On Wednesday, January 21, the Orlando Sentinel published an article with the title “Riders Die After Small World, Toy Story.” Who wouldn’t want to know what happened on these extremely tame rides where two separate women died after riding them? Were they operating properly? Are there gruesome pictures? Maybe it was a freak accident.
While the report did not go into specifics on how the two women died, considering no one else on the ride vehicles reported any injuries (or deaths), it seems highly unlikely that the ride was related to the death.
Walt Disney World and other Florida theme parks report injuries (and deaths) voluntarily to the Florida Bureau of Fair Rides department and the report becomes public information. Basically, if anyone becomes hospitalized for more than 24 hours directly after being on a ride, it becomes public record. Even if that hospitalization had nothing to do with the actual ride, it gets noted on the report.
In the cases of both women who rode it’s a small world and Toy Story Midway Mania, Disney reported that the rides were operating normally. My condolences go out to their families and to be clear, this article is not aimed at them, but at the Orlando Sentinel and anyone else who decides to report this as news.
The article goes on to state that nine other incidents were reported at Disney, including a man feeling nauseous after riding Space Mountain, a woman tripping over a guest’s bag while exiting Soarin’ and fracturing her shoulder, and a 64-year-old woman who fell and fractured her leg after getting off the carousel in Fantasyland.
Friends, none of this is news. I am sorry to say that injuries happen at theme parks nationwide and it rarely has anything to do with them being unsafe. It has more to do with the 20,000-to-60,000 people happening to set foot in them every day and as luck would have it, accidents happen. So why report on it? It’s simple: click bait.
Because Disney and death are both associated with the story, people will click on it to find out what happened. Even if the answer is… well… nothing. Imagine if the headline was “Two women die from natural causes at Disney.” People would click, but the headline becomes laughable before you even start reading. Or imagine a story about “Two women die of natural causes after watching ‘The Lego Movie’.” No one cares.
For years, theme parks (particularly Disney) have been used by the media to try and make situations seem worse than they are simply by posting headlines that draw people in. Admittedly, I fell for it this time. My hope is the media decides to take the moral high ground and not bother posting articles like this. Or maybe it’s me who needs to learn to not click on these links? Your thoughts?