4

Ultra Music Festival Fans Forced to Walk Across the Rickenbacker After Chaotic Exit

Ultra Music Festival Fans Forced to Walk Across the Rickenbacker After Chaotic Exit
Photo by Daniella Mía
^
Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Miami and help keep the future of New Times free.

With so many new factors going into this year's Ultra Music Festival, including a new location on Virginia Key, it's fair to say that both organizers and festivalgoers were anxious about the first day. Those fears were proven valid last night, when shuttle service off the island faltered, forcing a reported tens of thousands of fans to walk miles back to the mainland after a long day of partying.

Things seemed to hit a snag when Ultra wrapped up day one at 2 a.m. Photos and videos flooded Twitter, showing droves of fans trudging across the Rickenbacker Causeway looking tired and angry. Nearly all of the posts were hashtagged #FyreFestival or #FyreFest2, alluding to the epic failure of a music festival that stranded fans in the Bahamas in 2017.

Some blamed the lack of shuttles on a traffic accident. Others said that there were too few buses and that staff was shorthanded. Still others reported a tree on fire on festival grounds, which didn't appear to be related to the shuttle failure.

On Twitter, Ultra apologized to attendees for the transportation problems. "Last night, many of you experienced challenging transportation conditions leaving the festival. This is unacceptable and inconsistent with the high standards you have come to expect from us. For this, we are sorry." The festival says it is working with the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County to resolve the problem, promising "a significantly improved transportation experience" for the rest of the weekend.

Earlier in the afternoon, everything seemed to be running relatively smoothly. Before the 2 a.m. shuttle collapse, Ultra's biggest obstacle seemed to be getting 60,000 people to the Virginia Key site in an orderly but prompt fashion. The festival set up three pick-up spots: the Arsht Center Metromover station, the American Airlines Arena, and the Vizcaya Metrorail station. Vizcaya, perhaps due to its proximity to Virginia Key and festivalgoers assuming the ride would be quicker, seemed to be the most popular shuttle hub. Around 5 p.m., Ultra tweeted the wait time for a shuttle bus from Vizcaya was 60 minutes, while the wait time at the American Airlines Arena and the Arsht Center was five minutes.

Still, Ultranuats seemed to be in good spirits and exercised plenty of patience, with some even commending Ultra's logistical planning. "Wow it only took 30 minutes to get on an @ultra shuttle. EDC could never," tweeted one festivalgoer. "Hey @EDC_LasVegas take notes on ur shuttle situation from @ultra Night & day from ur nightmare, plus it’s free," another pointed out. (Las Vegas' Electric Daisy Carnival takes place far from the Vegas Strip — about 16 miles.)

Locals were at a clear advantage here, such as festivalgoer Yesenia Moreno, who told New Times this was her fourth time attending Ultra. Instead of paying for Ultra's garage parking, Moreno says she parked near the Publix on Biscayne Boulevard and NE 17th Street and walked to the nearby shuttle stop at the Arsht Center. However, she didn't have a favorable opinion of the new system. "The shuttle was shit. There were too many people trying to fit on one bus," Moreno said.

"@ultra you’re drivers DO NOT know where they are going. I just took a 45 minuet bus to key biscayne and the driver never dropped us off and drove us back to Miami to sit through traffic twice [sic]," another festivalgoer complained on Twitter.

Still, New Times was able to reach Virginia Key from the Arsht Center in about 30 minutes via shuttle. (New Times and other outlets covering Ultra were provided access to a media-only shuttle to the festival.)

The best way to get to the festival was via ferry, but that option was available only to VIP ticketholders and a limited number of general-admission guests who purchased a ferry pass for around $150.

Once at the festival, the expanded footprint of Ultra was noticeable. However, sound bleed was definitely an issue in the Miami Marine Stadium area, which is home to the Mainstage, the Live Arena, Ultra Worldwide, and UMF Radio. At Bayfront Park, the rolling hills helped mitigate that problem even though the stages were closer together.

Then there's the distance between the Marine Stadium site and what Ultra is calling Resistance Island, which is, in fact, Historic Virginia Key Beach Park. It was about a 20-minute walk via the walkway, which took festivalgoers in front of MAST Academy and down the road to Virginia Key Beach Park. Walking all the way to the Carl Cox Megastructure at the end of the park added an additional ten minutes. Here's hoping Ultranauts wore their Fitbits and got their steps in. Though many festivalgoers tend to pick a stage and hang out there for a while, the long distance definitely killed the feeling that you could walk from stage-to-stage exploring the sounds before deciding which one to choose.

The rocky end to the first day of Ultra isn't a good look for the festival. If Ultra wants to appease fans and silence critics who fought the move to Virginia Key, it needs to figure out its exit strategy before the end of today.

Additional reporting by Cristina Jerome, Zach Schlein, and Ciara LaVelle.

Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.