Riding Attractions When They Break Down

Light Meter by Lisa K. Berton

A few months ago, I was at Sea World San Antonio with my friend and her family. Her husband, three year old daughter, and I climbed into a swinging fish with bench seating. It moved like it was modeled after a skateboarder on a half pipe. Well, a few seconds into the ride, we stopped short. I turned around to see a somewhat panicking young employee. She did the right thing and phoned for help and came over and told us to sit tight. But in that moment I announced something to the effect of, “This is Lila’s first broken ride! Hooray!” You gotta start sometime.

During a trip to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom with my parents and brother in the 80’s we filled a car on the PeopleMover. This is one of my mom’s favorite attractions. Just before our car was pulled into the building that now houses Stitch’s Great (meh) Escape, the ride stopped. Okay, no big deal. One thinks they must have stopped to let someone on who is in a wheelchair or having trouble with the moving sidewalk. As it turned out, that wasn’t why we stopped. The PeopleMover broke down. Eventually, a Cast Member came over and helped us and others out of our cars and walked us along the track and into the building. There’s a staircase once inside and we took that down to street level. It was quite an adventure, walking high above Tomorrowland. I’m not even sure there were railings on both sides of the track back then. I remember joking that we should buy T-shirts that said, I survived the PeopleMover.

I’ve asked folks to submit their memories of being stuck and or walked off an attraction. Feel free to write in about your own experience using the Comment form below.

Rita Joy Egan of New York – It was 1974 and my parents and I were on it’s a small world. The boats stopped, but the figurines kept moving and the music kept going and going. My mother said it felt like a half an hour! Whenever the ride gets a bit backed up, I have flashbacks to that day when both my parents desperately needed a drink coming off that ride.

Lisa Lasater of California – The Sailing Ship Columbia broke down at the dock on Tuesday, July 8th, when we were on the Mark Twain Riverboat. We sat in one spot for at least 20 mins. When we finally got to the dock, they handed out re-admittance passes good for any ride except Star Tours. It was nice that they just automatically did that instead of waiting for complaints.

Pooh of Hundred Acre Woods – Every day I get stuck in hunny. RideBreakdown-Poohstuck.jpg

Cindy Hershey of Kentucky – In October 2010, we were on Splash Mountain and it stopped. Unfortnately it stopped right after the curve following the big drop. We had two nice showers courtesy of the splash from the next two boats that came down the drop.

We were also on Peter Pan during the same trip and it stopped as we were “flying” over the town. I whipped the camera out and took a few photos in the dark. It’s interesting to see the ride from the camera’s point of view.

Kelsi Bruno from Nebraska – The last time we visited Walt Disney World and rode Splash Mountain, it stopped just as we got to the big drop. We sat there for over half an hour listening to Brer Rabbit saying “Please don’t throw me in that briar patch!” We did get to see the back of Splash Mountain were given FastPasses. We went again that evening and got to see the lights as we (finally!) went over the edge.

Jennifer Charier from Kentucky – I remember when I was younger and rode the old version of Imagination (Journey into Imagination). The ride broke down about half way through. It was a long ride as it was, but we ended up having to walk through the rest of the ride. It was pretty interesting. I wish they would have kept that version of Imagination with the Dream Maker.

Lori Jacobs Netti of Indiana – New Year’s Eve a few years ago, I got stuck on Pirates of the Caribbean by the donkey and the singing pirates. I had “A Pirate’s Life for Me” stuck in my head for a loooooong time!

Sarah A. Inkin of New York – I was in Epcot in December of 2006 when all of Future World was shut down due to power issues. We were evacuated from Ellen’s Energy Adventure. When things came back up, I was lucky enough to be the first one on Mission Space.

