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Has Epcot's wild ride tamed down?

jcraycraft

Member
Original Poster
Came across this article in the Orlando sentinel, about Mission Space possibly being tamed down. I have ridden MS during the soft opening in June 2003, June 2004 and again last month, I could not tell of any differences in the intensity of this attraction. I think people are listening to the posted warnings. Here is the link and I have pasted the whole story because I think you need to be registered to see it.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/busi...jan04,0,4471530.story?coll=orl-home-headlines

Has Epcot's wild ride tamed down?
Mission: Space has seen a steep decline in hospital stays from 6 to 1; possibly guests are heeding warning signs
By Sean Mussenden
Sentinel Staff Writer

January 4, 2005

Walt Disney World designed Epcot's Mission: Space ride to rocket tourists on a fake journey to Mars. During the stomach-churning attraction's first eight months, though, it sent more people on a real trip to the emergency room than any other ride in Orlando.

That dubious distinction now appears on the wane.

After six people were hospitalized for more than a day from the August 2003 "soft opening" to March, only one person was sent for an extended stay in the six months that followed, according to state ride safety data.

Has Mission: Space -- a ride so intense it comes with a free space sickness bag -- lost its edge?

Disney says no. Despite persistent rumors that Imagineers would retool the ride to make it less intense, the company said it has not toned down the ride in response to the hospitalizations.

"There's been no material change to the ride itself," spokesman Bill Warren said, adding that the company safety officials cannot fully explain the drop-off.

The $100 million ride is unlike anything at Walt Disney World. Riders sit inside a small capsule, staring at a video screen. The capsule spins, first mimicking the intense G-forces of a rocket launch, followed by the weightlessness of space.

The spinning and abrupt movement has landed some riders in the hospital, mostly older men experiencing chest pains or nausea.

During the "soft opening" in 2003, a two-month period in which tourist riders help Disney work out bugs before the grand opening, company safety officials decided they needed to better explain the intensity.

Today, more than a dozen signs warn would-be riders with medical conditions and those who might get motion sickness to think twice. And a pre-boarding video was altered to highlight the spinning motion, an unusual move for Disney.

"We don't want to give away the magic, but we felt it was important to do given the circumstances. It's tough for you to make a decision if you don't know it spins," Warren said.

If those changes, which were all in place by the October 2003 grand opening, helped keep vulnerable riders off the ride and out of the hospital, they did not do so immediately. Five hospitalizations occurred from October 2003 to March.

Then, the number abruptly dropped. From April 1 to Sept. 30, only one person, a 40-year-old woman who fainted on the ride, went to the hospital for more than 24 hours. Statistics for the fall will not be available until later this month.

State ride safety officials said there has been no change in the way Disney, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando report accidents to the state. The major parks are exempt from state ride safety regulations. Since 2001, they have voluntarily reported injuries that result in a hospital stay of more than 24 hours.

Mission: Space could still be sending people to the hospital, albeit for shorter stays. Certainly, it is still making some riders ill.

According to data from the Reedy Creek Fire Department, which responds to accidents on Disney property, rescuers fielded 22 calls near Mission: Space between Nov. 1 and mid-December. A Fire Department spokesman estimated that 15 of those calls, none of which resulted in hospitalization, were related to the ride.

So what explains the drop?

As word spreads about the ride's intensity, it is possible that the warnings are doing a better job reaching at-risk riders, like Helen Thewliss of Scotland.

Her age -- 55 -- and inner-ear problems increase her chances of getting sick on Mission: Space. She reached the same conclusion after reading several unofficial Disney Web sites describing the ride's intensity.

She arrived at Epcot shortly before Christmas with a plan. Like the proverbial canary in the coal mine, her grown daughter Louise Thewliss went in to test it out.

"It's very mean of me, I know," Helen Thewliss said.

Louise Thewliss came out, smiling. "It was absolutely brilliant. You wouldn't have liked it," she said to her mom, who decided to skip the ride.

Sean Mussenden can be reached at smussenden@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5664
 

wdwmagic

Administrator
Moderator
It has been said by WDI that the very nature of the ride system makes it virtually impossible for it never to cause any problems with certain riders. Regardless of how fast it spins, and how many G it pulls, it will not make much difference to those vunerable to it's effects. The most likely point of someone feeling the effects is at the spin up, and spin down points during the ride. It doesnt make much of a difference to what speed it ultimately attains, its just the transition from standstill to speed that causes innerear balance problems.

It is also the case, that WDI and ETC determined the G performance of the attraction a long time before the attraction was installed in Orlando. They wont throw away yaers of research in response to just a few people getting sick. Changes to the G levels would also cause retesting, and a hole host of other issues, and ultimately, probably wouldnt make much of a difference to sickness anyway.

