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Dozens stranded for hours atop SeaWorld Skytower

Dolphins at SeaWorld in San Diego
Dolphins at SeaWorld in San Diego
Photo by Handout/Getty Images

Forty-eight visitors to SeaWorld San Diego were stuck at the top of Skytower for four hours Sunday on the revolving capsule that offers “a view you’ll never forget.” Chances are those particular guests will never forget the experience. Being stranded atop the 320-foot tower with no way out can take all the fun out of a park visit. Two people, reported USA Today news on Monday, June 30, had to be taken to a local hospital and treated for anxiety. There were no other injuries.

The Los Angeles Times said the malfunction was first blamed on a power failure, but it was later attributed to mechanical failure. That makes the whole experience even scarier. There is no word yet on what went wrong. The revolving room is loaded at ground level, and it then rises to approximately 220 feet, to give a panoramic view of the San Diego coastline and city. A SeaWorld spokesman hastened to point out that the guests were “never in danger” and that they were in “constant communication” with officials on the ground.

Two park employees, in fact, were in the capsule, acting as stewards for the ride. They handed out snacks and bottled water. "They had air conditioning, so it wasn't like they were sweltering in a box," a fire department spokesman added. SeaWorld provided the temporarily imprisoned visitors each with a return admission to the park and a few other unspecified amenities.

The San Diego fire department trains every year for just such an eventuality, and the fire fighters were prepared to bring down the stranded passengers with ropes. But officials determined that waiting out the danger was the wisest course, since the ride could be fixed. Given the choice of waiting against the thrill of a rescue evacuation, most people would probably opt to stay inside the capsule until in descended on its normal course. But no doubt a couple of riders were disappointed. It’s likely no one was bored.