Friday, July 20, 2012

Tales from the Firing Line- How I escaped the Emergency Stop from HELL

Happy Friday!
To make your week look a little brighter, we've got another "Tales from the Firing Line" for you. This is where myself and other folks share their horror stories of working for the Amusement Park Industry. So sit down and get comfortable, these tend to be long!

How I escaped the Emergency Stop from HELL

Where to begin? Oh yes, the backtstory!
Many moons ago, right after High School I worked for Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fl. I was "Ride Operations" at Hollywood Studios, back then known as "Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park" we all just called it MGM for short. I was stationed in Area 3, which included Rock'n'Roller-Coaster (RnRC), Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and the Fantasmic theater. Typically I was located at Rock'n'Roller-Coaster but often traveled around to my other two sister attractions within my area. 

This story begins one afternoon, I was on inside loop of RnRC. Which included Line Control, Load, Unload and Control. The day was trudging along like normal this steamy summer day, I was just grateful that I got inside loop since the temperature outside soared to over a hundred this fateful day.  I kept moving along my circuit, as normal never knowing what kind of hell would be coming my direction very shortly.
I follow my route around, finally at unload my bump comes across a now empty train. So I in turn head over to Control and plop myself down in the nice, air condition "Parking Booth". Scanning threw the log book, nothing interesting has really happened so I go about the business of launching trains and yelling at tourists not to climb the damn fence. All very typical, day in/day out actions.. then the phone rang about 10 minutes before my lunch break.

"RnRC Control" I answered
Manager: Hey Carrie, just a heads up. We're gonna get hit with a massive power surge.
Manager: Power surge, incoming.
"Aw Fuck, When?!"
Manager: Anytime now, we just got word. Sorry..

I hang up the phone, check that my microphone is off and let loose a string of profanity half a mile wide that is STILL probably hanging someplace over the ride building!
Just great, I'm due for my lunch break next and it's easily been 3 hours since I got to work. I'm hungry and a hungry me often results in a very cranky me. So this was in no way good news.

You see, if your in the Control Booth when the ride goes down or into "Emergency Stop" your required to STAY there until the problem is sorted out or a manager or maintenance gives you the 'All Clear' to leave your post without a complete ride shut-down. So as you can guess, this is NOT a situation you want to be in. While everyone else gets a who-knows-how-long break.. your stuck doing all the work! A power surge is normally a 2 hour problem for something as advanced at RnRC, it's a complete hard reset then you've got to cycle your trains at least 3 full circuits to check all the ride systems.. and that's if nothing goes wrong!

Shit! Shit! Shit! I have to pee too, NOT GOOD!
I'm watching my panel, I've got the control radio on full blast so I can hear over the music and noise to listen to where this 'Power Surge' is. As I look up I see the bump rotation begin, at this point I'm less then 3 minutes from my allotted 1 hour break, dancing in my chair with impatience I'm watching the rotation ready to BOLT from that control room the first possible moment. I can see my bump, heading my way and dragging his feet.. he knows whats coming too and doesn't want to deal with it anymore then I do!

Finally he can delay no longer, the door opens and I sign over then literately DIVE out of the booth. I look up and not 30 seconds later the entire control board turns RED, blood red... like DEATH. The power surge took down the system, the entire ride screeched to an Emergency Stop.

...but it didn't matter because I was OUT THE DOOR!
(Insert insane giggling and several minutes of happy dancing in full view of the tourists here)
Since I was out of Control when the power surge hit, it was no longer my responsibility! Although I must admit, it was odd not to hear anyone on the radio giving warning. Either way, I stay well outside the door and give my bump the complete run-down of my non-eventful shift and skip off to a lovely 2 hour break.

I enjoyed my full lunch and clocked back in to sit about and Bullshit since it took nearly 3 hours to get the rid back up and running. However I felt bad for the guy who bumped me, so during lunch I got an extra cookie and brought it to him as a consultation prize.. because your ride crew is like family.

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