Disney rejects request to raise Mission: Space height restriction following death of 4-year-old

Posted Thursday, September 22, 2005 10:04 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Disney officials rejected a request for tougher thrill-ride height restrictions proposed by the parents of a 4-year-old Pennsylvania boy who died after passing out on Epcot's "Mission: Space" ride, according to the family's attorney. An attorney for Disney says making an arbitrary change doesn't benefit anyone.

Read more from AP via WFTS/Tampa.

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Thursday, September 22, 2005 10:11 AM
Seems to me that this could be more of an age thing, not really a height one. Sure, he was two inches over the requirement. But, come on! He was 4 years old! In such an intense ride, is there really a need for 4 year olds to ride?
Thursday, September 22, 2005 10:36 AM
On many attractions, the height restrictions are based on the average height for a certain age group because it is much easier to enforce something you can see/measure (height with a height stick) instead of asking everyone "how old are you?" Plus, there's nothing stopping someone from lying about their age, and parks aren't going to require IDs/Birth Certificates to prove age in order to ride an attraction. Thus, the only feasible option is to raise the height requirement to make it more unlikely that a child who is too young will meet the height requirement and be able to ride.

Another similar story here.

Thursday, September 22, 2005 10:49 AM
Good for Disney....
Thursday, September 22, 2005 11:43 AM
eightdotthree's avatar My nephew is big enough to get on a lot of rides at Waldameer now, but his mother won't take him on them because he is too young and not ready for them. Shes a good mother. I couldn't imagine taking a kid so young on a ride like this, especially after seeing all those warnings. We have to leave it up to parents at some point.
Thursday, September 22, 2005 12:12 PM
Kick The Sky's avatar Why couldn't Cedar Fair have the cajones to do this, too, with their Intamins?
Thursday, September 22, 2005 12:48 PM
Bob CP changed because Intamin stated the change needed to be done and according to Ohio law (IIRC) they had to comply with the manufacturer guidelines.

Disney on the other hand doesn't have that issue to deal with because they created the ride, not an external entity, plus I am not sure if Florida has that law, even if they were not the manufacturer.
*** This post was edited by redman822 9/22/2005 12:48:37 PM ***

Thursday, September 22, 2005 1:30 PM
It is a Disney attraction, but an outside company developed the ride system.
Thursday, September 22, 2005 7:06 PM
kpjb's avatar It's the right call for Disney.

If they change the requirements now, it looks like they're admitting that they were wrong in the first place, and ultimately are responsible for the child's death.

Thursday, September 22, 2005 10:01 PM
That's exactly what I was going to say. By changing the requirement isn't it an "admission of guilt" so to speak?
Friday, September 23, 2005 12:31 AM
Do you think the family's lawyer was thinking that all along? Just change the requirement as a favor to the poor grieving family, then suddenly go AHA! is that an admission?

OK, call me cynical.

Friday, September 23, 2005 8:26 AM
In any case, height requirements are really only a "will the restraints fit the rider" criteria? Other suitability criteria for riding pretty much have to be up the the rider. The park might be able to enforce some things such as not allowing people with neck braces to ride, but it can't really determine rider maturity or psychological state. The first time that I rode Hypersonic I had a middle aged woman next to me who freaked out and returned to the station in hysterics. Parks just can't determine if that sort of thing is going to happen.

I see one of the articles raises the "prove it's safe" issue. You can never prove that something is safe. You can prove that it's dangerous, but you can't prove it's safe. There is always the possibility that you will later find a hazard. Besides, how would you establish an upper limit for G forces for riders under a certain height? Take a few hundred of them and see how many die at given G forces and duration? Obviously, not moral, ethical, or legal. Besides, the criteria for ride safety has to be less than one death in millions of rides. Numbers this low are very hard to test for.

Friday, September 23, 2005 11:30 AM
I think this falls under the same category as parents wanting to ban certain TV shows because their child can't differentiate real and make-believe, or they're just not ready to watch. Just because something is on TV doesn't mean a child should watch it, and just because a child is tall enough to go on a ride doesn't mean they should. Parents are there for a reason, it's their job to decide what their child is or is not ready for.

Disney is making the right decision in not changing the height restriction. Parents should realize that most 4 year olds, even if they're above average in height, are not ready to ride most 'adult-sized' rides.

Friday, September 23, 2005 7:41 PM
I disagree.. I think Disney should change the height restriction to 48". For some reason that seems to be the height of maturity for most adult ride-on-your-own rides.

Just because they set the height requirement somewhere doesn't necessarily mean that it's the safe height requirement, regardless how long it's been in effect. Case in point: last weekend I was at Dorney and when I rode White Water Landing, I noticed something odd... a ride whose height requirement has been 48" to ride since the day it was open now had a new restriction. 48" guests can still ride, but you can only ride in the front row if you're more than 54" tall. Why the change after 12 years? I asked the ride ops and they told me that there is considerably more "leg room" in the front row, and over the years they've had problems with people sliding under the restraint bar because their legs were too short to brace properly and getting minor bruises as a result. Nothing dangerous as potentially falling out, but injuries nonetheless. So, they decided to change the height requirement.

I don't think it should be changed as drastically as the parents want, but I think the height requirement should be reconsidered.

How many 44" astronaughts are on NASA's payroll, anyway?

Saturday, September 24, 2005 1:22 AM
Dannerman you just proved why Disney shouldn't have to change the requirement. Being short didn't cause the kids injuries. Lacking the mental skill to comprehend what was happening was more likely the problem. His family shouldn't have taken him on it.

Just like next weekend I'm going to a halloween event at a theme park. What happens at these events is beyond what most little kids can comprehend. There aren't any height restrictions to this event but do you think there should be? There also isn't any age restrictions either but they do have warnings for parents. A lot like the warning at the entrances of most any ride. What do you think the park should do to restrict people from going to the event that might not be able to mentally withstand what they experience?

I'm sure there aren't any Astronaughts on NASA'a payroll because it's spelled ASTRONAUT.


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