Back to me! My cousin Matthew and I found ourselves stopped on Splash Mountain as well. Just like Cindy Hershey, our log halted after making the “u-turn” following the long descent. As boat after boat came down the chute, a tidal wave of water crashed into us. I was wearing a poncho but Matt was too cool. :insert evil laugh here:

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34 Replies to “Riding Attractions When They Break Down”

  1. We’ve had to walk off Big Thunder Mountain Railroad twice. It stalled on us the first time just before we pulled into the station, but the second time, we were going up the hill in the mine section. We waited for a bit, then a Cast Member came to escort us off the ride. We got a nice long tour of the underside of the mountain, of course, NO PICTURES PLEASE, but it was neat to see what it looked like under there. We received FastPasses both times for our trouble.

    The absolute worst was on the Great Movie Ride. We got stuck in the Tarzan part and had to listen to him yodel back and forth for 15 minutes before the ride started again…that was a LONG 15 minutes.

  2. I once got stuck at the top of Spaceship Earth with my family. It may not have been too long (I was pretty young), but to me it felt like forever! When you also have the knowledge that you’re at the top level of that giant golf ball you’ve been seeing, that can make a person a little apprehensive. Needless to say that whenever I pass that scene I’m not listening to Judi Dench anymore. I’m just praying “please don’t stop please don’t stop please don’t stop…”

  3. Several years ago we were riding Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin when the cars stopped moving along the track for several minutes. However, the cars would still spin, the lasers continued to work, and Zurg’s robot targets were still responding. We kept shooting and I racked up my highest score ever!

  4. We were ten people from boarding on Test Track when the ride broke down. We were given passes to return to the front of the line. We had to present these passes in the store accompanying Test Track. We were unable to return to Test Track during that trip. I saved the passes and we used them two years later. The Cast Members were unfamiliar with the passes but ushered to the front of the line anyway.

  5. One time while riding on the Carousel of Progress,the song started playing after the last scene, but the theater wasn’t moving. We ended up watching that scene again, except the audio was messed up. Everybody was a bit confused….

  6. I was on a Tower of Terror elevator car that got stuck right as we were moving forward from the “rise” shaft into the dimension hallway. The figures on both sides continously lit up and powered down. We sat there through a few cycles until a Cast Member came out of a door in the wall. There are so many mirrors in that hallway that at first we couldn’t tell which wall he came out of–he was perfectly reflected on all sides! I never realized before that there are far fewer actual figures than there seems to be, and the rest are just reflections. He helped us out of the elevator one by one and we took the normal elevator back down, where we received some nice FastPasses. It was an interesting experience.

    Another trip, I was taking a late-night ride on Pirates of the Caribbean when the sound suddenly went out. We rode along in silence (except for the creaking of the figures) until the last room. When we disembarked, a Cast Member was there handing out FastPasses and asking about what happened.

    CM: “Would you be able to tell me exactly where the problem occurred?” Group in front of me: “Yes, it was the part with the pirates!” To the CM’s credit, he kept a straight face and thanked them warmly. (But looked a bit relieved when I was able to detail that it was from the dunked mayor to the last room’s pirate band.)

  7. On our trip in March 2009, we got stuck in the Haunted Mansion on the decent into the graveyard. On the same day, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad broke down during the last 15 minutes of Extra Magic Hours and we missed Splash Mountain. My son didn’t mind and thought that it was cool to be escorted into the mountain while singing “Heigh Ho”. His opinion changed the next day when he got stuck on Mission Space with his father and clostrophobic people that had never ridden it before. I dodged that bullet because I had gone to get FastPasses for Soarin. Mission Space used to be his favorite ride and now he won’t enter the building.

  8. On my first trip to Disney when I was 10, we rode Dinosaur. As we reached the Carnotaur that roars in your face where the picture is taken, the ride broke down. We spent what seemed like forever stuck on the ride, with the Carnotaur roaring loudly and the lights flashing every few minutes. I couldn’t stop crying, and to this day whenever I ride Dinosaur I find it absolutely terrifying. I can ride any thrill ride a million times, but something about that part of the ride is still the scariest memory of my childhood. The lights never turned back on, I think the ride started back up maybe ten minutes later.

