After the death last month of a second visitor who had ridden its Mission: Space attraction, Walt Disney World in Orlando has announced it will create a less intense version of the thrill ride.
The current attraction, which simulates a space launch and landing, has four separate 40-passenger ride systems, each with its own centrifuge and programmable simulator. The park will modify one of those systems by turning off the spinning centrifuge, offering a less wild experience for riders. The new version will open in early summer, spokeswoman Kim Prunty says.
A 49-year-old German tourist died April 12, a day after she became ill on the ride. Preliminary tests indicate that she died of bleeding of the brain and had a previous condition of severe high blood pressure. There were no signs of trauma, and Disney reopened the ride a day later. In June, a 4-year-old boy died of an irregular heartbeat after riding Mission: Space. Tests showed that a pre-existing heart condition caused his death.
Disney officials assert that the change has nothing to do with those incidents and say they’re simply toning down the ride so more people can experience it. The attraction is the only one in the theme park to have signs warning of motion sickness. It’s also the only park attraction that provides motion-sickness bags. Other signs in the queue contain health warnings discouraging visitors with high blood pressure or heart, back or neck problems from taking the ride.
Nevertheless, it is among the park’s most popular attractions. It has had 11.8 million riders since it opened in 2003.
Some thrill seekers don’t get the point of the proposed tamer version.
“How on earth can this ride be fun without spinning?” a post on the website ThrillNetwork.com asked. “People might as well stay home and watch TV.”