Man Wins Lawsuit over Small World Breakdown

Remember that story about the man suing Disney for leaving him stuck on the classic “it’s a small world” boat ride for 40 minutes while the music played? The court has ruled in his favor for $8000.

Jose Martinez, who is paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair, filed a lawsuit after he claimed Disneyland employees evacuated his boat, but left him on it to endure 40 minute of repetitive torture listening to the song. Martinez’s lawyer claimed that Disney employees should have called the fire department to assist in the evacuation but they failed in that duty. He also claimed that disabled passengers weren’t warned before boarding that they could become trapped if the attraction broke down. The judge agreed with both assertions.

According to Disneyland spokeswoman Suzi Brown appropriate assistance was provided during the incident, and the park is disappointed that the court did not fully agree. But no word if an appeal is planned.

It sounds like a lot of things went wrong that day. In the scheme of global wrongs getting stuck on it’s a small world for 40 minutes is a minor one. But when you add in Mr. Martinez’s disabilities it’s clear that Disney’s reaction to the situation wasn’t adequate.

(via SF Gate)

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9 Responses to Man Wins Lawsuit over Small World Breakdown

  1. Rich says:

    Really? I’ve spent 30 minutes staring straight down on a roller coaster at a 6 flags once, and the last time I rode IASMAA, boat after boat stacked up and it took 15-20 minutes to get out of the last room. Any more then that, I would have gone crazy too. The ride operators probably couldn’t shut off the music, that’s feed in from a control center.

    Not knowing you would be stuck on a boat, that was in a tunnel, if it broke down. Stupidity must be on the list of aliments here. Only if I would have launched a lawsuit over all the thing I’ve experienced, that I’ve seen on the news. I could be a huge jerk too! Lines are longer then this!

  2. J.D. says:

    Although I usually agree with Disney in lawsuits I’ll have to admit that the judge got this one right. I like IASW, but 40 minutes of that music is torture. The one thing I disagree with, though, is the amount of the judgement. $8000 is excessive. A hundred dollars should have been enough.

  3. Desiree says:

    I was stuck on a ride for an hour during my last visit. Did I sue? No. I think the possibility of being stuck is a risk you take when getting on ANY ride.

  4. AK says:

    The amount could be a set up for an appeal. He may be diabled but unless you have kids around you you don.t know how torture is on the song. They could be singing that song for hours.

    Disney could soften the volume down especially they know they have someone using the disabled boat.

  5. Michelle says:

    I think I have to agree with the judge. If everyone was stuck for 40 minutes, that would be one thing. But everyone was evacuated except for the disabled person. There should have been better procedures in place to get a disabled person out if necessary. The fact that there wasn’t is a problem, I think. What if there had been a real emergency? A fire instead of a maddening song? Then what would the procedure have been?

  6. ajaynejr says:

    Perhaps Disney should have some staff salaried exempt (fixed salary) lawyers to handle cases such as this one and also do appeals.

    Except more likely an insurance company actually pays the claim, and the insurance company therefore decides whether and how far to appeal the case.

    The Small World music has been described as torture so many times in the past that surely by now they should have installed a switch to turn off the music when desired. One thing they did invent a turn off for is the Toy Story Mania scoring. If the ride makes an unscheduled stop, you can keep shooting but all the target values become zeroes

  7. Pat Lewis says:

    It’s one thing to be stuck with all the other riders, but this sounds like the guy was abandoned and left there alone because of his disability. Did anyone even come and check on him during those 40 minutes? If not, that’s a serious safety problem, not to mention poor guest service.

    Granted, we don’t have all the facts here. I don’t know that calling in the fire department would have been necessary, but the least they could have done was pulled a cast member or two from their regular duties and have them sit with the guy and try to keep him calm and somewhat entertained, as well as to make sure they could obtain medical assistance if the guest required it.

  8. Mark Hickson says:

    If I get this right everyone was evacuated except him? Was he with somebody or alone in the park? Where was his attendant?

  9. Disney Girl says:

    Guests in wheelchairs must be evacuated by paramedics so they are usually the last to be evac-ed as it takes awhile for the paramedics to arrive. Someone should have been waiting with the man while the paramedics were on their way (and why it took 40min, I don’t know), but wouldn’t it be common sense to assume that anyone could get stuck on a ride if it broke down? Depending on the ride and location of your ride vehicle, even non-disabled people might not be able to be evac-ed right away either. It’s bad enough that most people don’t read warning signs as it is (more people than you’d think get into the capsules at Mission: Space before realizing the ride spins despite the warning signs plastered around the building), a sign warning people they might get stuck would be unnecessary and would, quite frankly, draw more laughter than anything else.

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