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Disney to offer milder version of Mission:Space

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Published: May 2, 2006 at 8:27 PM

Walt Disney World announced today that it will offer Epcot visitors the option of riding a tamer version of its Mission: Space centrifuge. The original version will remain available, so, presumably, Disney will run different speeds on different centrifuges.

Mission: Space subjects riders to high levels of sustained G forces to create the sensation of a rocket launch, followed by the zero G of spaceflight. The force of the ride has proved too intense for many visitors, leading to a slew of "protein spills," paramedic visits and even two deaths.

A Disney spokesperson denied to the Orlando Sentinel that today's announcement was a reaction to the latest death on the ride. But, judging from reaction by some visitors, including those on TPI, it is clear that Disney needed to do something to reassure visitors spooked by the ride's track record.

Readers' Opinions

From Anthony Murphy on May 3, 2006 at 4:56 AM
WOW! Disney has finally buckled under pressure! I think that this is terrible and shows how people's fears can get the best of them!

I am going in June and I will be going on the REAL spinning one! What sense does this make? The whole point of the ride is the gravity! Now its just some demented Star Tours!

From Mark Hollamon on May 3, 2006 at 5:02 AM
It was bound to happen. The big question I find myself asking is Disney taking a hit because two people with poor health died after riding Mission Space?

True, there were many people who lost their lunch after riding. However, I have seen people hurl after Tower of Terror, Rock-n-Rollercoaster, and I could go on! Heck, the old line in Nat'l Lampoon's Christmas Vacation of Cousin Eddie's kid learning to be a pixie dust spreader on the Tilt-a-Whirl is more fact than fiction! There really is (or was) such a position in the carny circuit. Some people get sick on rides because they ignore their own poor health signals or have bad judgement (you really should wait an hour or so after shoving a turkey leg down your throat and chasing it with an Itsacadoozie!) about their ride timing.

I guess at the end of the day Mission Space will see more visitors because more people will try the tame version first and then maybe their curiosity will peak and they will give the full version a try.

I just can't help but think this could be the precedent of a complete culture change in thrill rides. Are we seeing the beginning of the end?

What's next? Lap bars on It's a Small World?

From Chris Walton on May 3, 2006 at 6:30 AM
This is exactly what I was afraid of.
From Erik Yates on May 3, 2006 at 7:02 AM
This just shows you how much disney listens to that dollar. Instead of ripping it out and putting something else, lets tone it down so that its not a ride at all. Lets forget that its completely different than the original concept to begin with. The deaths were not caused by the ride, the first one died before the ride even started, and the second had a condition. I'm not defending disney,but the public seems to have just blown this thing way out and disney, not wanting to buckle completely and tear the ride down is going to dump more money into it and tone it down just to please some folks. Its crap. Either stand up and say heck with it and amp it up to the original specs or just kill it altogether. Stop the eggshell walking. I agree, whats next? Lap bars on Small World? Shoulder harnesses on Pirates?
From Anthony Murphy on May 3, 2006 at 7:28 AM
Public fear is very dangerous! People do realize that they have a better chance of dying on the way to EPCOT than in EPCOT?

I have ridden this ride many times and I haven't even felt a burp! I might be in good condtion from the ride, but Disney is now saving us from ourselves?

I guess people are dumber than I imagined!

Its sad these people died, but it is such a random occurance and freak thing to happen!

From Ben Mills on May 3, 2006 at 8:35 AM
Ignoring the basic fact that this might actually stop some of the injuries and bad publicity...

This is moving toward the way of the Robocoaster, it seems to me. And surely allowing guests to choose the intensity of their ride is the ideal set-up, anyway? It's your one big Orlando holiday in years, and you're feeling a little shakey today. You really want to go on Mission: Space, but don't really want to do yourself a harm. Why the hell *shouldn't* you get the option of a slightly tamer ride?

Seriously, those predicting that this is the end of the thrill ride world need to take a step back and realise how ridiculous that is. Disney are going back to their roots and allowing even more people to experience the same ride, something Walt always believed in. How is this anything but progress? It's not like they're discontinuing the original, for lord's sake.

Two thumbs up from me, on this one. I don't always know if I can handle a second go straight away on Mission: Space, much as I would love to. Now I'll be able to without worry. The sooner they start implementing this on rides that could conveniently do it without ruining the original experience or increasing queues, the better.

From Chris Walton on May 3, 2006 at 10:17 AM
AS long as they keep the original version I suppose I'll be fine, I suppose I can see from a business standpoint where Disney is coming from.
From Robert Niles on May 3, 2006 at 12:20 PM
I think Ben nails it. (As usual, of course....) The robocoaster is the appropriate analogy here, as Disney's offering riders a choice, and not mandating a slower ride, as it has done with Body Wars and Dinosaur and other rides, in the past.

