One of the parks within Walt Disney World Resort is EPCOT - which itself attracts upwards of 11,000,000 visitors each year.*** Within EPCOT, is a space-themed amusement ride - Mission: SPACE.
The latter, sometimes referenced as ‘Mission to Mars’ is “a flight simulator, meant to give the same experience that astronauts have when they are zooming through space,” says Ben Stewart, a Florida-based personal injury lawyer and founding partner of Stewart Law LLC, in a recent interview with LawyersandSettlements.com. “The only problem is that these are ordinary people, not astronauts.”
Mission: SPACE opened at Disney World in 2003 and is described on the theme park’s official website as a ‘shuttle simulator.’ There are two levels of intensity from which a patron can choose prior to boarding the ride. ‘Orange Team’ intensity is described as using a centrifuge “that spins and tilts to simulate speed and G-forces during launch and re-entry,” states an entry at the Mission: SPACE page on the official Disney World website. “The Green Team experience is a motion simulator ride that does not spin and is less likely to cause motion sickness.”†
It should be noted that millions of patrons have participated in either level of the ride with little complaint. However, the risk of an instant, negative reaction to the ride has not precluded the operators from taking precautions. “[The experience for some] is so bad they provide you with air sickness bags, ††” Stewart observes.
There is also, on the Mission: SPACE web page a small information icon adjacent to a ‘Physical Considerations’ subhead that only reveals the relevant text when the icon is accessed with a mouse click. In a pop-up window, would-be riders are advised about potential Mission: SPACE side effects - that they “should be free from high blood pressure, heart, back or neck problems, motion sickness, or other conditions that could be aggravated by this adventure. Expectant mothers should not ride.” †
In June 2005, a four-year-old boy collapsed and died after riding Mission: SPACE.* At the time, the only version of the ride available was the maximum intensity version identified today as ‘The Orange Team.’ When reporting the death of Daudi Bamuwamye, who was later found to have suffered from a previously undiagnosed heart condition, CBS News noted on 14 June, 2005 that several patrons had been taken to hospital with chest pain.*
Attorney Ben Stewart noted that so many people were having a negative impact to the ride, and following the death of the Bamuwamye boy, Disney World temporarily shuttered Mission: SPACE and revamped it. To that end, the operators reopened Mission: SPACE in May, 2006 with a secondary, less-intense option known as ‘The Green Team.’††
Daudi Bamuwamye, who met height and age requirements, died from a heart defect that impacted the heart’s left ventricle. According to a report carried by CNN (11/15/05) the boy’s parents were not aware of Daudi’s heart defect.†††
Regardless of the level of intensity chosen by prospective riders, “we’re really trying to get a handle on these injuries,” says Stewart. “Disney tells people to expect an intense experience, but there is no way an ordinary person can grasp what it might be like to be put through that kind of flight simulation,” says Stewart.
“This is the kind of experience where people might end up with lasting results that they don’t instantly understand. They might be experiencing severe headaches, lingering headache, nausea and vomiting, diminished sense of smell, memory loss or other similar problems that are the result of their Mission to Mars ride.”
*”Boy, 4, Dies After Disney Ride”, Kevin Hechtkopf CBS/AP June 14, 2005, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/boy-4-dies-after-disney-ride/
**”Most-Visited Tourist Attractions”, Travel+Leisure, retrieved 1/31/14, http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/worlds-most-visited-tourist-attractions/9
***”World’s Most-Visited Theme Parks”, Yahoo Travel, 8/8/12, http://travel.yahoo.com/ideas/worlds-most-visited-theme-parks.html
†”Mission:SPACE”, Walt Disney World Resort - Epcot Attractions, retrieved 1/31/14, https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/attractions/epcot/mission-space/
††”Thrills, Chills on Mission: Space”, Orlando Sentinel, retrieved 1/31/14, http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2006-06-25/news/SPACESICK25_1_simulator-sickness-nausea-and-vomiting-mission
†††”Tot who died on Disney ride had bad heart”, CNN.com, retrieved 1/31/14, http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/11/15/disney.death/index.html?iref=allsearch
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