The parent company of Knott's Berry Farm has temporarily closed all the WindSeeker tower swings in the amusement park chain after the thrill rides stranded visitors hundreds of feet in the air for hours at a time this summer.
Cedar Fair, which operates a dozen amusement parks in North America, will conduct an internal review to determine why the safety systems have activated on the $5-million Windseeker rides at parks in California, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and Canada.
"Safety is our No. 1 priority, and the company will not open a WindSeeker ride until an internal review has been completed," Cedar Fair announced in a statement.
At each of the parks, WindSeeker carries 64 riders in twin-seat gondolas to the top of a 301-foot-tall tower, where the ride’s metal arms extend out at a 45-degree angle and spin for one minute at 30 mph. The WindSeeker towers, built by Dutch-based Mondial Rides, opened in 2011 and 2012.
The Knott's ride has shut down unexpectedly twice in the last month, most recently on Wednesday when 20 riders were stuck 300 feet in the air for 3 1/2 hours when the brakes froze on the ride.
On Sept. 7, 15 riders were trapped on WindSeeker for three hours until Knott's workers could manually lower the swings after an inaccurate reading in an electrical safety switch shut down the ride.
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has indefinitely closed the Knott's ride until the park and the manufacturer can resolve the braking issues and reduce the evacuation time.
Riders were stranded on WindSeeker rides at Ohio's Cedar Point in June and North Carolina's Carowinds in July, according to local media reports.
Visitors have reported similar incidents on WindSeeker rides at Virginia's Kings Dominion and Canada's Wonderland in Ontario that were not widely reported in the media. A Kings Island spokesman said the WindSeeker ride has not malfunctioned at the Ohio park.
No injuries were reported in any of the incidents.