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April 1, 2023

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Disney, Universal report heart issues, falls on attractions


Visitors at Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando suffered heart issues, a seizure and falls while on rides at the theme parks, the state’s quarterly injury report revealed Tuesday.

The document listed 10 guest injuries at Disney and Universal from October through December. Seven were injured on Disney rides, and three were injured on Universal attractions.

At Disney, a 56-year-old man had an undisclosed “cardiac event” after riding the Frozen Forever After boat ride at Epcot in October.

Two men reported heart issues after riding Universal attractions. A 40-year-old man had “chest palpitations” on the roller coaster Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts in November and a 61-year-old man experienced an irregular heartbeat on the Fast & Furious – Supercharged simulator in December.

Two people injured themselves in falls from rides at Disney’s Magic Kingdom in November, according to the report. An 80-year-old woman hurt her right leg in the theater for the Carousel of Progress show, and later that month a 69-year-old man fell and hurt his right arm and shin while stepping into a boat on Pirates of the Caribbean.

Other injuries reported by Disney involved guests who reported having pre-existing conditions.

A 35-year-old man had a seizure on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train roller coaster in October, and a 68-year-old woman with an undisclosed pre-existing illness felt dizzy and nauseous after riding the Avatar Flight of Passage simulator later that month. In December, a 69-year-old man with an unnamed condition felt light-headed after riding the Kali River Rapids water ride, and a 15-year-old girl with pre-existing abdominal pain felt her pain worsen after riding the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster.

A 52-year-old woman at Universal, who also had an unnamed pre-existing condition, felt her leg go numb on The Incredible Hulk Coaster in November.

Florida’s other major theme parks, SeaWorld, Legoland and Busch Gardens in Tampa, did not report any injuries.

Under an agreement with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which oversees state ride regulations, Florida’s major theme parks self-report guest injuries on rides that required at least 24 hours of hospitalization.

Investigations by the Orlando Sentinel have shown descriptions of the injuries can often be vague or inaccurate.

Ride safety advocates are pushing for more details and greater transparency in the reports to hold theme parks accountable and keep guests safe, even as injuries at the theme parks are rare. The agriculture department said it does not have the power to alter its agreement with the theme parks without a change in state law.

A separate state law allows these major theme parks to conduct their own ride inspections. The agriculture department has not revisited this regulation even as it works with legislators to propose a framework to improve ride safety on Florida’s smaller attractions following the death of 14-year-old Tyre Sampson on an Orlando drop tower in March.

Asked about an early draft of the proposals in July, former Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried called the larger theme parks’ exemption “a totally separate issue.”