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Space Mountain breakdown!

By Roland Young

Now, let me also share a unusual situation from my recent visit to DLP's SpaceMountain:

When standing in the waiting corridors inside SpaceMountain you will encounter some monitors which show a short movie that gets you in the right mood for the ride. it also gives some safety instruction. The waiting area generally is rather dim as you do have the option to look into Space from some windows.

Now, this is the standard setup, and I think the preshow of StarTours or even at Captain EO is somehow more appropriate than this. However, I was standing in line right at the top of the stairs that lead down to the platforms where the trains are "loaded". Suddenly all the ambient sound, the soundtrack of the movie ceased and all the lights inside the corridors and the platforms changed to full brightness. In the first moment, everyone around me and myself regarded this as a special, albeit disturbingly strange, special effect. Well, it wasn't. A french announcement came on the speakers, that simply stated something like "SpaceMountain currently is not really operating anymore". Silence.

Looking down the platform we saw that there were no trains arriving anymore. Obviously the whole universe had come to a hold...

Surprisingly, the cast members on the platform did not show any sign of emergency procedures except that they started to have several chats... In the control cabin there was some sort of busy discussion, and two additional CM came in from outside. 10minutes passed, still no movement execept for the people in the control room. Then came a short english message that repeated its minimalistic french predecessor. Then suddenly a empty train arrived at the platform. The CMs on the platform closed all security restraints of the still empty train. Then some sound could be heard over and over again, as if some sort of ratchet or electric drill engine was operated multiple times. I managed to get a closer look on the things going on down there: it seemed that ONE of the safety restraint failed to stay in the closed position, swinging open multiple time. As the CMs pulled it down again the strange sound was emitted from the restraint. People in the control room then gave a sign to the CMs to leave it alone. In this moment, the restraint did lock in its correct position. Still, the train was pulled out of the station backwards, as the train's depot is located before the platform. Then some switching of tracks could be heard, and another train was brought to the platform from the depot. It had the same problem with a different safety restraint and was pulled back, too.

Please note that we were now at about minute 40 of the breakdown and still there were trains with people inside space mountain! Finally they managed to get two fully operational trains and "launched" them. Then the first train came in that had people aboard. Although that train had been inside SpaceMountain for about 50minutes it stopped at the platform with the perfectly synchronised last chords from the SpaceMountain tune: ta ta ta tamm! Now, you might ask, what did they do to apologize to the people inside the trapped trains?

Well, each and every passenger inside the train was asked whether he would still like to ride a second time without the need to reboard!

Everyone wanted! So they inserted empty trains after each of the trapped ones, so the waiting people could board and ride SpaceMountain as well. Ah yes, there was a cheerful bilingual message that announced that the Columbiad was operating again. Now imagine that all people in whole waiting line were cheering at that very moment - that's what happened! The whole SpaceMountain celebrated the good news and this must have been heard even on the moon ;-)

Then the lights dimmed, the sound came up and no one could see what just had happened!

I did ask to a CM on the platform what had happened: He told me that each train does perform a safety check when coming from the depot. So they knew that the train had a problem before it arrived at the platform. Therefore SpaceMountain had to be stopped, as the broken train now was at the platform.

Sometimes the train comes back to life by simply closing the restraints. This time it did not work, and the second train had the same problem. As there was no immanent danger for the people inside SpaceMountain they were not evacuated. Still i wonder what you do nearly one hour inside SpaceMountain when the train is not moving ...

And there is another thing I learned: unless you really sit in the train better regard it as unsafe ;-) ...Inside the train your perfectly safe - even for hours!

Still, I enjoy riding SpaceMountain more than waiting there ...

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