This Is Not How You Want Your Theme Park Visit to Go

Dozens were stuck upside down on AtmosFEAR ride at Oaks Park in Oregon
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 15, 2024 6:30 AM CDT
This Is Not How You Want Your Theme Park Visit to Go
First responders arrive at Oaks Park for a ride that's stuck with multiple riders in Portland, Oregon, on Friday.   (Courtesy of Oregon Amusement Ride-Rescue via AP)

Emergency crews in Oregon rescued 28 people Friday after they were stuck for about a half-hour dangling upside down high on a ride at a century-old amusement park. Portland Fire and Rescue said on the social platform X that firefighters worked with engineers at Oaks Park to manually lower the ride, but crews had been preparing to conduct a high-angle ropes rescue if necessary, per the AP. All riders were being evacuated and medically evaluated, and there were no reports of injuries. One rider with a preexisting medical condition was taken to a hospital for further evaluation as a precaution, Oaks Amusement Park said in a statement posted on social media. Medics released all other passengers.

The ride, called AtmosFEAR, operates like a pendulum, with the capacity to swing riders completely upside down. Chris Ryan and his wife, from nearby Gresham, were at the park for his birthday. He told the AP in a Facebook message that they'd just been planning to ride AtmosFEAR when they saw it was stuck and heard people saying, "Oh my God, they are upside down." They decided to walk away because of "how scary the situation was," he said. They eventually got on the Ferris wheel and heard a loudspeaker announcement that the park was closed and that people should evacuate. When the ride stopped, park staff immediately called 911, and emergency responders arrived about 25 minutes later, the park statement said. Park maintenance workers were able to return the ride to its unloading position minutes after first responders arrived.

Portland Fire said about 30 people were on the ride; the amusement park statement said there were 28 riders. The ride has been in operation since 2021 and hasn't had any prior incidents, the park said. It will remain closed until further notice. The park said it would work with the ride's manufacturer and state inspectors to determine the cause of the stoppage. "We wish to express our deepest appreciation to the first responders and our staff for taking prompt action, leading to a positive outcome today, and to the rest of the park guests who swiftly followed directions to vacate the park to make way for the emergency responders to attend to the situation," it said. Oaks Park first opened in 1905. Its website says it offers a "uniquely Portland blend of modern thrills and turn-of-the-century charm on a midway that has delighted generations of Northwesterners."

(More amusement parks stories.)

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