Does a theme park owe you anything if you're left stuck on its rides?
Written by Robert Niles
The row over a disabled man suing Disneyland because he was stuck on the park's It's a Small World ride for 40 minutes prompts me to ask: What is fair compensation for being stuck on a theme park ride?Tweet
Before we get to that question, allow me to point out that the man is not suing because he got stuck on the ride. He's suing because he said that it took Disneyland 40 minutes to evacuate him, while persons without disabilities were taken off the ride much sooner. Federal law prohibits discrimination against the disabled, and making persons with disabilities wait significantly longer to get off a ride could qualify as a violation of the law. A jury will hear the facts then decide, unless the man and Disneyland reach a settlement first.
But what if you were stuck on It's a Small World, or some other theme park ride, for 40 minutes or more? What would you consider appropriate compensation for that inconvenience? Some folks might shrug it off and go on with their day. Others might consider listening to the Small World theme for 40 minutes a violation of anti-torture provisions in the Geneva Convention.
I'll kick off the discussion by saying that I do believe that people who are stuck on a ride for a significant amount of time are due something in return. If they didn't get to experience the ride in full before being taken off, at the very least, they should get a return pass to ride later in the day without having to wait again.
And if they get evacuated from a ride, I say they're owed at least a quick backstage tour on the way out. Don't pretend that we're not looking around. Ride ops should be friendly and accommodating, answering questions and explaining what's happening as they escort their guests from the ride. (A friendly attitude from park employees almost always turns potential complaints into compliments.)
But what about beyond that? How long would you think someone would have to be stuck in a ride to deserve a comp ticket or refund, in exchange for the day that was compromised by the long wait on the ride? How long would someone have to be stuck to deserve a comp day and a refund? Cash? Food? Accommodations? Are they ever justified as compensation for being stuck on a ride? I'm not talking about being injured - just being stuck.
Let's hear your personal experiences, and nightmare hypotheticals, in the comments. (FWIW, I don't think it's worth commenting specifically on the Disneyland case, since he's claiming discrimination, not a long wait time.)
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