UPDATE: PARK OFFICIALS ANNOUNCED THAT THE ROLLER COASTER WILL RESUME OPERATIONS ON SATURDAY, MAY 28.
Six Flags Great Adventure’s Joker roller coaster is out of operations just one day after it was grounded less than an hour into its debut.
According to NJ.com, Jackson, New Jersey’s Great Adventure theme park was forced to shut down its new “4D, free-fly roller coaster” after two of its earliest riders were stuck nearly upside down in their car for about 15 minutes.
The incident took place around 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, approximately an hour after its maiden sendoff. Three hours later, Six Flags staff were forced to shut down the ride for the day in order to continue to make repairs.
Per reports, one of the Joker’s cars became stuck in a sideways position toward the end of its ride as two of its passengers are believed to have been trying to swing it.
Despite the strange nature of this incident, however, Great Adventure officials were quick to note that the riders’ well-being was never at any point in jeopardy.
“No one’s safety was ever at risk,” said Six Flags Great Adventure president John Fitzgerald, who also noted that Six Flags’ staff “clearly don’t want that to happen, so we swapped out that vehicle.”
According to Fitzgerald, the ride’s fix actually would have only taken a couple of “minutes,” but the car in question had camera equipment on it due to media day for the new ride.
This, Fitzgerald noted, delayed the process a lot.
Six Flags Great Adventure spokesperson Kristin Siebeneicher, meanwhile, noted that the defect was in one of the car’s “dampeners,” which is equipment that is used to help regulate the car’s ability to flip, needing an adjustment.
“It’s a new ride and new rides occasionally need to be tweaked,” Siebeneicher said, also noting that roller coaster had actually been tested non-stop for three days prior to its unveiling without any sort of an incident.
Toms River, New Jersey, resident Joe Bracco, one of the two riders stuck the car, said that he was not left completely upside down but that it was “definitely not where we should be.”
“[The Joker] swings back and forth so much,” Bracco continued, “[that] maybe our momentum just got it stuck there.”
When Six Flags Great Adventure first announced the Joker, it drew attention from theme park fans nationwide.
“[The Joker combines] acrobatics paired with Olympic gymnastics 100 feet in the air,” Tim Baldwin, the communications director for Roller Coaster Enthusiasts, told NorthJersey.com.
Baldwin, who was one of several of his group’s members to travel to Six Flags Great Adventure for the ride’s Thursday launch, noted that the roller coaster is designed to be different for each rider.
“It’s just crazy,” he continued, revealing how the Joker takes each passenger’s weight into effect to allow each person to spin “head over heels,” creating the effect of each rider being weightless.
According to the Six Flags Great Adventure website, the Joker is designed to provide “the most unique and intense attraction in park history.”
According to its description, “The ride will be the most unique and intense attraction in park history, featuring one-of-a-kind magnetic technology and unique swiveling vehicles to deliver a sensation you’ve never experienced before. On this new unbelievable adventure, you’ll soar outside the confines of the track in wing cars facing other riders. You’ll take an elevator-style lift straight up 120 feet in the air. When you reach the top, you’ll begin to tumble head-over-heels, free-falling down two beyond 90-degree raven drops and experiencing at least six weightless flips.”
Six Flags Great Adventure park representative Seinbeneicher, meanwhile, stated that park officials planned to reopen the ride to season ticket holders (Friday) and the general public (Saturday). Those waiting in line were given passes for another ride or to ride the Joker at a later date.
[Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images]