Mission Space, according to real astronauts, accurately recreates what it's like going into space, and unfortunately going into space can cause sickness. If you dont want the risk, dont ride. :)
 

wdwmagic

Administrator
Moderator
brich said:
Am I the only one troubled by this? :eek:

Disney safety levels are incredibly high. I feel far safer on any disney attraction than any other park in the world, regardless of who is monitoring their safety.
 

brich

New Member
Since 2001, they have voluntarily reported injuries that result in a hospital stay of more than 24 hours.
What did they do prior to 2001?
Disney safety levels are incredibly high.
If incidents are not required to be reported, I don't take much comfort in this statement either... :confused:
 

GymLeaderPhil

Well-Known Member
brich said:
Am I the only one troubled by this? :eek:

Those are mostly for fair and carnival type attractions... Disney has very high standards than the State Ride Safety Regulations don't require. I'm amazed Dino Rama managed to pass the red tape around that though. :D
 

wdwmagic

Administrator
Moderator
brich said:
What did they do prior to 2001?
If incidents are not required to be reported, I don't take much comfort in this statement either... :confused:

You can guarantee that if there are any incidents, they will be public knowledge, they always have been. Anyone who follows the happenings at WDW closely knows their safety is second to none. I wouldnt hesitate for a second putting any of my family on any WDW attraction (in terms of their safety).
 

AndyP

Active Member
wdwmagic said:
Disney safety levels are incredibly high. I feel far safer on any disney attraction than any other park in the world, regardless of who is monitoring their safety.

I've been to non-Disney theme parks abroad I can tell you, I did feel slightly concerned at some points, nothing major, but I have never felt unsafe at Disney.
 

General Grizz

New Member
I felt unsafe on one of the Space Mountain tracks (right track when facing front of Control Tower). Rough as anything. . .

Otherwise, I, too, feel very safe at Walt Disney World. Wouldn't ride Disneyland's BTMR, though. :lookaroun
 

brich

New Member
I do follow Disney happenings closely and I don't hesitate to put my family on Disney rides. I am fully aware of their safety record. I just find it a little unsettling that a company is allowed to dictate their own safety regulations as well as police them. Not that government would do a better job. I know Disney cares and would never be blatantly irresponsible. Imagine if the airline industry operated without the FAA? :rolleyes: I'm not putting down Disney here, just a little surprised by the situation and that at this point, I'm the only one... :veryconfu
 

brich

New Member
Wouldn't ride Disneyland's BTMR, though
I just got back from WDW and had no problem requesting the front car of BTMR for my 5 year old and I. Just in case anyone feels I truly don't trust Disney... :D
 

wdwmagic

Administrator
Moderator
brich said:
I do follow Disney happenings closely and I don't hesitate to put my family on Disney rides. I am fully aware of their safety record. I just find it a little unsettling that a company is allowed to dictate their own safety regulations as well as police them. Not that government would do a better job. I know Disney cares and would never be blatantly irresponsible. Imagine if the airline industry operated without the FAA? :rolleyes: I'm not putting down Disney here, just a little surprised by the situation and that at this point, I'm the only one... :veryconfu

I think you have to look at their safety record, with the sheer volume of guests, it really is incredibly safe. I dont see how any independent body could really improve the current safety levels at WDW. Disney are more experienced at operating, designing and building attarctions than any monitoring body could ever be.

I am far more concerned about safety when driving along roads than riding a Disney theme park attraction. There is no third party regulating bad drivers on the road.
 

WDWFREAK53

Well-Known Member
There was only one time that I actually felt "unsafe" on an attraction. Was it at Disney? Nope.

Six Flags. It was the Superman Ultimate Flight coaster. (The flyer). I know it was a new attraction but going up that lift hill got me a little nervous because the only thing holding you in is that shoulder restraint (and your whole body is resting on it)
 

casualrdt

New Member
Ok the air travel industry needs the FAA because the direct relationship between the planes and cost. Disney doesn't have that as part of there profit. They don't need to cut costs or take chances. Look at how many times each of us may have been on a ride and it stops, for safety reasons, or a breakdown. The ride does not continue to operate until a point where failure causes a risk to the rider, that’s called proactive safety. Accidents will always happen, but most can be avoided. Between rehabs, rebuilds and such I think Disney is far ahead of the game. The keep rides informed of what to do and NOT do while on the rides. How many times have you ever gotten on a ride and not been told what where and how? Heck the pre-shows in many of the newer rides show pictures of most boarding areas. I think Florida knows that they would do a much worse job taking matters into their own hands.
 

se8472

Well-Known Member
casualrdt said:
Ok the air travel industry needs the FAA because the direct relationship between the planes and cost. Disney doesn't have that as part of there profit. They don't need to cut costs or take chances. Look at how many times each of us may have been on a ride and it stops, for safety reasons, or a breakdown. The ride does not continue to operate until a point where failure causes a risk to the rider, that’s called proactive safety. Accidents will always happen, but most can be avoided. Between rehabs, rebuilds and such I think Disney is far ahead of the game. The keep rides informed of what to do and NOT do while on the rides. How many times have you ever gotten on a ride and not been told what where and how? Heck the pre-shows in many of the newer rides show pictures of most boarding areas. I think Florida knows that they would do a much worse job taking matters into their own hands.

