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Disneyland forced to close attractions by OSHA

Update: Sunday 4/14/13 12pm PT Just spoke with our contact at Disneyland and have a new story with important updates to the below post:

Update: Sunday 4/14/13 9am PT– Disneyland opened today with the Matterhorn Bobsleds running. Space Mountain and Soarin’ over California remain closed, according to Disney PR. Yesterday’s Matterhorn closure may have been unrelated to CAL/OSHA inspection. I’m hearing more inspections could happen over the next few days. Still awaiting official statement from Disneyland PR.

Space Mountain

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (CAL/OSHA) delivered seven safety violation citations to the Disneyland resort yesterday for Space Mountain. For some reason (update: the closures were made voluntarily by Disneyland after an internal safety review), this has resulted in three major attractions to be closed at the Disneyland Resort today. Those attractions are Space Mountain, The Matterhorn Bobsleds, and Soarin’ Over California. It’s not yet clear if the Matterhorn and Soarin’ are related to the same CAL/OSHA filing. I’ve asked Disneyland for clarification.

The citations were related a 2006 agreement to make improvements and to inspections following recent accidents such as the man who was seriously injured while cleaning the outside of Space Mountain in November 2012. The findings include simple failures like not having a charged fire extinguisher and more serious ones like failure to protect employees from unsafe ladders or lack of railings preventing a fall hazard. Serious fines of up to $70,000 for each infraction could be levied if Disneyland does not comply immediately with the requests (although appeal is also an option). Total penalties for just the Space Mountain citations could reach over $230,000.

These are the same sort of hazards that forced Disneyland to close Alice in Wonderland until temporary scaffolding could be erected with guardrails. The park still hasn’t made permanent fixes there.

There were a lot of violations listed in the citation, here are a few of those listed as Willful Serious:

“Disneyland Resort failed to correct the unsafe work practice of employees of both Disneyland Resort and HSG Inc. accessing upper exterior platform of a building (Space Mountain) to change lights, and perform other maintenance tasks without the protection of guardrails or personal fall protection”

“During the course of the inspection and prior, the employer, Disneyland Resort, failed to provide guardrails on all open sides of unenclosed elevated work locations more than 30 inches above the floor, ground, or other working areas of a building (Space Mountain) at Disneyland Resort. Employees of Disneyland Resort and HSG, Inc accessed the upper exterior platform of Space Mountain to perform routine and also non-routine maintenance and were not protected by guardrails or any other type of fall protection.”

I have asked Disneyland for a statement and will follow up on this post if and when I get a reply (statement included in this post updating the story). Hopefully this does not result in another situation like Alice where we have to deal with a long closure or bad show until a more permanent fix can be found.

In the meantime with Big Thunder also down (for rehab) this makes four of the resort’s biggest attractions down on a busy weekend. I’m sure it’s pretty miserable for guests and cast members. If you go to the parks, be sure to be nice to front line cast members who are just doing their job . They deserve it as this is a situation that is out of their control.

Update: Still piecing together the story. It sounds like CAL/OSHA inspectors (this was incorrect, the inspectors were Disneyland’s own safety review) were on-site this morning and found violations at a number of attractions. Some were closed temporarily until a fix could be made. Others with bigger problems remain closed. Add to that a fire on a sub at Finding Nemo closing that ride and you have a very diminished Disneyland today.

Just to be clear, CAL/OSHA is concerned with employee safety. It doesn’t sound like guests were in danger here except as to when they would enter employee areas during an evacuation.

Update to this story posted on Sunday 12pm PT..

(Thanks to Behind The Thrills for the lead)

14 thoughts on “Disneyland forced to close attractions by OSHA”

  1. Pingback: Has OSHA Shut down attraction or just a bad day on West Coast?

  2. Pingback: OSHA Shuts Down Several Disneyland Rides | Jeff's Disney Guide

  3. Trace The Disney Dude

    After much thought over this Disneyland OSHA issue I think that Tom Staggs should be terminated. It’s totally unacceptable and there is no doubt that the problem goes that high!

    1. I agree. If the people in charge were given these warnings in 2006, and they have yet to be fixed. That is deplorable! My son visited Disneyland yesterday, and did not know why the major attractions were closed. I informed him this morning, and he was shocked! These are not carnival or midway attractions. This is Disneyland!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I bet Walt is in total disbelief and sad that his creation is being run like this! We are headed to Walt Disney World next month. I hope OSHA hasn’t issued any warnings to them. Shame on Disneyland executives!

