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Disney World Death Update

Dr. John Kuluz, an associate professor and expert in pediatric critical care and brain injuries at the University of Miami, said the mother’s report of her son’s rigidity suggests that the brain was a more likely suspect.

"That episode of being rigid makes it sound as if the brain was having increased pressure," said Kuluz, who does research in children’s brain injuries.


CNN and the Orlando Sentinel have the latest information (including soem from medical experts) on the investigation into the death of a 4-year old child while experiencing Mission: Space at Epcot. The Setinenl also has a downloadable file of the 911 call (9.7 mb RAM file).

  • The preliminary autopsy report shows no sign of trama from the attraction. It may take 3 months before the final cause of death is determined.
  • Many news stories are reporting that the ride only puts 2.5Gs of force on the rider. But they fail to mention that this is for an extended period of time. Your body experiences G-forces everyday. Heck just falling down into a chair can be a 10G experience.
  • Also there has been some misconception around exactly what regulations are involved and what government oversight Walt Disney World must submit to. The answer, none. As long as Disney staffs its own trained inspectors, they have no oversight body. Visit for more details on federal and state level regulations in your area.

This accident may just be a matter of numbers. According to Disney 8.6 million people have ridden Mission: Space since its opening. As time goes on the odds increase that someone with an unknown heart or brain defect just waiting to be triggered by an experience with heavy or extended G-forces will ride. The fact that it was a child is doubly tragic.

Will I ride Mission: Space again? Most likely, but due to my back injury it will be  have to wait until I am in better physical condition. If I knew I had a family history of heart problems I might chose not to ride.

13 thoughts on “Disney World Death Update”

  1. I wonder if the child had undiagnosed epilepsy. What the mother described almost sounds like a seizure.

    I have a 4-year-old son who is over 44 inches tall, but I would never let him ride Mission Space. In my opinion, that ride should be restricted to people 12 and older. It’s just too scary and physically taxing for little kids.

  2. I agree about the age requirement. I think Mission Space is a little too extreme for little people. When I rode, I didn’t get sick, but I didn’t feel quite right for a little bit after riding.

  3. Hey, do you suppose this kid had a seizure? The rigidity is suggestive of that. His Mom thinks he is just frightened, but meanwhile the kid seizes and aspirates. We have been on that ride, either that kid a undiagnosed seizure disorder, or perhaps he had some fever activity. We all know what it feels like to “pass out”, a vagal response to G force could have made him hypotensive, he seizes and aspirates.

  4. A childs brain it like a egg if there is enough force it will move around. The child does not have to have epilepsy to have a sezier the tramua is enough to cause swelling to the brain and cause many repercousion to happen. I do agree that there should be a government overlook on these large them parks and the age limit for these rides should be investigated more closely. There is also the possibility that the heart couldn’t take the force also. In severe accidents it is known that you heart’s tissue tares away and these rides are much more dangerous then a accident in your vehicle.

  5. While I have been in the amusements industry for 10 going on 11 years now, I have seen companies try and fail to put age restrictions on rides. Two Points; Age of a minor can not be determined (especially these days) just by looking at them. This is why height restrictions are used by the amusement industry. To ask an attendant to make that judgment based on appearance is just not plausible. Second just like watching TV or a movie adults should read all warnings prior to putting their children on a ride, Dealing with irate guest who would put their child in harms way just to get on a ride is not an uncommon occurrence in this industry.
    In this case I feel that the parents were not at fault in any way nor that the park had anything to do with the Death of the child. It seems right now with the factors that have been uncovered so far that the Death occurred due to either Photosensitivity, Brain Condition or another possible unknown pre existing medical condition.
    On the topic of ride inspectors from the state inspecting these rides, I would have to side with not granting access. Let me explain not to discredit ride inspectors for the state or many of the ride inspectors that I have encountered in my past on the eastern seaboard. Disney is an Innovator of amusement rides and one of the few Amusement Parks that creates their own rides, and does not use outside companies to drive their rides; this is part of the Wonder of the Disney Company.
    Inspectors that are accustomed to inspecting Ferris Wheels, Standard Roller Coasters and other Amusement devices are not Equipped to inspect the level of cutting edge technology at Disney, It would be much like a Veterinarian working as a Human Brain Surgeon.
    Not to mention that any thought of this would put Disney’s ride design program at risk for competitors to leech some of the design information for their own profit. Disney does have its own ride safety department which does inspect the rides, And trust me as an operator there is nothing that anyone fears worse than a safety incident at your park of facility. Related to weither it be a fault driven (mechanical Failure, Human Error) or Incidental (Natural death).

  6. Every time there is an accident at Disneyworld, I remember our incident after observing a monorail accident,at the Polynesian Resort, about 15 years ago. The monorail was coming into the loading area, when all of sudden all the doors on one side popped open, and were promptly ripped off, or bent back by the post holding up the roof, on the station. (On the old monorails, the doors use to open out, instead of sliding open. No doubt this accident confirmed a design change.) Glass, and doors went everywhere, amid the screams of those on board. I immediately started snapping pictures, and went virtually unnoticed, for quite a while. We went back into the hotel, and exited downstairs and began waiting for a bus, while I continued taking a few more pictures. Now, if you can believe this, I was about to board the bus when a security guard grabbed my camera strap around my neck and tried to remove the camera. When I jerked the strap from his hand, he demanded my film. When I told him to drop dead, he backed off and called for assistance. Instead of boarding the bus, we went over to our car in the parking area, and left. While we were driving away, this guy was literally running through the lot trying to cut us off, before we reached the exit gate. Well, he failed and we left waiting for a host of security cars to descend on us. Never happened, and so we used the car over to Epcot, and didn’t return to the parking lot until late. We creeped back into the hotel like commandos, without notice. Needless to say, we took another camera with us the next day, and were a bit nervous about being recognized. However, all was well and we got some great shots to remember. By the way, no deaths or injuries, just paranoia from security.

  7. Oh, please post the photos you risked your life to take! Glad you stood up to Security. I can’t believe they tried to take you camera….you should have filed a complaint with the Orange Co. Sheriff for assault and attempted robbery.

  8. wow that’s pretty rude to take pictures of people who are in danger and then get mad at security for trying to take your camera. How nice you are (?!!!!!?)

  9. well i dont know if was rude, how do yout hink the shots of 9/11 and oklahoma and war shots are taken, someone with a camera and the right mind to document something

  10. Ok

    I love Disney and all there parks But..They need to inspect the rides more often ever since the thunder mt. rail road thing I’ve been a little freaked out

  11. When I was little and I still kind of want to be a disney Imagineer! I am still looking in how to do that. I have so many good ideas that are not child like or crazy! Anyway All of this is making me reconsider it…

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