Reasons Amusement Park Rides Aren’t Running

Is It Broken!

If you have visited an amusement park. It is likely that you have been disappointed that one of your favorite rides wasn’t running on the day of your visit.

There is nothing more annoying than waiting in line just to have a ride stop working.  It is possible that you have been on a ride when it temporarily stopped working.  Although rare, you may have actually been evacuated off a ride!

When a ride isn’t running, people in the industry say that the ride is “down.”  There are many feelings that you might feel when a ride is down.  You might feel anger and frustration that the ride isn’t running, especially if it is one of your favorites or if you have waited in line to ride.  You could feel fear, also.

If the ride isn’t running, you might believe that it is broken or that it may harm you.  The opposite is actually true.  Rides shut down in order to keep riders safe and comfortable.  The following are common reasons why your favorite ride may stop in its tracks.

Another guest got sick.

Every ride has the potential to set a rider over the edge.  Some people can’t keep their lunch down on spinning rides or rides that switch directions quickly, while others can’t deal with ups and downs.

Guest illness is a very common reason to shut a ride down.  In this case rapid action is needed, a quick cleanup is all that needs to happen and the ride opens when everything is cleaned and disinfected.

The weather isn’t looking good.

Most parks have some type of protocol for when poor weather conditions are approaching the area.  Very tall rides can shut down on a beautiful sunny day if the wind exceeds a certain speed.

Gentle rain will shut down rides that have a sensitive braking system, especially if the ride uses a tire to slow it down.  (Rain causes the tire to slip.)  If thunderstorms are headed towards the park, it is likely that a park representative (or five!) are watching weather radar.

In fact, someone is probably out physically watching the storm come in and monitoring the distance of lightning strikes.

Tall rides are essentially lightning rods and will shut down first.  Water attractions are also some of the first to shut down.  As the storm approaches other rides may close temporarily.

As soon as the lightning is a certain distance away rides will start to reopen.  Depending on park policy, certain rides will take longer to reopen.

For example, a roller coaster that travels through a wooded area will need to have its track area thoroughly checked to make sure no debris fell on the track that could interfere with the ride.

There aren’t enough people to operate the ride.

Unfortunately, there are days when there just aren’t enough people to fill every position needed to operate every ride safely.  This situation is very embarrassing and undesirable for park management.

In these situations, management usually does everything in its power to get all rides open.  It may involve calling people into work, putting supervisors and managers in position running rides and moving people to locations they don’t typically work at.

Most likely was that a ride that is shut down due to personnel problems and will reopen at some point.,  Right after people are properly trained to work at it.


Long-term maintenance work needed.

Sometimes a ride will be down because of a long term maintenance project.  A wooden coaster might have sections of track that need to be redone in order to make the ride more comfortable for guests.

A ride might need a part replaced that is hard to find.  Some issues are just difficult to fix.  Keep in mind, though, that the maintenance department is fixing a problem in order to keep everyone safe.

The problem was likely found during routine maintenance checks done by inspectors. This occur every morning and every evening prior to putting guests on the ride.

Something tripped a sensor somewhere.

It is actually quite common for a roller coaster to stop due to a bird or bug flying across a sensor.  Roller coasters run on the simple concept of gravity. But they are actually very complex rides that are likely being run by a computer.

Throughout the ride there are sensors that are meant to detect movement.  If improper movement is detected while a train is on the track.

The ride is programmed to stop in order to prevent a crash.

 Since a roller coaster runs on gravity, the train will stop either on the lift chain or in a section of brakes.  All coasters have at least one set of brakes coming into the station and some also have a set of brakes out on the track.

A bird flying too close to a sensor or a bug crawling across a sensor can shut the ride down, resulting in the trains stopping in the next section of brakes or on the lift.

Something just doesn’t feel right to the ride operator.

Parks have different ways of organizing who runs their rides.  Some parks train everyone on every ride.  Other parks hire operators to run a specific ride or set of rides.

If the operator hears a strange noise or notices something they feel is unusual going on with the ride, they can shut it down until maintenance personnel check it out.

The ride detected a problem.

Many rides have operating systems that are very smart, especially newer rides.

When some potential problems are detected the systems are programmed to shut the ride down. Trying to avoid a situation that could put riders at great risk.

These errors are often the ones that end in the evacuation of a ride, and are some of the most frustrating, especially if you are on the ride. Although scary, riders are completely safe thanks to the operating system that detected the potential problem.

Sometimes a member of maintenance can override the issue and bring the ride back to the home position, but evacuations do occasionally occur.

Keep these things in mind when you see a ride that isn’t operating during your visit to the amusement park.  In a perfect world, every ride would run all the time.

However, in order to keep riders safe and comfortable that isn’t always the case.  Relax and rest assured that you are perfectly safe!


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