The Wheel at ICON Park has reopened, nearly six weeks after being shut down when it lost power with riders aboard on New Year’s Eve.
Last week, ICON Park said technicians were inspecting “thousands of components” on the almost 400-foot tall observation wheel on International Drive to determine what caused its power failure and sudden stop. The company also said it was working with Duke Energy and other experts to upgrade the ride to prevent another power loss.
The groups have finished inspecting the ride, replacing the affected parts and adding new safeguards, ICON Park said in a news release Friday. The Wheel is reopening after days of testing and passing a necessary pre-opening reinspection by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the release said.
Representatives for the agriculture agency did not respond to a request for comment Friday.
The ICON release did not give specific details on what parts of the ride were affected by the power failure or how the new components would prevent similar issues in the future.
The Wheel’s shutdown around 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 31 led to the evacuation of 62 riders as witnesses reported seeing “a shower of sparks” coming from the attraction. Firefighters said nobody was injured.
“We’d like to thank the technical team and our outside engineering partners who have worked hundreds of additional hours to help complete repairs and the meticulous inspections required by our internal safety protocols,” ICON Park President and CEO Chris Jaskiewicz said in a statement Friday. “We especially appreciate the community’s support as we have worked through this process, and we are pleased that Orlando’s most visible ‘welcome to the world’ is open.”
The Wheel’s stoppage occurred as ICON Park and the Orlando Slingshot face scrutiny and an ongoing lawsuit over the death of 14-year-old Tyre Sampson, who fell from the Orlando Free Fall drop tower in March.
ICON Park has said Orlando Slingshot was solely responsible for the drop tower’s operation and maintenance.
ICON Park’s attractions staff is preparing to launch the paid interactive game, “The Great Florida Road Trip,” as an add-on to The Wheel soon, the release read. It has not announced the game’s opening date.
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