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Visitor, Stuck On Ride For 40 Min, Sues

From the Orange County Register:

Quadriplegic visitor sues Disney after stuck on ride

Published: Feb. 9, 2011

A quadriplegic Disneyland visitor is suing the parent company for failing to evacuate him from the broken "it’s a small world" ride, the lawsuit says, prompting dangerously high blood pressure.

Jose Martinez of San Pedro filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Monday, saying the Walt Disney Co. violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to have adequate evacuation procedures for visitors with mobility disabilities.

The suit has been moved to the federal court in Santa Ana, said Shawna Parks, Martinez’s attorney and legal director with the Disability Rights Legal Center.

And she is not an ambulance chaser.

Suzi Brown, a Disneyland Resort spokeswoman, said company officials had yet to see the lawsuit.

"Disneyland Resort is accessible to guests with varying needs, including those with mobility disabilities. If it is necessary to evacuate an attraction, we have procedures in place for all guests," Brown said in a statement.

During a Nov. 27, 2009 visit to the park, Martinez was left inside his wheelchair on a ride boat for about 40 minutes while other visitors were evacuated, according to the lawsuit. The rides boats stalled because of a computer glitch near the exit of the final tunnel in the ride, which repeatedly plays the catchy "it’s a small world" song

It is no wonder Mr. Martinez is suing, if he had to listen to ‘It’s A Small World’ for forty minutes.

While waiting for help, Martinez suffered from dysreflexia, a medical condition that can cause death if untreated, the suit states. For people with spinal-cord injuries, stress can prompt sudden high blood pressure that can lead to stroke or death, according to WebMd.

For the record, Acute Autonomic Dysreflexia is a reaction of the autonomic (involuntary) nervous system to overstimulation.

"It feels like an ice pick going through your temples," Martinez said. The pain was exacerbated "especially when you couple that with the continuous, ‘small world’ music in the background."

We get the same pain from that song and we don’t even have ‘dysreflexia.’

Martinez told employees that he needed to get off the ride immediately, but he wasn’t able to leave until the ride started up again and went to the dock exit, he said. A nurse met him there, took him across the park to a first-aid station and called paramedics. The nurse gave Martinez blood-pressure medicine, as well.

Disney sent Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse to perform for Martinez at first aid.

"It was like insult to injury," Martinez said.

What an ingrate.

Inspectors from the Division of Occupational Safety and Health checked the ride Dec. 16, 2009, after getting a report that a visitor had suffered a panic attack on "it’s a small world," according to state records.

Again, we can sympathize. In fact, we have long contended that the only way that ride should be allowed is if they give each visitor a pellet gun and treat it like a shooting gallery.

Theme parks are required to file state reports when visitors are injured on a ride. Inspectors found no safety problems with the ride.

Obviously they were bribed. The ride is a menace to humanity.

The lawsuit does not seek a specific damage amount. "We’re not just trying to sue because it’s available. To us, it’s to make the proper changes (at the park)," Martinez said.

What a noble mission.

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, February 10th, 2011. Comments are currently closed.

8 Responses to “Visitor, Stuck On Ride For 40 Min, Sues”

  1. TerryAnne says:

    Jose Martinez

    Enough said.

  2. untrainable says:

    I’ll bet he spent more than 40 minutes in line waiting to get on the ride. No blood pressure problem there? I wonder why he’s not trying to sue for the long wait. Isn’t a short line at Disneyland one of the rights we’re given in the Constitution?

  3. TerryAnne says:

    If he has an electric wheelchair, you’d think he’d be happy or thankful, at least, given they didn’t try to risk a shortage by having it come in contact with the water.

