Yesterday afternoon we were supposed to ride "Escape from Gringotts" at Universal Studios Florida for the first time ever. While we are definitely not fond of roller coaster, we made some research and checked out many on-ride videos (including the great night-vision video, which was extremely helpful) to make sure the ride was not too intense. After taking all of that into account, we came to the conclusion that we would be able to ride. Unfortunately, things don't always work very well...

First of all, let us give you some background information. We arrived at the park around 6:00 p.m., parked, and went straight to Universal Studios Florida. We never stopped walking (except for a restroom break. We knew we could end up waiting for about two to three hours in line), and entered the park. Once inside, we went directly to the entrance of the attraction. We didn't have to use any lockers (fortunately!), as we chose not to take anything along with us, except our phone (which was securely stowed inside a pocket).

Around 6:20 p.m., the wait time for "Escape from Gringotts" was only 90 minutes. This was great, as we do not remember seeing the ride with such a "short" wait time. In fact, every time we visited, the ride had at least a 180-minute wait. Sometimes even more! So we entered the queue. We went by the outdoor portion of the queue very quickly (it only took us 15 minutes to get back inside, meaning that the indoor portion of the queue can house at least a 75-minute wait).

Once we got back to the indoor part of the queue (the bank's lobby), the ride stopped temporarily. We were held in the same spot for about 30 to 45 minutes. Fortunately, there was plenty to see there, and the ride was eventually "fixed" and carts started moving again. From that point, the line continued moving very quickly. In less than 45 minutes we were boarding our vehicle. The loading area was amazing. We were quite nervous.

Of course, we requested Row 1 (the front row of the entire train), as it is not as intimidating as the other ones. Then, our vehicle started moving. Since we do NOT want to share spoilers with you, we will not refer to anything going on during our ride. That said, about halfway through our experience, something went wrong.

The projected image was out of sync with what we were hearing. Then, all of a sudden, the sound completely faded away, and the projection reset, as if another train was going to replace our in a  matter of seconds. Unfortunately, that would be the last scene we would see during our very first ride. After a couple of minutes of COMPLETE silence (no announcements were made), someone was kind enough to use the Public Address system to let us know that the ride was... not working (the horror!).

After a few minutes, our vehicles returned to their "home" position, in an evacuation-ready mode. We waited for what seemed to be an eternity, as Team Members were making their way through the attraction evacuating every single vehicle. What seemed strange is that, while we are not sure about this, it looked like they were evacuating vehicles starting from the loading area and then making their way through the attraction, following one single direction. As a contrast, Cast Members evacuating any rides at the Walt Disney World Resort are usually divided into two groups: one starts from unload (evacuating every vehicle until they meet with the other group) and the other starts from the loading area. We are stating this because we noticed that at least one of the vehicles ahead of us still had Guests in it. But we digress.

This was our view while we were waiting for the "Rescue Team." The theming is absolutely beautiful, no doubt (these photos were posted on our official Twitter page). We apologize for the low picture quality:

After a few more minutes, plenty of Team Members, as well as Maintenance and some Leaders/Managers, reached our vehicle and started the evacuation process for our vehicle. How does it work? Here's a step-by-step process for those who love these out-of-the-ordinary events (we are among them, don't worry!):
  • First of all, a temporary fence is put in place next to the vehicle to avoid Guests falling from the right side of the vehicle (there is a pretty large gap on either side, but the walkways are on the right);
  • Then, a ramp is assembled to have Guests go over that gap between the vehicle and the emergency walkway;
  • The evacuation process starts from the very last row of the vehicle, and then proceeds all the way to the first;
  • Before releasing the lap-bars, a huge metallic tube is attached to the left side of the vehicle, to prevent Guests from falling. In fact, there's a 20 or 30-feet drop on that side, as it contains a huge IMAX screen. This was the most concerning part of this evacuation.
  • Afterwards, Guests exit each row, and are then escorted to a set of stairs, which leads to the attraction's exit. Before leaving, every Guest returned their 3-D glasses and received a special EXPRESS pass that can be used exclusively at "Escape from Gringotts."
Here's a photo showing the Maintenance Team putting together the ramp mentioned before:

All-in-all, it was a lengthy process, but we certainly enjoyed it. We just wish we would have been able to complete our journey, as the first part of the ride was definitely one of the most amazing experiences ever. As of today, we have experienced 50% of this attraction. While our first ride didn't go too well, it was definitely a fantastic experience that we will never forget.

NOTE!: The photo included in this article were taken when the vehicle stopped moving completely, from a Guest point-of-view. No photos were taken backstage or in any other non-Guest areas.

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