International Drive visitors might have seen The Wheel at ICON Park lit up for the first time since a New Year’s Eve power outage prompted firefighters to evacuate more than 60 riders, but the attraction remains closed as inspections and testing continue.
Technicians have been examining “thousands of components” on the attraction to determine what caused the ride’s power failure and sudden stop on Dec. 31, ICON Park said in an unsigned statement.
Representatives for the Orlando entertainment complex are in touch with the ride’s manufacturer, Intamin Amusement Rides, and other manufacturers of the ride’s components about the issue, the statement continued. ICON Park also is working with Duke Energy and other experts to upgrade the ride to prevent another loss of power.
The company has not said when it expects to reopen The Wheel, which debuted with the complex in 2015. ICON Park said the process is “time-consuming and hindered by current supply chain issues.”
Additionally, state ride safety inspectors with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services must reevaluate the ride and approve it before The Wheel can return.
Department spokespeople have not responded to requests for comment about the attraction since the incident.
The about 400-foot-tall observation wheel abruptly shut down at about 6:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. Witnesses reported seeing a “shower of sparks” rain down from the ride as more than a dozen fire engines responded to rescue about 62 stuck riders.
No injuries were reported. ICON Park spokespeople initially said the ride would close “for several days” to determine the shutdown’s cause.
The ride’s power failure occurred as ICON Park and its partners face scrutiny over the death of 14-year-old Tyre Sampson, who fell from the complex’s Orlando Free Fall drop tower in March.
The agriculture agency has accused Free Fall operator Orlando Slingshot of breaking several laws in running the ride, including altering safety sensors on two of the ride’s seats to accommodate larger guests and failing to properly train employees.
Orlando Slingshot has denied these claims. ICON Park has said the Orlando Slingshot was solely responsible for the attraction, and as the company’s landlord, ICON Park “had absolutely no involvement with, or knowledge of, alleged manipulation of any seat on the Free Fall ride.”
Both companies are facing an ongoing lawsuit from Tyre’s family over his death.
[email protected] and @katievrice on Twitter