    Also, last the summer, my best friend and I got stuck in the graveyard in the Haunted Mansion for ten minutes or so, right in front of the head that pops out from behind the tombstone. I thought it was hilarious, but my friend was really spooked by it and refused to go back on the ride with me. We still had a lot of fun that day though =)

  9. My husband and I got stuck on the Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios a couple years ago. The ride stopped right before we got into the area to be dropped. For a moment we thought it was just a pause before the drop. After a few more minutes, a Cast Member came out, closed the small sliding door and sent us on our way. When the ride was over, a Cast Member was waiting for us and took any of us that wanted to go again right back onto the ride, skipping the line. As nervous as I was to be stopped at the top, I quickly agreed to go again!

  10. I can honestly say I have not been stuck on a ride at Walt Disney World any of the times that I have been there. I guess the closest would be a very short wait (thankfully) on it’s a small world at the end for other boats to unload. I believe that everyone should ride this ride at least once during their trip, because it is a classic, but I could not imagine being stuck on that ride and hearing that song over and over.

    Lisa responds: Now that you’ve cursed yourself 😉 let us know where you get stuck.

  11. This didn’t happened to me, but I still thought it was pretty scary. When I was young and my family went to Disneyland for the first time we saw the Skyway Gondola break down. It was a hot day and they were up there for hours. I really wondered how they would get them off that one.

  12. In September of 2002, my husband and then 8-year old daughter went for a ride on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. My youngest daughter (5 at the time) and I waited at the exit for them, for what seemed like an unusually long amount of time. When they finally exited the ride we found out it was because the ride had stopped. The train had quit running while going through the last big part of the mountain and after about 15 minutes, Cast Members informed the riders that they would have to exit the ride and walk out on foot. My daughter thought this was a great thing, as they were able to walk through a rock (which was really a hidden door) and see the inner workings of the mountain. It was definately a lasting memory that she still talks about and an expierence that few have the chance to encounter.

  13. We never had this happen in Walt Disney World but our last trip to Disneyland it happened a lot. Alice in Wonderland broke down as we were about to get on. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride broke down in the middle and we were escorted out and Pinocchio’s Daring Journey broke down as we were in the last room. After that we headed out of Fantasyland thinking our luck would be better. Through out the day there were other rides closed for periods of time. But by the end of the day we were able to ride everything we wanted so we had a great time. Does this happen a lot in Disneyland or did we just hit a “Bad Day?”

    Lisa responds: Things like that can happen in any park. Having been to Disneyland literally hundreds of times, I’d say it was a rare occurence and it’s possible the same Guests caused malfunctions – I’ve seen that happen.

  14. My mom and I got stopped, not really stuck, on Spaceship Earth. We were stopped at the Sistine Chapel scene so we spent a few minutes watching Michelangelo painting the ceiling with the lovely Alleluiah singing in the background. It was a neat thing to stop and see since I’ve seen the real Sistine Chapel in Rome!

  15. During a trip I took with my two boys, we got on the Dinosaur ride in Disney’s Animal Kingdom and about half way through the ride it slowed then stopped. For a couple of minutes we were in complete darkness with the soundtrack of the dinosaurs roaring in the background. There was another family on the ride with us that had a small girl and I remember her mom asking her if she was scared and she replied why would I be scared this is part of the ride, right? Everybody laughed. I must admit that I was a little scared myself because the roars were very loud and it was completely dark. We were in a part of the ride that did not have a scene so there was nothing around us but walls and an eery exit sign that only had the “it” part lit.

  16. Note from Lisa:

    Please, please, please make sure that when you respond that you follow the instructions on the Post a Comment form. Otherwise your responses end up in the junk folder with spam and can be deleted.


