Lake Compounce has abruptly shut down its Sky Ride, a steeply inclined chairlift that ferried riders about 750 feet up and down Southington Mountain for the past 20 years.
The move came roughly a week after a teenage girl was hurt falling out of a chairlift-style ride at an upstate New York amusement park.
Lake Compounce officials did not take questions Monday about the shutdown, but issued a written statement suggesting other reasons for the decision.
"Due to the rugged terrain of the mountain and the limited access to the remote area, Lake Compounce has decided to close the Sky Ride attraction permanently," General Manager Jerry Brick said in an email.
Messages on the Lake Compounce Fan Club's Facebook page indicated the ride was taken out of service Friday or Saturday.
On June 24th, a 14-year-old Delaware girl dangled from a sky ride gondola at Six Flags Great Escape for minutes before she plunged more than 20 feet toward the ground. Spectators had gathered under her and were able to break her fall; the girl and one man on the ground suffered minor injuries.
Several Great Escape patrons took video of the girl's drop, and Six Flags put the ride out of service for several days. Police later concluded the girl's actions — not the ride — were the reason she slid under a safety bar and ultimately fell from the ride. Six Flags has reopened its ride, but installed safety straps in addition to the restraint bar in each gondola.
Great Escape's ride is similar to those at many amusement parks; riders cross above the park itself to travel from one section of attractions to another.
Lake Compounce's Sky Ride operated a bit differently; riders went for a round trip over a forest.
The Sky Ride was one of a fleet of new rides that Lake Compounce introduced in 1997 after Kennywood Entertainment took over the park. Fans appreciated the panoramic views of central Connecticut on a clear day as well as the sensation of cruising above treetops.
As of Monday afternoon, the entry area for the ride was blocked with a sign reading "Sorry, temporarily out of service." The operator's booth was empty, and the chairs and cable were motionless.
"We look forward to utilizing the loading zone area for future attractions in the coming years," the park's statement said.
The ride station is toward the southern edge of the park, just to the west of the lake itself. It shares a relatively remote section of the park with a water raft ride, the picnic pavilion and the southern end of the trolley line.
Along with the popular Boulder Dash roller coaster, the Sky Ride was uniquely designed to fit the steepest topography of Lake Compounce's property. Riders boarded four-seat chairs for a leisurely, 12-minute trip up Southington Mountain, followed by a tight 180-degree turn at the top and a 12-minute trip back down.
The experience was similar to a ski lift except that riders stayed on for the return trip to the bottom, which many described as either more exhilarating or more frightening than the ride up.