Doug / 10-10-2013 / Consumer Safety

Universal’s Rip Ride Rockit: What Happened?

If you caught the morning news today, you probably saw a short video and reference to Universal Orlando’s Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster.  Last night 12 passengers on the coaster were stuck for more than two hours near the top of the coaster’s first climb.  Today, we’d like to discuss what happened.

According to Universal spokes people, a glitch in the ride’s computer forced the ride to safety mode and stop.  This is exactly what should have happened, and while the cause and extent of the glitch is yet to be determined, the system stopping is a good safety measure to have in place.

Unfortunately for the passengers, this meant they were stuck at a nearly vertical angle and just out of reach of a platform and ladder that could have lead them to safety.  Leaving the cars at this time would have been difficult, and dangerous, even for those passengers at the front of the first car, that were within mere inches of the evacuation stairs.

The problem becomes two-fold.  One, the passengers were basically laying down.  In order to reach the stairs they would have had to release their safety harnesses, right themselves, and then climb out of the car and onto the stairs.  This would have been extremely dangerous at the 150 foot height at which they were stuck.

The second issue to contend with is that, since it was a computer glitch that caused the ride to stop, there was no immediate guarantee that the same glitch, or another wouldn’t start the ride back up again.  If this had happened, and had any passenger released their harness, they could have been thrown out of the car.

Fortunately none of the passengers were foolhardy enough to attempt removing themselves from the ride.  They remained seated – or laying down – and allowed Universal staff and Orlando Fire and Rescue to come to their aid.

Both teams assessed the situation and did their utmost to ensure the comfort of the passengers.  At the nearly two hour mark, the teams were able to move the cars to the top of the climb and even with the evacuation platforms and stairs.  Still, however, they had the passengers remain seated and secured to the ride while teams assessed their well being, and continued to work on the ride to ensure it wouldn’t inadvertently start.

Eventually, and to the assured delight of the park guests, they were extracted from the roller coaster and helped down the stairways to complete safety.  As of this writing, we are not aware of any injuries or harm, other than stress and an uncomfortable wait, of any of the passengers.

The Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit is a roller coaster that has been plagued with malfunction and issues in its time at Universal Studios Orlando.  Its planned open date was missed by several months due to unstated construction issues.  It has also been closed multiple time due to injuries and technical errors, the most recent of which was in August of this year.

Park officials have closed the ride, and are beginning their investigation into the cause of the glitch.  Park guests can be assured that the ride will remain closed until those officials are sure that any issues have been addressed and that the ride is both fully functional and safe for riders when it does again, reopen.

If you or a loved one has been injured while attending any of the Theme Parks in or around Central Florida, please contact us and let us know about your case.  We would be happy to review your options with you.

Wooten Kimbrough, P.A.  Florida Theme Park Injury Attorneys

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