What Happens if a Disney Ride Breaks Down During the Day?

Have you been on a Disney attraction only to have it breakdown mid-experience? It’s a major bummer and takes away from the magic, but you are not alone, and there are some important things to note when something like this happens. While Disney’s attraction uptime is one of the highest in the industry, there are many reasons why a ride will break down or even stall, and it’s quite fascinating how detailed the Disney process reacts to provide the utmost in care and experience for guests.

Disney’s Four Keys

Cast members (CM’s) are trained to observe the four keys: Safety, Courtesy, Show and Efficiency. It’s intentional that safety is the priority before all else. When there is a situation, or a “Code 101,” such as an attraction breakdown, guests are dealt with in the trained process and may be left in place or evacuated as the keys define the CM’s engage the situation.

Guest/Rider Announcement

Disney holds one of the highest safety standards on their attractions, putting your safety above all else. This means that when a ride is not performing at the 99th percentile, it will trigger a system error and cause a rider announcement. It’s a pretty standard track on all rides and goes like, “Please remain seated. Your ride vehicle will begin moving momentarily.” While there are more extended versions of the safety messaging, whenever you hear this message note that it isn’t a time to panic and that CMs are working to repair or in the cases of a more significant repair, preparing for a safe evacuation. Just sit tight and listen to CM directions, because they have your safety first in mind.

Repairing the Attraction

Disney’s technology is designed to operate at peak safety, which means that engineering professionals are already hard at work on the repair likely before you’ve even heard the announcement. Sometimes it’s a simple hardware reboot or a tech issue that can be fixed remotely. Other times the repairs will require an engineer on-site and more extensive inspections to take place before the ride can return to full operation.

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Stalling the Attraction

Whenever an attraction has to be stalled to for repair, the CMs try to make the experience as delightful as possible for guests and will leave the animatronics and other themed elements running so that the immersion isn’t interrupted and the wait is a little more enjoyable. I’ve gotten some pretty swell photos of attractions during times like this, so if it happens to you be sure to take advantage of the situation. There are many video examples on YouTube showing what it looks like.

Guest Evacuation When a Ride Breaks Down

In the rare case that a ride has to be evacuated, CMs will escort guests off the attraction to a safe exit. Sometimes these are exits that you might not even be aware of inside the attraction, and you’ll see the attraction sometimes with full lighting and elements shut down. (i.e., If you’ve ever seen Space Mountain with the lights off, it’s not as scary as it seems in the dark.)

Safety Check

Before a ride can be reopened to the public, a test or “trial” run must be conducted to ensure that no further errors are triggered. CMs will run the ride through several cycles to ensure safety. That’s why sometimes you’ll see empty cars on attractions.

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What to Expect

Hey, we can all agree that it stinks when an attraction breaks down with you on it. Especially if you burnt a Fastpass. However, that’s where Disney’s Four Keys comes back into play under the second one; Courtesy. Whenever you experience an issue on a ride, make sure you seek out a CM or visit Guest Services for help. They understand that you are likely frustrated with the experience and will do some pretty magical things to make it up to you –  blank FastPass (good for any ride, any time).

It’s vital that we remember that Disney cares about your happiness and wants you to safely enjoy their parks. Listen to the CMs and remember that they hate breakdowns on their attractions as much as you do. Don’t get angry when an attraction breaks down, and use the situation to get a little behind the scenes experience knowing that Disney will always make it up to you.




Has a ride broken down with you on it?

Leave a comment below and let us know.


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