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Disney Dating, Disfigurement and Death
  • There is a guideline at Disney called the Operation Hourly Ride Capacity (OHRC) which dictates how many people should get on each ride per hour. Disney used to close the park when attendance hit 50,000. This was the number they found made things safe and enjoyable and was the maximum number of Guests the park employees and security guards could safely handle. But as more and more people came to the gates only to be turned away, Greed overruled Care. The OHRC was invented as a way to combat the long lines by creating an assembly-line quota to get those numbers, dollars and bodies through the park. Because of the pressure on the employees to meet the quota, accidents are on the rise. But the rule is: if there's an accident you call "Guest Services".

    Spencer Craig worked for Disney for 10 years before becoming the Duty Manager of Magic Kingdom, which he said includes "knowing everything that happens in the park, every location, with every employee and every guest". He said Disney makes more money continuing to operate a ride they know is dangerous than shutting it down to fix the problem. The lengths and means that are gone to to keep Disney safety records from getting out is legendary. They are known to be continually way over industry standards for allowable accidents.

    Since Disney has been downsizing and automating to save even more money, there are less people per given ride to assist with getting on or off it, navigating the walks, or even helping anyone having a problem. Spencer explains it this way - "If you had 8 people managing a ride and then you have 2, and something comes up, then you have one. Then things happen".

  • Some of the accidents that led to death or maiming were caused by the stupidity of the "guest" harmed; they didn't use safety equipment on the rides or did something asinine to endanger themselves, for instance. Some of the deaths and accidents were the fault of Disney, who according to OSHA, has violations heaped upon it at every OSHA inspection. However, the fines incurred are pocket change for Disney, who also find it cheaper to risk a possible injury or death down the line than lose money by shutting down a ride and spending the money to correct the violations.

  • In October 1999 Pat Shenck and her 8 year old son went on 'water sprite' jet skis on one of the park lagoons. One of their jet skis got stuck on the water when the shift wouldn't move out of neutral. A 23-year old inexperienced "captain' of the ferryboat "Kingdom Queen" hit them. Going against all park and safety regulations, he put the ferry into reverse, sucking Mrs. Shenck under the blades and boat, killing her. Before Disney called the "real" police and ambulance, they had divers in the water collecting evidence, looking for her body and pulling the bits of clothing and body from under the ferry. When they finally did find the body they tethered it to a buoy and left it in the lagoon for hours, refusing to let it be moved or let anyone to go out and attend to it until after nightfall when the visitors wouldn't see it and the ride wouldn't have to be shut down. Mind you -- her 8 year old son is there this whole time. I can't imagine anything so sick, and cruel.

  • On December 24, 1998, a piece of metal tore away from a dock as a Tall Ship was being tied to it, hitting visitors Luan Dawson and his wife Lieu Vuong. Luan died two days later in the hospital of a brain hemorrhage and skull fracture. His wife was in critical condition with facial disfigurements. Also injured was employee Christine Carpenter who underwent surgery on a badly lacerated foot and other leg injuries. Witnesses said the ship was going too fast and pulled the metal out of the dock as it was being tied, ricocheting it around and hitting the people. Which would be "neglect", except that Disney staff cleaned up all the blood and evidence fast as can be and the real police didn't even come out for three hours. Investigators in several cities with major amusement parks said the Anaheim police violated basic standards of police work when they didn't bother to go out to Disneyland immediately and look at the scene, long after park employees had cleaned things up and carted away the evidence. "You need to have an independent investigation that would be uninfluenced by Disney," said Santa Clara Sgt. Anton Morec Morec. "Maybe the worker was under the influence, maybe the maintenance records indicate this cleat was due for maintenance two weeks earlier. You treat it as a crime scene until you know otherwise."
    Anaheim Police Chief Randall W. Gaston supported the actions of his detectives saying it is "usually counterproductive to
    rush directly to the scene."

  • Marcelo Torres, 22, was killed on Sept. 5, 2003 while riding the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Ten other people were injured. The accident was caused when the locomotive derailed and disconnected from the rest of the train, which contains the passenger cars. Exactly what happened to Mr. Torres is unknown; he was hit in the chest with a blunt object that fractured his ribs, leading to the laceration of his lungs which caused "severe blood loss," according to an Orange County coroner's statement. He died at the scene.

  • As the park opened one day in 1997, two boys running to be the first on Space Mountain found the escalator ablaze with fire. There was no Disney "Host" around and one of the boys, having the brains to know what to do, ran to find one while the other guarded the escalator to make sure no one went on it.

