14 June, 2005

Rider Discretion Advised

A 4-year old boy has died on the Mission: Space ride at Epcot.

All who know me well are quite aware of the grudge I have against this ride. It literally ruined our entire Epcot day this past September. This is the ride that dumps riders well away from the front queuing area, most probably to not dissuade future riders. The exit bay for this ride when we were there in 2004 looked like a scene from a war movie. People were vomiting into trash cans, slumped in heaps against the wall and laying down on benches and concrete planter berms. Keep in mind, this is low season at Walt Disney World during a week between two hurricanes, when every ride was walk-on. There were nearly thirty people in various camouflage shades of green and wan khaki strung out at the back of the building. I had to lie on one of the benches for about half an hour. When I could open my eyes I could see a steady stream of pale people stumbling out of the door. All ages, all sizes and both genders.

I know that Disney is very proud of stressing the fact that there are multiple warnings posted to inform riders of the dangers. I saw the warnings and take full responsibility for having the idiocy to go on it anyway. The shame of it is that these warnings are posted all over the three theme parks we've been to on the resort campus. About the only places that aren't clearly marked with the standard no-pregnant-chicks-no-heart-problems-no-bad-backs warnings are the benches. (A fact that I'm sure is not lost on Dave the Bench Guy. ) By the time the typical Disney Guest has arrived at Mission:Sick he will have been cautioned into a stupor. There's a part of our culture that has actually programmed the basic person to view these various warnings as an enticement. In our house it's a running joke that I celebrate the "Viewer Discretion Advised" announcements preceding racier programming. "It's just like watching HBO, without the bill!" I'm so afraid that the typical Disney guest thinks that "warning" means "wink-wink psst...this one's really cool!!!!" I know I figured that if they said the same thing about the Haunted Mansion then I wasn't in for that bad of a time. I didn't start to think differently until it was well past too late and I was seated in the ride. There is nothing like looking straight ahead at the ride console and seeing a barf bag hanging there.

I spent five minutes begging God for my life, repeating the Lord's Prayer and growing to hate Gary Sinise. I came away with a lust for Phenergan and I vow to tell everyone that this is an experience that they can pass up and live happily.

Unfortunately, I dont' know the parents of this little boy so I couldn't warn them. I don't know why anyone would think that their four-year-old needed to go on this ride. He may well have been the minimum 44 inches tall--and I doubt he was any shorter. That doesn't mean that it was right to put him on a ride that terrified a thirty-five year old woman and left her spending the rest of the day laying down in the hotel room. There are those warnings posted.....

It's a shame that it takes a death for people to realize that "Warning" means "It may not be a good idea".


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