  17. My son was alone for a while in Disney’s Animal Kingdom and rode one of our favorite rides, Dinosaur. It broke down and the lights came on. He was thrilled. He kept telling the family in the car with him how lucky they were to be able to see this dark ride with the lights on! They probably didn’t enjoy it as much as he did though! I am really jealous that I missed that!

    My worst experience was on Test Track. The car kept stopping short and the seatbelt kept locking up. That really hurt!

  18. We also got stuck on Splash Mountain in 2010. My sister & I were in a log near the drop (but before the “Please don’t throw me in the briar patch!” scene, my favorite part that I quote all too often) for what seemed ages, but was probably only 15 minutes or so.

  19. In January 2009 my husband and I were enjoying our last night of our trip at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and had decided to take one last run on Expedition Everest. When we got to the point where you see the silhouette of the Yeti ripping up the tracks and start moving forward again…the train didn’t go! We were stuck at the highest point of the ride! The woman behind us began panicing, it was her first roller coaster ride, ever. After about 5 minutes a few Cast Members appeared through a hidden door in the wall of the cavern and explained that our train had failed to reply to the timed “ping” the computer sends and the safety system had locked the train in place until it was unloaded.

    They helped everyone out and told us that we would be walking down through the mountain and that NO photography was allowed from that point on. We walked down 17 short flights of stairs, past many areas labeled “Drop Zones” and through some corridors before emerging from the mountain along the track by the station where we received applause from the other waiting passengers. It was our own mountain rescue! We were given FastPasses for our trouble but decided to keep them as souvenirs. They’re in a special spot right by the incredible photo I got of the inside of the cavern before we were “saved”.

  20. We got stuck on Test Track for 5 minutes. We stopped just as we were going on the speedy bit at the end. We stayed on and eventually it started going again. We were just thankful that we didnt break down in the hot or cold room .

  21. A few years back, the Great Movie Ride broke down at the Indiana Jones scene and we got to walk the rest of the track. The Cast Member guiding us was very cool and let us stop to take close-up pictures of the various scenes. It felt like we were getting our own personal walking tour of the attraction.

  22. I went to the Magic Kingdom on a rough day last year. I had a great day, but the park was kind of struggling. First, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad stopped about 15 seconds before the end of the ride. Honestly, it was GREAT. We were under some shade, then we got to go inside the mountain to get out! I can testify that even the inside of Big Thunder Mountain ailroad is themed! Plus we got a FastPass for any ride in the park all day. Next, the Carousel of Progress got stuck…between scenes…four times. If it hadn’t been between scenes, I wouldn’t have minded at all, because I love the Carousel of Progress. But since you could hear two scenes at once, you couldn’t really understand either. But who am I to reject extra time in air conditioning? Plus, they gave us coupons for a free soda. Finally, we got stuck on Splash Mountain, which was also awesome. We circled through and got to ride again without waiting!

    So, in the end, I love it when rides break down.

  23. In December we took my brother and his girlfriend on it’s a small world which was our favorite ride We usually rode it 10 times a trip. It was our second time riding it that day, but their first time ever. We got stuck in the last “doll” area and had to listen to the song for over 20 minutes. Usually we sing right along, but it got so aggravating we didn’t want to hear it again. We never went back to that ride the whole rest of our 9 days there, it gave us nightmares. My kids finally broke down and went on it in May this year, but only once. We did get backed up a bit in the end with all the “Goodbyes”, but totally nothing like the last time.

  24. It was our trip in 2007 and our first time to experience Expedition Everest. We were so excited. My husband, 9 year old daughter, and I got on and started riding. As soon as we got to the highest point where you can see the whole park and right before you plunge in the dark tunnel, the ride stops. Eventually, 2 people came out of a cave “door” and opened our harnesses manually, and while telling us not to take pctures, led us into the cave “door” and inside the mountain. WOW! They lead us down a series of steps until we got out and gave us FastPasses to ride as soon as the ride was functioning again, which we did and loved it!! It’s still one of our favorites rides and we’ll never forget that experience. By the way, at no time did I feel we were in danger, Disney Cast Members were great!

