DALLAS — A 20-minute scenic trip turned into a 90-minute ordeal for about 30 guests at the Dallas Zoo Tuesday afternoon after the Monorail Safari ride stalled.
Dallas Fire-Rescue personnel climbed from car-to-car in an effort to reassure zoo patrons — including children — and to determine the best way for them to reach safety from their perch 40 feet above ground level.
The disabled monorail, which circles the Wilds of Africa exhibit, was in a shaded area when there was apparently an electrical problem at around 3:30 p.m. Rescue teams trimed tree branches in a remote area of the zoo to reach some of the passengers with ladders.
Guests described a sweltering wait that ended with a scary descent.
"They cut down a few trees and just let us down," said zoo guest Jasmine Alcale. "They had a fireman behind each person to make sure we were all OK, and they carried the little kids down."
"We were freaking out; everyone was freaking out," Jessica Tell said. "There's no other way to get us down? It's 40 feet up! I wasn't prepared to do that ... I can't go down in sandals. It was a very shocking, scary experience."
The Dallas Zoo refunded the money passengers paid and offered them free passes for a future visit to the facility.
The open-air monorail cars feature seating that gives visitors a bird's-eye view of six African habitats where animals live in conditions that approximate their native lands.
There are fewer than two dozen monorails operating in the United States, the most notable of which include systems in Seattle, Las Vegas, Disneyland and Disney World.