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Jungle Cruise - Courtesy Disney

Update: a cast member on the Jungle Cruise lends some insight below.

A woman is suing Walt Disney World over injuries she claims to have suffered on the Jungle Cruise attraction at the Magic Kingdom. The guest claims she was unloading from the boat when it was struck from behind causing her to fall. She wants $15,000 in compensation for her injury, her hospital visit and lost wages.

If the guest’s claim is true, Disney will likely have video of it. However, based on her story, I have doubts it happened exactly that way. The boats at the Magic Kingdom’s Jungle Cruise unload one at a time and the boat behind it does not approach within even a half-dozen yards until the boat at the dock is empty. At least that’s Standard Operating Procedure as I’ve experienced it. For her boat to be struck while she was disembarking seems like there was a pretty bad violation of safety standards. If that was indeed the case, it would not be that difficult for Disney to implement a gate system to prevent this sort of collision while unloading going forward.

The monorail station could be looking like this a lot more when Disney institutes its new reduced hours for the trains.

All the adjustments in policy and procedures have already been made, employees disciplined, OSHA fines levied, and the family’s lawsuit settled. All that we have been waiting for is the final federal investigation’s Accident Report. Today the National Transportation and Safety Board released that report putting a period on the end of a long sentence that I’m sure Disney World would like to put behind them.

That sentence started with a conflagration of errors by operators, management, and poor enforcement of existing policies that ended in the tragic death of a Walt Disney World Monorail Operator early on the morning of July 5th, 2009.

The report itself, issued this afternoon (releasing something on a holiday is almost like intentionally burying it, I wonder if that was coordinated in any way?), is written a very factual manner and in a plainly stated way. The facts outlined clearly put majority of the blame on inadequate procedures and failure to enforce the exact safety procedures that would have prevented the accident. To its credit Disney has made a lot of changes to correct what went wrong, but even if Disney had just enforced one of the common sense errors, this tragedy could have been averted.

Besides Disney my other real fandom is that of racing, particularly open wheel racing. So as I posted early this year, I was very pleased when this year’s Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon was feted at Walt Disney World with a victory parade.

It was with tremendous sadness that I learned today of Wheldon’s death in an accident at the Las Vegas race. Wheldon celebrated his 33rd birthday with his family when he visited Walt Disney World in June. Here’s a video from that day that so clearly shows his love of his family, of life, and of racing.

The 2005 IndyCar series champion, Wheldon was a class act all they way. There’s really nothing more to say than too soon, too soon. Our thoughts are with the Wheldon family and all the drivers and members of the IndyCar racing team and league.

Update: Today’s race was called after officials learned of Wheldon’s death. Instead the remaining teams and drivers held five parade laps in tribute to Wheldon. The video of this moving ceremony is below the jump: