Mission: Space

Disney World dealt with the same crisis twice: the death of a guest after riding Mission Space.

Everyone loves Walt Disney World. It’s full of fun and adventure. Unfortunately for two vacationing families, this was not the case. The ride called Mission: Space in the theme park EPCOT, according to Disney, realistically mimics a flight to Mars by spinning the riders in a car. They are spun so fast that the centrifugal force on them, twice the normal force of gravity, makes it feel like they are flying through space as depicted on the screen in front of them.

The centrifugal force on the ride is so intense that Disney has had to place motion sickness bags on the ride for each passenger because so many get sick.  This force is also what caused a 4-year-old boy to die in June 2005 of heart failure and 49-year-old woman to die in April 2006 from high blood pressure and bleeding of the brain.

Since these deaths and multiple reports of motion sickness, Disney has created a less intense option of the ride for those who have restrictive medical conditions. Riders can choose to either be on the “Orange Team” or the “Green Team”.  The “Orange Team” gets to experience the original, intense version of the ride while members of the “Green Team” can now experience a less intense version without the strong centrifugal forces.

Disney also posted 13 signs throughout the queue leading up to the ride that repeatedly warn riders about its intensity and others detailing the differences in the two Teams and which would be appropriate for guests with health conditions.

Disney officials, however, deny that the reason behind these modifications had anything to do with the two deaths on the ride. They simply said that the reason they made the new version of the ride was to provide guests with options that would encourage them to make the appropriate choice based on their health conditions.

Disney’s spokespeople also repeatedly said after the two incidents that the ride was inspected and found to be working properly. They said nothing about the intensity of the ride, which was the cause of the two deaths. It is as if they would not admit that the ride may have been too rough. In doing this, Disney took little to no responsibility for the deaths of the two guests.

Disney could have done more in response to these incidents, such as admit that the ride is extremely intense and create more publicity about the less intense version of the ride to make guests feel more secure about riding it. But despite its troublesome past, the ride is still one of the most popular at EPCOT and Disney is still as much as a flourishing company as ever.