Thursday, February 2, 2012

What?!?! My Favorite Ride is Closed?

What!! My Favorite Ride is Closed?!?


Winter time is ride closure time at Disney Parks. Yes, that happens. Every year Disney closes rides down at the parks for refurbishment. Right now at DLR the Matterhorn is down and will be until sometime in June. Other rides are taking a turn at being closed down as well. Disney makes every effort not to have more than one major attraction closed at a time. Sometimes they do have to schedule two. This year it will be at least two at a time.

Why do they close the rides down! Why can't they just check them and do repairs at night? Don't they know people come from all over the world and will be disappointed to miss out on the rides? Yes they understand people want to ride all the rides.

Disney wants to make sure the rides are safe and in show ready condition. They don't want scratched or broken things left for long. Part of what Disney does for safety is a safety check of each ride every night. All the coasters have a walk through inspection every night. Someone walks every coaster track every night checking for problems. Once a year the rides are taken down for a week or sometimes a few months for refurbishment.

In the case of some rides, like Haunted Mansion and Small World there are holiday overlays to deal with. Both of these rides are taken down for a couple of weeks before the holidays for the holiday overlays to be installed. They only take one down at a time so Haunted Mansion goes down first for the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay to be installed in late September. When it comes back up Small World goes down for the Small World Holiday overlay to be put in. When the holidays are over in early January Haunted Mansion is taken down to remove the overlay and do minor refurbishment. When it comes up toward the end of January Small World goes down for the removal of the holiday overlay and its annual refurbishment. It will usually come up sometime mid February.

The older the ride the longer the refurbishment takes. If there are changes to the ride, like an addition of a new element or effect the downtime of the ride can be longer. Disney wants to make sure the ride stays safe.

Matterhorn is going to be down for six months or more this year. This is much longer than usual for any normal refurbishment. The average refurbishment usually takes a couple of weeks to a month. A long refurbishment with additions or changes to the ride can take three months.

The reason for the long refurbishment time for the Matterhorn this year is twofold. The Matterhorn is over 50 years old. It takes a lot to keep the old gal looking good. On recent rides I could see light from the outside where I should not have. The display elements need to be freshened up. The Matterhorn has relied on the honor system seatbelt for safety from the start. All the people who have been badly injured or died on Matterhorn undid their seatbelts while the ride was in motion. Very few people have been injured on this ride and it's been a long times since anybody was hurt on Matterhorn but still I can guess the lawyers decided to put an end to the honor system. When the ride comes back up it will have new cars with locking seatbelts. New cars mean making sure each car works with the tracks. The addition of locking seatbelts will take time because they will need to make sure the electronic devices that keep the seatbelts locked work when and where it should. Then they will have to train the Cast Members on how to operate and maintain them as well.

Yes it is disappointing for a ride to be down when you visit the park. How you deal with it is up to you. You can be upset and let it detract from your enjoyment or just go on and look forward to seeing it the next time.

To make sure you are not disappointed with your favorite ride closed you can check the parks website for ride closures to see what rides might be closed when you are planning on going. It is no guarantee that your favorite ride will be open but it does help you plan. If a particular ride is important for you to experience you might consider rescheduling your trip around the closure if possible.

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