Rethinking next thrill-ride after Six Flags roller coaster rescue?

WASHINGTON — Does last week’s roller coaster breakdown at Six Flags America have you reconsidering your amusement park thrill ride plans?

Amusement park expert Pete Trabucco says to ride in confidence.

“No one wants to ride something that’s going to kill them, even though there’s the illusion that’s going to happen,” he said. “Even those wooden roller coasters that you see that go clickity-clank, that’s on purpose because they want to get you on the ride and make you feel like you are defying death, when, in fact, they are very safe.”

Trabucco said the odds of dying at an amusement park were about 70 million to one.

“You have a better chance of getting into a fatality just driving to the park than you do in the amusement park itself,” he said.

In the specific case of The Joker’s Jinx, the coaster that stranded riders for hours last week, Trabucco said it’s a very advanced ride.

“It was the first linear induction motor type of launch system, in which it uses magnets to speed up and slow down the ride itself. It’s very, highly technical,” he said. “Believe it or not, when this ride first came out, NASA came down to see it because they wanted to use some of the technology from this ride in their own space program. This is a very high tech ride and way before its time.”

So why did it stop and strand 24 riders for five hours?

“In this particular case, a ride like that with linear induction motors is a very complex system, and when things are not running properly it automatically shuts down, which is like a fail-safe system. In this particular case, it looks like it shut down with the riders on the top level. They were stranded, of course, but never in any danger,” he said.

This is the second time the ride has broken down in the past couple years.

While Trabucco said the ride is a great one, he also said it was getting older. “I would venture to guess in several years from now this ride will be obsolete and will probably be replaced by a newer ride and a newer technology,” he said.

Michelle Murillo

Michelle Murillo has been a part of the WTOP family since 2014. She started her career in Central Florida before working in radio in New York City and Philadelphia.

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