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Further Thoughts on Peter Pan Incident

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PeterpanrideUpdate: The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that Peter Pan reopened with the park this morning and that the Sherrif’s Office is no longer investigating since the man’s condition was less severe than reported.

I have heard no more facts about the accident that injured a 70-year old man who fell while attempting to board the Pirate Ship shaped attraction vehicle at Peter Pan. But since the story is getting so much attention, I thought I’d add a few points.

The news report states that the man was ‘pinned’ under an attraction vehicle. I see this as likely, but would require that the man fall from the loading zone onto the area between the moving vehicles. The photo above (taken from Deb Wills excellent site) shows a vehicle and the moving loading platform with the track area under the boat.

The Peter Pan vehicles are suspended ‘boats’ and do swing freely throughout the attraction, although they are steadied somewhat in the loading area by the presence of a control ‘keel’ below the boat that fits in a notch in the track. By the photo it looks like that Keel might prevent someone from becoming truly pinned. But a person might become ‘pinned’ if the attraction was e-stopped after he was hit by the vehicle. But simply swinging the vehicle back would probably free the person. I don’t know how much each vehicle weighs, if any body has that info it might be useful.

The fact that his injuries were thought to be serious is what made this news in the first place, it turns out his injuries, while painful I’m sure, thankfully weren’t critical. If he hadn’t been taken to the hospital for a checkup this would never had made the news. People go to the hospital from Disney World all the time (frequently it’s heat exhaustion or severe sprains) and those reports never make the news.

What made the man fall? Peter Pan vehicles load from a moving conveyor belt like platform. Guests then have to step from that moving platform into the vehicle before reaching the end of the platform. Cast Members are trained to keep an eye on loading guests and if they get too far down the belt to ‘E-Stop’ the belt and the attraction. The conveyor belt does have a ‘slow mode’ used when guests enter through the disabled entrance, but it never fully stops during normal loading procedures. Anyone who felt rushed by the end of the platform, lost their balance, or just tripped, might fall down between the cars. In today’s more modern world of attraction safety standards, I doubt this loading and unloading method would have passed the legal departments muster.

It’s not stated in the news reports if the guest that fell came through the normal queue or the disabled entrance. Disney should probably advise those with motion limitations to use the disabled entrance so they can board with the attraction slowed down. I don’t believe there is any signage or map wording to that effect. In order to enter through the disabled entrance you need a "guest assistance card" from City Hall. Of course, if you’ve never seen how Peter Pan loads before, you may not realize you need a pass until you get there. I’d be curious to know what kind of training cast members get on identifying guests who made need extra assistance boarding the special vehicles at Peter Pan.

Finally, people do fall down all the time while attempting to board or
disembark one of the ride vehicles at Peter Pan. Just a quick scan of discussion boards found 7 or 8 instances. Almost all, however,
don’t fall behind the vehicle and infront of the next vehicle, and if they did the
cast member hit the ‘E-Stop’ button immediately to prevent a collision or pinning incident.

I’m sorry this accident happened and happy the guest’s injuries are not serious. I don’t see how accidents like this can be prevented in the future without a total redo of the attraction including the loading and unloading system. Now… don’t even get me started about how difficult it would be to evacuate the attraction if there was a fire.

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