  • In 1997 a girl lost a finger at It's A Small World when it got caught between the boat and the railing. Disney Claims people were there trying to get her mother to sign papers releasing them of responsibility before she was allowed to go to the ambulance.
  • In 1992, employee Dorian Weiss' hand was crushed by four hundred pounds of pressure when a gate closed on her.
    When she became vocal about the serious safety problems at the park, Disney said it was just "union carping".

    This was one of the incidences that finally had a huge impact on the way Disney did business with the public:
  • On Aug. 31, 1994, Disney security guards spotted two teens goofing around on a walkway of the Contemporary Resort. When spotted, they ran and were seen leaving in a pick up. A Disney guard pursued the truck at speeds of up to 80 mph even though they LEFT the park and were outside of Disney property and jurisdiction. The truck crashed, killing 18 year old Robb Sipkema. In Florida, highway deaths are investigated by the Highway Patrol. Disney refused to allow them to interview the woman "security hostess" who drove the van chasing the teens. Disney also would not release the transcripts of the radio conversation taking place between this guard and the dispatcher during the chase. The parents of Robb Sipkema sued. Even though the 'security hostess' was not a law enforcement officer, Orange County Judge Belvin Perry, Jr. said Disney had a 'private security arrangement' - in essence a contract with itself - and the Highway Patrol would not be allowed access to "internal company documents". Appeals led to the State Attorney General who said that although Disney Security perform only 'basic night watchman duties', which would NOT include high speed chases off Disney property, the Sipkemas ended up dropping the lawsuit due to total uncooperation by Disney. However, because of the suit, Disney Security Guard vans changed their Mars lights from red (like police) to amber; and they were no longer permitted to use "regular law enforcement" lingo and codes when talking to dispatchers. In other words, stop pretending they were actual police.

  • A man who got claustrophobic at Space ship Earth and could find no one to stop the ride jumped off and got ground up in a motor. Before Disney called an ambulance, they blocked the view and sent Disney 'hosts' into the crowd to question witnesses to find out just how much they did see, taking names and personal information of those who might later turn up in any lawsuit testimony.

  • Thomas Guy Cleveland, a 19-year-old Northridge, CA, resident, climbed the 16-foot fence surrounding Disneyland on one of their "Grad Nights" and foolishly ended up on the Monorail track. Yep, a train was coming. He either ignored, or couldn't hear a guard shouting at him and was stuck and killed. You would think on Grad Night there would be security people all over the place because after all, wouldn't this kind of thing be a bit more likely to go on?

  • Bogden Delaurot, an 18-year-old Brooklyn resident, drowned trying to swim across the Rivers of America. Delaurot and his 10-year-old brother managed to stay on Tom Sawyer Island past its closing time. When they decided to leave few hours later, they tried to swim back. Problem was, the younger brother couldn't swim so Delaurot thought he'd carry him on his back. He didn't make it. The boy managed to dog paddle until a staff member saw him and went to get him in a boat. The older Delaurot wasn't found until the next morning. Why wasn't anyone paying attention?

  • Gerardo Gonzales was killed on the People Mover in an accident that pretty much proves Disney didn't learn the first time. Grad Night again, and Gonzalez was walking on the train tracks, again, when he stumbled and fell. And yep..a train was coming. He was struck and dragged a few hundred feet and died. Where is/are the security measures for a ride that has caused more than one death?

  • Philip Straughan, 18, Grad Night again. Straughan and a pal had been drinking. They snuck into an (unguarded) Staff Only area and took a boat for a ride. Since they didn't know how to drive a boat and were drunk, they hit a rock. Straughan was thrown into the water. His friend made it to shore and got help but Philip had drowned long before they found the body.
  • Dolly Regene Young, 48, was killed on the Matterhorn when she was thrown from her seat and pinned under an oncoming car. Her seatbelt was found to be unfastened, but no one knew if she had unlocked it or a ride operator just forgot to check to make sure she was buckled in.
  • But for once, a death did get some safety measures put in place. On July 8, 1974, 18 year old Deborah Gail Stone was working at her job greeting each new audience as they came into America Sings and settled into their seats. She would stand on the stage, and the outer ring would rotate and take the audience to the first scene of the carousel. Stone got too close to the area between the rotating and nonmoving walls and was crushed to death between them. Ride operators were notified only when a visitor who was in the next theater heard her screaming..

    America Sings was closed for two days while a safety light was installed that alerted the ride operator when someone got too close to the danger area. Eventually the solid walls were replaced with breakaway ones. That was nice of them, huh?
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