  25. Several years ago, my mom, daughter, and I got stuck on it’s a small world for 45 minutes. The boat didn’t move, part of the lights were off and none of the figures moved but the music kept playing. Wow! I love the music and the ride but a few more minutes and I would have jumped out of the boat. At the same time, my sister and her family were stuck on Pirates of the Caribbean. It was a wild storm that night.

  26. This past February I dragged my husband on it’s a small world just so we could have 10 minutes or so of a heated building (it was cold out!). He HATES this ride. When it broke down in the ‘Goodbye’ room, with the exit so close, I thought his head was going to explode! I couldn’t stop laughing at the chances! People were escaping their boats to get away from the music. Eventually someone shouted for them to cut the music off and they did! 15 minutes later the Cast Members got into rubber pants and pushed our boats against the wall and helped us out. We went up a back staircase and got free FastPasses.

  27. I was riding Snow White’s Scary Adventures in the Magic Kingdom about a year ago when it broke down during the forest scene. It was pretty cool because they had the lights on and you could see how much atmosphere comes from a black light and some suspenseful music!

  28. I have two memories;

    First back in the 80’s my family got stuck in it’s a small world for 20 minutes. I still haven’t been back on that ride and yes, I am still singing it’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all. Now everyone sing along.

    Second, about 10 years ago, the family got stuck in Peter Pan’s Flight above the city. We were stoppd, I mean flying for 15 minutes.

    Ahhhhh, fun times. :o)

  29. I also got stuck on Splash Mountain once. I was by myself, my parents were waiting outside. My log was almost near the end (after the big drop) but we still had to sit & wait for someone to walk us off. Saw the inside/backstage of Splash Mountain that day. I have friends who once got stuck at the top of Spaceship Earth & had to be walked all the way down the steps. That must have been an interesting trip.

  30. A few years ago, I got stuck on Expedition Everest just as it finished the backward portion inside the mountain. I always enjoy riding in the front row and as the train had backed up into the incline, I could tell something was wrong. We weren’t up all the way as we should be – I could not see the Yeti’s shadow on the wall. Usually there’s a pause as the track switches but when that pause became longer and longer, the other riders started to figure it out too. After a few minutes (and a few announcements to stay put), Cast Members came up to escort us down. With the polite reminder that no pictures were allowed, we left in a long line down the stairs. The stairwells were mostly closed, like the ones you find in your office buildings, but occasionally, it would open up and you could see the tracks and inside of the mountain. Once on the ground level, we walked along the track past the Yeti and out to the exit station. We were given FastPasses for later which were handy when the line got long after it re-opened. Never been stuck on it since then but I always think about it when I ride. Seeing the inside was kinda neat! :o>

  31. Back in July of 2009, my parents, two of my best friends, their parents, and I decided to go on Splash Mountain. We got stuck just around the first curve outside right after Brer Rabbit’s garden. The bad part was me and my two friends decided to squeeze into the same back row together (only like a 10 min. ride how bad could it be, right?) Well we were literally stuck there for at least 30 minutes.!! The SpectroMagic parade had come and gone (we were right at the curve so we got to look down on Frontierland and see it) and we were still up there. After all the waiting we had to step out of our logs over the water and onto the side. Then we got to see all the animatronics moving but with no music. We got to walk down a huge set of stairs and see the backside of the mountain and we received a whole bunch of FastPasses for later that night. 🙂

  32. Years ago when I was working at Disneyland I heard about some fun the Cast Members were having when Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye broke down. They needed to go in and remove all the Guests from their vehicles. They took a cue from Indy himself and treated the situation like a rescue. Using props and pretending to dodge the ride’s effects, they had a lot of fun getting everyone out safely.

  33. Got stuck on Haunted Mansion years ago. After a few minutes, Cast Members showed up to escort folks off the ride. Seeing everything in the glare of light really took away that ghost effect for me for a long time.