If your knees get shaky and your palms sweat every time you get near Orlando and catch a glimpse of a roller coaster from I-4, avoid this story like the express line to Space Mountain. Because a dozen visitors at Universal Orlando spent three hours yesterday living the ride-phobe's worst nightmare.
Twelve people were trapped for three hours near the top of a coaster called Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit before firefighters finally lowered them to the ground around 10 p.m.
The ride, which opened in 2008, is 167 feet tall and pushes passengers up to 70 mph as they slalom over the tracks for nearly two minutes.
Around 6:45 p.m. yesterday, something went wrong. When the cars reached the top of a hill, a safety mechanism engaged and locked the ride in place.
For the dozen people aboard, that meant getting stuck in a "vertical position" until firefighters could find a truck with a ladder tall enough to reach them. The video is dark, but you can get a sense of what they dealt with in this report:
Safety crews are perusing the coaster today to try to figure out what caused the malfunction. "We're not going to reopen the ride until we know what happened, and we're sure it won't happen again," Universal Orlando spokesman Tom Schroder told the Orlando Sentinel this morning.
As for the passengers, none was seriously injured in the ordeal, though a few new cases of extreme coaster phobia were likely born hanging 150 feet in the air for three hours.
Here's a first-person view of the coaster in action -- the car was trapped near the highest point of the ride: