and extended view.

Warner Bros. Movie World in Australia is the latest theme park to offer such an opportunity to its fans. Up to eight people can book a morning climb up the park's DC Rivals Mack Rides hypercoaster, for a 282-step, 45-degree hike up the coaster's 200-foot lift.

We've written about similar experiences in American theme parks before: Experiencing Cedar Point's Sunrise Thrills VIP Tour and Taking the Coaster Insider Tour at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. The Australian climb costs AU$99.99 [US$72.78] and such tours have proven to be popular upsells among many roller coaster fans.

A lot of theme park fans want a chance to go behind the scenes and get a unique look at the operations behind their favorite attractions. That's why many frequent visitors actually enjoy when rides go down and they get to experience an evacuation, or "in-show exit," to use the official phrase.

When I worked Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom and was sent to escort people off the ride during an evacuation, I always offered to turn the walk back to the station into a behind the scenes tour, as a "turn lemons into lemonade" opportunity to make what could have been a day-ruining experience into an unexpected magic moment. People loved it.

Most cast members I knew did the same, so I guess it was inevitable that parks would decide to make money off this by offering coaster climbs and other backstage tours. But I wonder when some park will take the next step.

Since some people actually welcome the experience, could a theme park one-up the backstage tour by offering an upsell of... getting evacuated from a ride?

Now, you wouldn't want to send riders flying into a safety brake. But on many rides, you could stop the vehicles comfortably on a lift or at some designed exit point. So put the paying customers on board. Let 'em ride to the exit point. Stop the ride, then send the ops crew to evacuate them and walk them back to the station, giving them the behind the scenes tour along the way.

The fans get the in-show exit experience they have been chasing, and the ops crew gets extra evac training and experience. Wins all around, right? [By the way, I hope you're following the links in this post. Lots of fun — or at least, uh, "interesting" — stories behind them!]

Except that it's crazy to intentionally "break down" a ride while paying customers are riding it. And yet... given that there's a market of people out there who want that experience, I will not be surprised if, some day, a park just says "what the heck?" and offers this experience to fans, for a price.

Would you pay for a guaranteed evacuation from a theme park ride? If so, for which ones?

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Replies (14)

September 20, 2018 at 12:54 PM

Being evacuated from the Calico Mine Train at Knott’s when I was about 10 is one of the highlights of my childhood. The level of detail on some rides is such that you’ll not see everything on a normal cycle.

September 20, 2018 at 2:37 PM

The Manta got stuck on the lift hill (again !!) the Sunday after the picnic, and the 'escape pod' was sent up to rescue them. Not sure if too many people who were on that ride would want to pay for the same experience.
Personally I'd rather pay for the opportunity to walk the ride(s), as they did with SheiKra at Busch Gardens. Although rumour was they never used the safety harnesses .... but I really can't believe that. I would have done that for sure, but the tickets sold so quickly, I blinked and missed them .. :( I won't miss it next time though !!
I think if I had a choice of what ride to 'walk/climb' it would have to be TTD at CP. What an awesome experience that would be looking around at the top.

September 20, 2018 at 1:12 PM

Way back in 1990, my family and I at Disneyland and had to be evacuated when Pirates broke down. Was interesting to have us backed up to a landing area in the cavern section and then walked around. I'm sure it would have been cooler in the town area but still notable.

I admit, a few attractions I would love to walk around like Spaceship Earth and other dark rides. Not sure of a roller coaster or paying for it but there are a few attractions at both Disney and Universal that would be worth exploring more besides just the ride.

September 20, 2018 at 3:51 PM

The ultimate walk-off would be on the Finding Nemo Submarines at Disneyland!

September 20, 2018 at 5:22 PM

You got me thinking now Robert...

Maybe this could also work as a part of a "Face your fears" package like some legacy airlines do to help people get over being afraid to fly. Show them how the coaster is safe, how it fails "safe", give em a ride, and then show them an evacuation.

September 20, 2018 at 6:17 PM

Chad, we need to be negotiating for a percentage of the cash that whatever park ultimately does this ends up making on this crazy idea.

September 20, 2018 at 6:26 PM

I've been evac'd from Escape from Gringotts, it was cool (and reassuring) to see the room where they wash the 3d glasses. Was also evac'd from Expedition GeForce by ladder at the break run - but the ride didn't run again after that.

I've walked up Arkham Asylum at Movie World and might give the DC Rivals walk a go when I'm there next month.

Not sure if I'd want a fully simulated evac lol. Hitting the anti-rollback on El Toro last year was an absolute spine snapper.

September 20, 2018 at 8:10 PM

Can you get a 2fer ticket for this and the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb?

September 20, 2018 at 8:20 PM

Yes, at this moment; Winnie the Pooh at Disneyland. My brother, myself and 3 year old nephew who had a complete melt down going into the ride building and he wasn't slowing down. About a third of the way in the ride stopped and a very nice attendant snuck up behind us and asked if we like to exit the ride. life saver. Oh the sympathetic looks we got from the other parents during our walk of shame.

September 20, 2018 at 9:32 PM

Evacuating guests at BTM was always fun because most of the areas you had to walk guests under the mountain. But guests really loved evacuating Mansion since they just walk along the ride path so we were always wrangling them off the sets but you felt glad you could give them an experience very few get to do.

September 21, 2018 at 7:25 AM

I worked at several attractions in WDW, including BTM. Never once heard it called "in show exit". It was an evac.

September 21, 2018 at 11:11 AM

No way. I got stuck high up on the lift hill of El Toro last weekend and would not have been able to cope with an evacuation b/c 1) I'm acrophobic; and 2) I find it extremely challenging to walk down steps, as that gives me vertigo. One of my fellow riders said "I'm not walking down!" and that was my sentiment exactly. Fortunately, the ride ops got the train moving so that an evacuation was unnecessary.

September 21, 2018 at 8:25 PM

Got stuck on Pirates of the Caribbean just as the boat catches on the slight incline at the exit. Had to wait about an hour at the end of the Mickeys not so Scary Halloween party for the fire department to come help get us out of the boat. LOVED walking back thru the ride past the last treasure room and seeing where boats are stored etc. Would also love to do the same at mansion.

September 24, 2018 at 1:02 PM

Have ALWAYS wanted to walk favorite attractions like HAUNTED, PIRATES, THUNDER, etc., but have no desire to pay to rappel a giant steel coaster. If I wanted to do that, I would have stayed in construction. ATTENTION DISNEY/UNIVERSAL: Potential upcharge opportunity! No desire to see SCREENS up close, but would love to check out ghosts, pirates, Dinos and aliens on foot...

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