    Having worked at a smaller but equally conparable theme park (Busch Gardens Williamsburg; BG and Disney are not amusement parks – that’s a whole separate category and more along the lines of Six Flags or the old Paramount Parks – ones that are filled with rides versus the total package), I can say that there are likely tons of regulations in place at Disney to accommodate disabled persons; I know we had a bazillion to learn and I was just an office worker for the games department! However, in the case of a slight electronic failure, most amusement parks go the route of trying to get the ride moving first…and then worry about the patrons later or in intervals. If they are in no immediate danger (i.e. the ride is on fire), they’re really only concerned with their comfort levels. Given that this guy is confined to a wheelchair, they likely have emergency procedures only (i.e. the ride can likely be overrode and manually cranked – a process that would likely destroy the ride and close it down for a long time until the track can be replaced – an unnecessary expense given that all rides are computer regulated these days and tell you almost exactly and immediately what is wrong, which cuts down on time spent on figuring out where the problem is). It would have taken a crane or something similar to move him from one boat to the other, another expense Disney doesn’t need to be responsible for given that the ride is relatively safe and benign (well, except for it having caught fire that one time, but I digress…). I’d be willing to bet that he was checked on several times, made comfortable, or monitored through CCTV (those things are everywhere in parks; take a look next time you’re at one and you’ll be amazed at where you find them).

    A few years ago I went to Kings Dominion with a group of friends. We were on a tear to try to ride all of the rollercoasters in order of construction, twice in a row, and in under 1.5 hours. It was a busy day at the park and at least 95 degrees out. So rides were going down pretty frequently. We got stuck at the very end of the Anaconda roller coaster…less than 20 feet from the loading house. The breaks clamped down on our car and would not give way. The attendants came by and tried to manually release the harnass holds, but they wouldn’t budge. Out of their own kindness, one of the employees ran to the employee area “backstage” and got one of the employee water cartons and handed out cups of water to us. They also sent sunscreen down the aisles because we were literally frying sitting there. It took about 45 minutes to get us free, but not a single person ended up making a rukus or a stink. The employees did their job as fast as they could, made sure we were ok, and gave each of us 2 jump the line passes…to which all of us immediately headed over to the tube water ride to get soaked and then used on the latest rollercoaster that had a 2.5 hour wait.

    I’d be willing to bet that ol’ Jose had comprable and probably better treatment given that Disney really is committed far more to patron enjoyment than any other commercial park or residence I’ve been to. I’d also be willing to bet that there was likely some sort of racial discriminiation charge in here at one time that was taken out and, thus, since the ball had been rolling, this case was just kept going on the “lesser” charge.

    Then again, theme and amusement parks are rife with lawsuits. It’s amazing the crap people try to sue for – and usually end up successfully settling out of court for since publicity is a two way street. I always questioned why people weren’t made to sign a waiver at the gate saying that, by purchasing a ticket, they were openly acknowledging potential ride problems and that only in the case of disfigurement or death would the park be held liable for any injuries or accidents. I dealt with customers a lot in my job – surprisingly – and I couldn’t tell you the amount of times I heard someone wanting to sue because the games were “rigged” (they kind-of are, with many being based on a computer and allowing x amounts of wins per time per times played and per player if multi-player). I was also in charge of the lockers that clearly had a sign and warnings posted all over the place that they were two-time entry only – once when you paid and once when you left…unless you opted to pay the extra $3 for the multi-entry ones. I’d be called back to the lockers at least 20 times a day and oftentimes to open the lockers for the same people. Yes, electronic failures happened…but only about 10% of the time to the 90% sheer stupidity or laziness. Yet…off they’d go to headquarters and get their $5 returned.


    • untrainable says:

      TerryAnne, I worked at Kings Dominion way back in the 80’s. The general concensus among employees at the park was that when patrons crossed through the front gate of the park, their IQs immediately dropped by between 50 and 75%. Something about the combination of the smell cotton candy, furries walking the streets, and the banjo music over the P.A. system.

    • TerryAnne says:


  4. proreason says:

    Well, one thing I’m sure about is that we can trust “journalists” to accurately report situations like this.

  5. Astravogel says:

    NO NO NO! No pellet guns in “Small World.”
    Paintball guns would be much more colorful.
    After raising two kids and having to go through
    that torture at least 11 times, I think that there
    should be grounds for mental assault at least!

  6. Right of the People says:

    To me he’s got a case on one point only that he had to listen to that excruciatingly annoying song the whole time. They could have at least turned off the audio. I think I’d rather have bamboo shoots shoved under my fingernails than have to listen to that or the Barney song.

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