But will this make the ride safer for people at risk? Only if they choose the milder experience. And that's the problem. The people who have ridden this ride and suffered for it did so in spite of the most aggressive pre-ride warnings in the industry. I am certain some folks will choose the milder experience, but the only way to ensure that you make the correct choice is to know your health and to be honest with yourself about it. That means getting to the doctor, checking your height, weight and blood pressure, at the minimum, and correcting any problems before riding any thrill ride.

From Tombraider Ty on May 3, 2006 at 3:03 PM
How will they do both versions? ?_?
From Donna Tolliver-Walker on May 3, 2006 at 3:37 PM
This sounds like a good option, since the original intensity is still available for those who want to ride at that level.

To me, the recent death on this ride reflects different factors than many of the fatalities & serious injuries reported on other rides. The ride, operating as it should with no mechanical or operator error, activated underlying (unknown?) medical issues in a rider who was not attempting to defeat a restraint or otherwise "misbehave" on the ride -- such that the person DIED.

Most of the warnings I see, hear, and read in ride queues warn about possible harm to persons with medical conditions, pregnant women, etc. -- but how many of these rides have an actual record of people DYING when there was no mechanical malfunction or operator error to point to?

Maybe rides such as these, where death has actually occurred, do need a new level of warning along the lines of "This ride has caused death in apparently healthy persons." -- I haven't followed up, but did the German woman know of her pre-existing condition?

And, yes, I know you could argue that people should know their health status -- but again, to me the situation here is somewhat different, in that the ride operating correctly has resulted in the death of a rider who was not trying to behave unsafely on the ride.

I'm out of shape and getting more so with every passing year, but I love coasters, ride them every year, and probably wouldn't have thought twice about Mission: Space since I've ridden plenty of gravitron-type rides throughout my life. But it really gives me pause that someone died on this ride while all was operating correctly, and that level of risk I'd like to know about.

However, since people can tune out warnings, especially when our litigious society results in warnings about so many things, maybe -- & hopefully -- Disney's response will alert riders to the intensity of the ride in a better way than putting up a new type of warning message.

From Richard Keskinen on May 3, 2006 at 3:39 PM
Hey everyone Im new to the site. Im just really glad there not shuting down the real mission space ride. Instead they are just gonna build a milder version and take the hit money wise. Plus the line for the the real ride will decrease im sure. I was in Disney in Febuary and I rode the ride and thought it was pretty cool. Really intense, I can see why people and haveing such a hard time with keeping there lunch down.
From Erik Yates on May 3, 2006 at 8:55 PM
I still think this is a bad move. Its to the point of giving in. People, look at the ride. It comes with barf bags. It tells you over and over again that you need to be in top health to ride. Do not ride if you have conditions a-z. People choose not to heed those warnings. They have seen the consequences if you ignore the warnings. Its not a fact of being the end of thrill rides, or even about back to their roots. Disney was slipping slowly to other parks when it came to offering older audiences something. Instead they are apologizing to the families and saying "we were wrong, heres a ride for you instead of something fun". It is only a matter of time before they tone down the whole ride completely. Bottom dollar. Its all about bottom dollar.
From Larry Shimokaji on May 4, 2006 at 8:57 AM
I find that it is very very wrong that it is not reported that health effect may have cause the death. I work for Universal Studio in Southern California
From Robert Verginia on May 5, 2006 at 2:34 PM
I, for one, am glad they are offering a milder option. While I can handle - and really enjoy the regular ride, some members of my family have passed on this ride because of the scare signs. I too beleive that Walt would have wanted this. To answer a prior post, there are 4 spinners on this ride, each one with (I think)10 pods. There should be little impact to the lines since so many will want to try both versions.
From Sophal Khuong on May 5, 2006 at 8:25 PM
I agree with the decision. There was only one of the four pods that was open when I was there with no line up. I think people are scared anyway because of the incident so they should use another pod for a milder version.

I wonder if the two people who died would have gone to the milder version. I think they should recommand riders to go on the milder version first.

I am in an excellent condition, but could not handle Mission Space. If I would have tried the milder version first, I would probably not go to the "real" one.

From Ben Mills on May 6, 2006 at 4:29 PM
Erik, seriously, how does this decision detriment you at all? I'm trying to understand why you seem so personally offended by Disney allowing *more* people to ride, Mission: Space, but genuinely can't. There isn't really any evidence to suggest that it's "only a matter of time before they tone down the whole ride completely".

Maybe I'm dull, but I'm seriously missing out on any negative points there may be to this decision. Robert makes a valid point, how many people possibly at risk will still choose to ignore warning and head straight for the more intense ride, but let's ignore all the safety issues for the moment and focus on the fact that Disney is opening the ride up to more people. Deaths or not, that's got to be a good thing, right?

And to claim that a toned-down Mission: Space won't be at all fun is just silly. Finally, as it doesn't seem to be sinking in for everyone, let's just reiterate a final time: Disney aren't changing or getting rid of Mission: Space! They're just (effectively) adding a new one alongside it!

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