Universal's Rip Ride Rockit reopens after stuck riders freed from roller coaster



ORLANDO, Fla. - Universal Studios Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster reopened Thursday after 12 riders were freed from the stuck coaster Wednesday night.

According to theme park officials, a glitch forced computers to go into safety mode, which stopped the ride in its tracks. The passengers, including three children, were stuck.

"Being in that position, not knowing why you're in that position, you're going to be a little upset, but our guys were able to talk to them and calm them down," said District Chief Ian Davis of the Orlando Fire Department.

Getting the riders down took more than two hours, Orlando Fire Rescue officials said, because Universal engineers had to get the cars in a safe, locked position.

"Then, our guys can put the victims in the harnesses and we're able to walk them off the ride," said Davis.

Weather created another problem for the trapped riders.

"Tonight's kind of our first cold snap and when you're up that high, it's a little cooler, so Universal was able to provide them with towels so they could cover up," said Davis.

One of the passengers was transported to the hospital after complaining of neck pain.

Channel 9's Julie Salomone spoke to Universal to find out why the ride was running again so soon, and officials told her their team worked through the night to find the problem and fix it, but they wouldn't go into specifics about the issue.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said the law exempts theme parks from all inspection and reporting any issues with rides, but the parks voluntarily reports injuries following a ride that requires a 24-hour hospital stay.

Parkgoer Deborah Young said she isn't a fan of roller coasters and after Wednesday's incident, she won't be convinced to go on any coasters anytime soon.

"It's very scary, scary enough to go on there, but then to have something like that happen, that could ruin you for life going on any roller coasters," said Davis.

The roller coaster has had a history trouble starting not long after it first opened in August 2009. The ride was then shut down a year later for about a month.

The park said it was closed for maintenance, but the closure came just weeks after the coaster's manufacturer warned of a flaw with a part that's used to keep riders inside the cars.

More recently, officials said something happened on the ride Aug. 1 that required them to stop it. One guest received a minor injury as the vehicle was stopped, said the official.

The official said she was treated and released back into the park.