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Disneyland’s Space Mountain Ride Has a Dark Side Only Few People See

ANAHEIM, California (September 12, 2015) — When Disneyland’s space-themed indoor roller coaster called Space Mountain opened to the public in 1977, visitors were thrilled to have a second roller coaster at the park.

The opening ceremonies, held at Tomorrowland where the ride was built, were a spectacle to be seen and one to remember. It was even attended by six of the seven original astronauts of the Project Mercury mission — the first human spaceflight.

In the 38 years since that opening, Space Mountain has undergone renovations and upgrades and overall, it is relatively safe to ride for most healthy guests. However, anytime you combine high speeds and human beings, there’s bound to be a dark side.

Indeed, there have been a number of serious injuries and at least one death that have taken place on Space Mountain, according to the book, “The People Versus Disneyland.” Some were deemed to be the fault of Disneyland, but others involved carelessness of individuals.

Space Mountain Accidents

Back in 1979, a Space Mountain guest was killed on the ride. A 31-year-old woman became ill a ride, but instead of pulling her out to safety, at the unloading dock an employee accidentally launched her car on a second ride. When she eventually returned to the station she was going in and out of consciousness. The Anaheim theme park transported the injured woman to a hospital in one of their vans, but she died of her injuries.

In 1983, James Higgins, 18, suffered severe brain and spinal injuries and was in a coma for about four weeks after he was thrown from a rocket on Space Mountain and struck a wall. The accident left him paralyzed from the waist down. The young man was reportedly intoxicated at the time of the accident and after awaking from his coma could not recall why he came out of the fast-moving car, but Disney contended he purposely wriggled free and the jury sided with the theme park.

The largest number of people hurt in a single accident at Space Mountain took place in 2000 when nine people aboard the ride were injured. The ride reportedly malfunctioned when a wheel arm assembly came loose. One of the cars came to an abrupt stop.

Just a few years later, four people were injured when one of the rockets rode through a stop zone and crashed into the rear-end of a second car.

Disney closed down the ride for a couple of years and rebuilt the track from scratch.

Meanwhile, during renovations, Disneyland was fined $234,850 for six violations after maintenance workers were injured by California Division of Occupation al Safety and Health

“The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health issued fines totaling $234,850 for six violations related to the maintenance of fire extinguishers and safety barriers and anchors for exterior cleaners and other workers on Space Mountain.” LA Times reports

The Space Mountain accident was reported a day after a new federal report focused attention on dangers at theme parks across the nation.

Space Mountain Employees Hurt in Accidents

Disneyland employees have also been hurt at Space Mountain. One employee that was critically injured on the ride was a woman who became entangled in a car and was dragged about 25 feet. Her job was to ensure safety bars on the ride were down and in the locked position, however, the automated ride took off dragging her with it. She suffered a broken pelvis and ankle, she injured her back and had lacerations and bruises. The woman sued Disney and won a $154,000 settlement with lifetime annual payments of $240,000 a year. More recently, in 2012, Disneyland mechanic Christopher Monday, 68, of Lakewood suffered critical injuries in October 2012 when he was struck by a Space Mountain vehicle while working on the ride.

Amusement Park Ride Statistics

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which backs pending legislation to give it power to investigate accidents, said its survey of 100 emergency rooms found that 7,260 people were injured on permanent amusement park rides last year. This is a 12% increase from the previous year and a 95% rise over the 1996 figure. But the agency also acknowledges that its survey is only “marginally significant” and that the numbers could be off by as much as 50%.

Amusement Park Accident Attorney

There is never any guarantee of safety when you visit a theme or amusement park. Millions of people, however, safely ride attractions every year without incident, but that said, accidents and injuries do take place and people do get hurt or even killed.

Johnson Attorneys Group, which has headquarters in Orange County, California, would like to help you get the compensation you deserve if you are hurt in an amusement park accident. It’s no easy task to take Disneyland to court, but if they are liable for your injuries or loss it makes sense to take steps to secure your legal rights by speaking to a qualified and experienced attorney. The facts of any individual accident are unique and only an attorney can give you advice about whether your case has merit.

Call us at 800-235-6801 and request a free consultation with an attorney to see if you have a legal claim to compensate you for your amusement park accident.

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