Passengers on stuck Rainbow's End rollercoaster describe terror

  • 05/01/2015

Passengers on board a rollercoaster at Auckland's Rainbow's End have described their terror as the ride stopped.

The group were trapped at the highest point of the corkscrew ride, some 30 metres up.

Theme park rides are meant to be thrilling, but passengers got much more than that.

"The wind started and everything started shaking and wobbling, and we've come from earthquake city so shaking's not a cool thing," says Jo Smith.

A Christchurch family of nine were all on the ride when it stopped mid-air.

"Lots of hot, cold sweats – it was terrifying and I was up near the front and my son was at the last cart," says Dee Pilcher. "He was screaming out but I couldn't get to him because I was locked in."

The rollercoaster was full when it stopped and passengers say they were stuck for about 20 minutes.

"It felt like ages," says Ms Pilcher. "It felt like they didn't come for ages."

A Rainbow's End staff member climbed up to tell passengers there was a problem with the rollercoaster, as other customers watched from below.

"I told my brother, 'Look, there's a rollercoaster stuck,' and he was like, 'oh my gosh'," says spectator Harry. "There was no screaming or shouting; everyone was just calm."

"When a kid came down he said it was really scary because he was on the tipped bit," says another young spectator.

But those on board knew it could have been much worse.

"If we were anything more than 10 metres further, a power cut would have been horrifying because we would have been upside down," says Ms Smith.

Passengers say they were told the problem was a power cut, but Rainbow's End chief executive Chris Deere says the engine overheated so the ride was stopped as a precaution. 

"It's not a safety issue as such; it's more an overheating of the motor, so it's just a fault determining if the temp is running a bit high, and that's exactly what it's designed to do," says Mr Deere.

Mr Deere couldn't say whether this type of incident had happened before, but said it was "very uncommon for the ride to stop".

Rainbow's End has closed the ride and says it will remain shut until its engineers can figure out what caused the fault and were satisfied it was safe to reopen. But the family say they won't be lining up for tickets when it's going again.

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source: newshub archive