Disneyland accident handled much differently compared to previous incidents

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

After a deadly accident involving the Columbia sailing ship ride in 1998, Disneyland officials kept police at bay for 4 1/2 hours, letting them onto the scene only after the blood had been washed away. Disney officials escorted witnesses to police and often remained on hand for their interviews. But Friday, after an accident on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad killed one person and injured 10 others, it was Disneyland's investigators who cooled their heels.

Read more from The LA Times.

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Might Kathy Fackler have to find a day job? One wonders...
Jeff's avatar
I don't know... I think it's a knee-jerk reaction to get on her case. I don't think she's as "out there" as I originally did.

Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog
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What time does the water show start?

And to be fair, her public comments about the park in response to this accident have been very positive and supportive.

Furthermore, it appears that one reason this is different is at least partly because the CA laws and Cal-DOSH require new procedures. The legal changes and involvement of DOSH are a result of her work.


I don't know about the ship deatht there(I know about the 100 on Indiana Jones*WINK*) could somebody tell me about it?
Well, the just of it is that a cleat on the dock was ripped loose and went flying through the air. It killed a guest and injured a couple of other people including a cast member if memory serves.

When you dock a boat like that you pull in, hook ropes up to the cleats and then the captain applies some thrust so that there is tension put on the lines, causing the boat to hug the dock and not move around in the possible waves as guests are loading and unloading. You can see this many places. In any event, the cleat snapped, I think from wood rot to the dock, and it became a projectile.

Actually, Wahoo, the cleat in question was on the boat. Procedure was for the boat to come to a complete stop, and then for the dockhand to tie the rope to the cleat on the boat in order to secure the boat to the dock. The cleat broke loose and flew through the air, striking a man in the head. Ouch.

(comments based on news articles; I was last at Disneyland in 1975.)

My thought at the time was that Disney's M.O. has always been to simulate reality, and I understand that the boat in question actually runs on an underwater track. With that in mind, my question was...why do they use engines and ropes to stop the boat anyway...why not equip the channel or the boat with a set of brakes? It isn't as strange of an idea as it sounds...

As for Kathy Fackler...since California put its new inspection and investigation rules in place, she's largely moved on to other causes. She got what she wanted, which is quite an accomplishment. And Jeff is right...she really isn't "out there" at all. I imagine most people here probably agree with her position on ride safety to some degree...after all, who really wants to ride unsafe rides?

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Ah, thanks for the correction. Either way the principle is the same. As for the underwater track, the boat basically has two (or more) long poles that extend downward from the bottom of the boat into a trough. Wheels at the base of the poles ride along in a trough that keeps the boat "on track". This is the same way the boats on the Jungle Cruise work.

When the Jungle Cruise boats pull into the dock they are not tied up. However, while the engine is idling the boat could still move forward or backward. To prevent that, two skippers on the dock straddle the boat at the two entrance/exit points and stabilize the boat while assiting the passengers in loading/unloading.

On the Riverboat, there is no way operators are going to keep that thing in place by straddling from the dock to the boat. That is why the tension is put on the dock ropes. The idea of a brake either under the boat (as seen on your typical log ride) or designed into the trough isn't that far fetched. Anything is possible.

What came up with the Riverboat incident is that cast members had been complaining about decreases in the maintenance budget, crosstraining skilled laborers, etc. Critics claimed that the wear and tear that caused the cleat to snap would have been seen and repaired before the incident happened. I am skeptical of that.

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