I have to agree, most of the computers running rides only takes yes, if there is a no, or a maybe BAM its going to stop everything. I always try and explain that to guest when Space is down and they want on it anyways
:lol:

But from the reports I have seen on the web, it seems like most of them where the fault of the guest anyhow. Doing things that they are told not to do.
 

JEDI1138

New Member
State ride safety officials said there has been no change in the way Disney, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando report accidents to the state. The major parks are exempt from state ride safety regulations. Since 2001, they have voluntarily reported injuries that result in a hospital stay of more than 24 hours.
[/QUOTE]


That statement is misleading. The Major Parks are exempt because they have an internal inspection team of certified Engineers that sign off on and put their careers on the line that a ride has been inspected and meets all of the safety regulations required by the state, as opposed to having a state inpector come in and check the ride. Injury reporting is a different area and not linked to ride inspection. The Major parks rides are very well inspected and maintained and any time any attraction is rehabed or worked on, they have to sign off on the work done, or it can not be turned over to put guests on it.
 

M:SpilotISTC12

Well-Known Member
wdwmagic said:
It has been said by WDI that the very nature of the ride system makes it virtually impossible for it never to cause any problems with certain riders. Regardless of how fast it spins, and how many G it pulls, it will not make much difference to those vunerable to it's effects. The most likely point of someone feeling the effects is at the spin up, and spin down points during the ride. It doesnt make much of a difference to what speed it ultimately attains, its just the transition from standstill to speed that causes innerear balance problems.:)

I asked a cast member if they dubed the ride down and he said no since the soft openings. If they did they saw that people would have the same affect if it was the same speed.
 

bgtgwazi

New Member
WDWFREAK53 said:
There was only one time that I actually felt "unsafe" on an attraction. Was it at Disney? Nope.

Six Flags. It was the Superman Ultimate Flight coaster. (The flyer). I know it was a new attraction but going up that lift hill got me a little nervous because the only thing holding you in is that shoulder restraint (and your whole body is resting on it)

I know this is off topic, but for what it's worth, Superman Ultimate Flight is manufactured by a company with an absolutely impeccable safety record. They (Bolliger and Mabillard) have been around since 1990 and in that time have never had any sort of major (or minor, for that matter) accident on their rides. That's quite a feat if you ask me.
 

CTXRover

Well-Known Member
I was on MS during the previews it had in June before it opened and have ridden it numerous times since then, including just a few days ago. I personally have experienced NO difference in the intensity of the ride at all. The big difference now and back during the soft openings is the number and availability of warnings. There is absolutely no way that a person susceptible to motion sickness or some type of medical condition that could be aggravated would not know it by the time you were to board the capsules. In my opinion, the warnings are a little excessive, from the outside signs, to the new videos in the queue area to the repeated warnings in both pre-show videos. But perhaps they are needed as MS isn't something you can see from the outside like a rollercoaster and know you shouldn't ride, without those warnings people didn't really know what to expect. Now, there is really no excuse why they wouldn' know, and that is probably the reason for a drop-off in hospitilizations.
 

ScrapIron

Member
JEDI1138 said:
State ride safety officials said there has been no change in the way Disney, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando report accidents to the state. The major parks are exempt from state ride safety regulations. Since 2001, they have voluntarily reported injuries that result in a hospital stay of more than 24 hours.


That statement is misleading. The Major Parks are exempt because they have an internal inspection team of certified Engineers that sign off on and put their careers on the line that a ride has been inspected and meets all of the safety regulations required by the state, as opposed to having a state inpector come in and check the ride. Injury reporting is a different area and not linked to ride inspection. The Major parks rides are very well inspected and maintained and any time any attraction is rehabed or worked on, they have to sign off on the work done, or it can not be turned over to put guests on it.[/QUOTE]

And sometimes, they don't do their jobs properly, which led to a death on BTMRR in DL in 2003.

They used to not report this stuff in California, either, until the 1998 death involving the Columbia when the Mouse did not allow outside emergency personnel on the scene until it was cleaned.

Look, I feel safe on rides, and know that the chances of an incident are slim to microscopic from a statistical point of view. But I also know some of the history of the Disney company, and, until recently, the method used when there were problems was "hush it up." In these days of cell phones and the internet, that has become very difficult. But there have been many incidents in the past that were not the result of guest stupidity, just find copies of "Mouse Tales" and More Mouse Tales". For instance, at DL, The Matterhorn, Space and Big Thunder Mtns all had instances of collisions during the first years of operations.

And, for the record, there is a third party monitoring the roads, they're known as the Highway Patrol 'round these parts.

Cheers.
 

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