Disneyland’s aerial bucket ride remained shut down Sunday as maintenance workers repaired the equipment from a tower where a cable slipped off, leaving some 150 people stranded 40 feet in the air for up to 4 hours Saturday night.
A spokesman said the 42-bucket Sky Way is expected to reopen today. Park officials believe the malfunction, which occurred shortly before 6 p.m. Saturday, was caused by people in one bucket swinging their cabin back and forth.
However, a Disneyland employee said Sunday that the Sky Way ride had mechanical problems Saturday morning, before it opened for operation, on the same tower that had the malfunction later that night.
The employee, who asked not to be identified, said that when the amusement park opened Saturday, there was a “Code 100" called on the ride, a Disneyland term that means a ride cannot operate because of mechanical problems. On one of the towers that support the ride’s cables, a flange that keeps cable and guide wheel aligned was bent, the employee said.
The bent flange was on the Toad Tower, over the Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride attraction, the employee said.
It was at that tower that the cable slipped off the wheel in the guide assembly Saturday night, Disneyland senior publicist John McClintock said Sunday. The slipping cable tripped a safety device that shut down the ride, he said.
However, he denied that the Saturday morning repair was responsible for the evening’s malfunction.
“That would not have been responsible for the cable going off the track,” McClintock said.
The guide assembly, McClintock said, is a device at each tower that keeps the cable on the wheel, which turns and moves the buckets. The Sky Way buckets are attached at the top to the cable and travel from tower to tower between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, he said.
The “Code 100" is a “normal safety procedure” that is used to halt rides whenever there is a reason for delay, the spokesman said.
The employee also said that when the aerial ride came to a sudden halt Saturday, people standing in line for the Mr. Toad attraction below were showered with parts of bolts that were sheared off the Sky Way tower above.
But McClintock said the attraction’s chief repairman studied a photograph of the damaged guide assembly and found that all the bolts were in place and that the only damage was marks on the wheel where the cable had rubbed when it slipped off.
The 150 riders in the stalled buckets were rescued Saturday night by firefighters using cherrypickers and hook-and-ladder equipment. The visitors had to wait several hours in the buckets above the park, but there were no injuries.
McClintock said the repair workers removed the guide assembly from the tower and would return it to the tower when it was fixed.
The unidentified Disneyland employee said a problem was first noted Saturday morning when a Sky Way supervisor took a ride in a bucket before the attraction opened to the public, which is usual procedure. The supervisor determined that the flange was bent on the south side of the Toad Tower and was rubbing against the guide wheel, the source said. A maintenance worker was dispatched in an open-top bucket and bent the flange back, the employee said.
Although the maintenance worker authorized the Sky Way to open, supervisors who rode the attraction three different times throughout the day still had concerns about the ride, the employee said. The last supervisor rode just 10 minutes before the Sky Way broke down, the source said.
The employee said he doubts that a swinging bucket could have caused the malfunction that stopped the ride.
When visitors swing in their buckets, the usual procedure is to issue up to three warnings, the employee said. The guests are ejected from the park upon the third warning, and Disneyland is strict about seeking charges against such guests for interrupting business operations, a misdemeanor, the source said.
No one was detained or charged in connection with Saturday night’s malfunction, spokesman McClintock said. He said witnesses reported seeing a bucket swinging before the ride came to a halt, but when park officials questioned guests as they got down from the Sky Way cabins, they could not determine who was responsible.