      1. WDW doesn’t have as many OSHA issues because Florida’s OSHA is much less powerful, but believe me, the situation is even worse there

  4. It should be noted that neither the Alice nor the Space Mountain violations forced Disney to close either ride. CAL/OSHA did not demand the closure in either case. Disney closed them both in response to the CAL/OSHA reports. The report from CAL/OSHA does not state that the ride must be closed, only that the issues need to be fixed by 4/22. Disney opted to close the ride to best get the job done quickly.

  5. I am not sure why Space or Indy were not open, but when Alice was closed for a long time to put up guardrails, I though that was stupid. Alice did not have guardrails on the vine, and guests never had to exit the vine because they would manually make the cars move down to the bottom. There was always a cast member present walking behind the car, ensuring guests remained in the vehicle. Disney’s requirements for each cast member are extensive, and when leads open each attraction, every safety check is initialed, and if needed maintenance will be called prior to ride opening. Why would you print an article and speculate that it has to do with OSHA? Those rides often go through rehabs, and routine downtimes to fix areas of the attraction.

    1. Hi Lynn, it wasn’t speculation. But it was a bit confusion. I have a new post up today with a clearer timeline and a statement from Disneyland

      The guardrails at Alice actually are from the Employees. California safety regulations state that a raised guardrail must be present if an employee is working in an area with a drop higher than 30 inches. Alice’s downslope certainly qualifies.

  6. Pingback: Disneyland Closes Attractions After Internal Review | The Disney Blog

  7. We’ve been in Disneyland since Thursday and the Soarin’ Over CA ride closure has been a big disappointment. We did ride it on Friday, but we expected to be able to ride it at least one more time before we left. Now it looks like that won’t happen.

    I am also disappointed that the Cast Members have been told to simply say that it is down for ‘routine maintenance.’ That effort to ‘manage the message’ may have worked well in the 1980’s, but in today’s world of Social Media, a lie is a lie and they blow their credibility by not simply telling the truth.

    I’ve also noticed several un-Disney-like issues. Several dead trees are in the Grand Californian courtyard area that are infecting other healthy trees. Also, pine needles and dirt in the fabric over one of the outdoor cafe areas in the French Quarter and a lot of debris in the lake in California Adventure land. It just feels like Disney is cutting corners.

  8. You don’t know a single large public-serving business that doesn’t get dinged by OSHA sometimes. My 20+ years in bars/restaurants will prove that…some are well-founded, many have the feel that if they found nothing, they’d be deemed incompetent. One bar was sued by a drunk who fell and broke her elbow, she came in drunk and was never served. One sued us when she fell off a toilet. Space Mt opened in 1975, are we to believe no reports were filed from ’75-’06, or were the standards raised in between? Listening to people here belly-ache about not getting to ride “X” a certain day…what if it was your son changing the bulbs 200 feet in the air? When you look at the number of incidents vs the guests served annually, their record is nothing short of remarkable. Disneyland has issues far more pressing to the regular clients…scaling back hours in low season, the time we annual passholders covet for the shorter lines, the closing of almost every food cart 2-3 hours before the park closes, closing half the ride’s cars to save on cost at our expense (we don’t pay less to be there on those nights), staff paying far more attention to their closing duties than to the guests, the bone-dry, heat lamp toasted hockey pucks they serve as hamburgers for $10 at Tomorrowland and other quality-related troubles. This after a 25% price hike, 4 in the last 3 years actually…

  9. Disappointed Disnerd

    And so I have to ask, people are paying nearly 100.00 to get in…why ? And that’s just for one park.

  10. Wyattspoppa; for your comment on the “staff paying far more attention to closing procedures than to guests”… Understand that ALL the cast members operating those attractions are working while YOU are playing and they too are human beings. They have families that wait for them to come home at 2-3 in the morning. They have guidelines to follow as well with paperwork and protocols just like any other business would. Cast members work their asses off to provide you with experience. Your arrogance has seem to gotten to the best of you.

    Think of the bigger picture before you comment about OTHER peoples’ work and lives who commit themselves everyday to running those attractions for you. So, it’s an “easy” job and takes minimal effort…? Why don’t YOU try and do it? Then, we can discuss how Disney runs its crap.

  11. I worked for OSHA for some years. It’s a mistaken impression that OSHA closes businesses. We had no authority to do so unless there was an extreme situation, something well beyond the level of serious safety violations. It sounds like Disney is just taking the pre-emptive route by making these rides accessible to their maintenance people 24 hours a day for fast repairs so the safety flap can blow over before schools let out. That would make sense. It’s hard to do big repair jobs without closing rides, anyway. Too much undoing, such as daily removing of temporary scaffolds, to keep the rides operable in the daytime.

    It should be noted there are alternatives to guardrails, such as harnesses and lanyards. It’s possible Disney opted to use such personal fall protection instead of building guardrails in a tight space. We don’t have the whole story here.

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