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Costumed Character Killed in Disney World Parade

Walt Disney World: A characters cast member was killed during the afternoon parade at the Magic Kingdom, according to a Reedy Creek spokesperson.

From Robert Niles
Posted February 11, 2004 at 3:39 PM
A Disney characters cast member was killed backstage during the afternoon parade at the Magic Kingdom, according to a Reedy Creek spokesperson.

The costumed character was taking part in an afternoon parade and was killed about 3:15 p.m., Bo Jones, assistant chief of the Reedy Creek Fire Department, told the Orlando Sentinel. Jones said the incident happened offstage, out of the view of guests.

Video reports from local TV stations showed that the cast member was crushed by a "snow globe" float in the staging area to the east of Splash Mountain, where floats and performers line up before the parade.


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From Robert Niles
Posted February 11, 2004 at 6:12 PM
The Associated Press is identifying the dead cast member as Javier Cruz, 38, of Orlando. AP reports that Cruz was about to step onto the parade route when he was struck and killed.

Disney spokeswoman Rena Langley said Cruz, who played Pluto, had worked at the park since 1995.

From David Klawe
Posted February 11, 2004 at 9:39 PM
The Orlando Sentinel has a full report, available from this Kansas City Star link...

http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/nation/7932508.htm

>>On Wednesday, he was dressed as Pluto near the end of the parade line and was about to pass through a gate into public view near Splash Mountain when the float struck him. Marin, his sister, said someone who worked with her brother told her that he tripped in front of the float and there wasn't enough time for him to move.<<

From Robert Niles
Posted February 11, 2004 at 10:03 PM
Where on God's Earth were the Entertainment leads? Last time I worked a Magic Kingdom parade, there were a swarm of leads around the various characters and floats, each with a radio putting them in contact with the other leads and floats. Shouldn't one of these leads seen the fall, and ordered the float to stop? Why did the safety procedures that Disney's traditionally had in place to prevent this sort of tragedy fail today?

From Matthew Woodall
Posted February 11, 2004 at 11:53 PM
Prayers and good thoughts to the victim, his family, and all those involved in the accident.

From John Ingham
Posted February 12, 2004 at 12:18 AM
The accident at the Magic Kingdom on Wednesday is indeed a tragic one. Prayers and thoughts, go out to the victim. As a former worker of Disney, I would like to say that somehow this accident I do believe could have been preventable. Why wasn't the float stopped? I am surprised that this story had been released by the Company. Something doesn't add up. An experienced character, A float that can't go that fast, and a delay in the timing of stopping this? Stay tuned

From David Klawe
Posted February 12, 2004 at 3:09 AM
The best detail I have seen yet...

http://www.mouseplanet.com/wdwupdate/accident/

>>Thursday, February 12, 2:45 a.m. EST – Preliminary inquiries indicates the following:

The float involved in the accident was the Ariel float, which rolled back onto Cruz when it broke free from the rest of the three-part Princess float. Four floats made it out to the publicly visible areas before the accident. The fifth float, “A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes,” was about to go out when the accident occurred. The first four floats completed the parade route, and the cast members involved with those floats did not know what happened until they finished.

In addition, according to a “very trustworthy” cast member who posted at WDWMagic, the driver of the float is a 10-year veteran of his job. In addition, the four floats that were forced to go onstage, went quickly through their parade route without stopping. The cast member speculates that when the parade resumes, it will be without its Princess unit for a period of time.<<

From Jeff Arons
Posted February 12, 2004 at 6:52 AM
Cruz did not see the float coming.

From Robert Niles
Posted February 12, 2004 at 10:29 AM
Okay, so it sounds as if we have a "stray" float unit, decoupled from its other units, and, presumably, therefore not under a driver's control. [That information turns out to be incorrect -- correction below--Robert.]

FWIW, a decoupled unit was the initial cause of the Thunder Mountain fatality at Disneyland late last year. Will this also become a maintenance controversy?

The Orlando Sentinel reports that Cruz had two children who with their mother, Cruz's ex-wife, in Kissimmee.

From Joe Lane
Posted February 12, 2004 at 10:31 AM
This is just so very, very horrible and tragic, and I feel so deeply for his family and friends. I cannot begin to imagine the horror this Cast Member experienced, and I thank God it didn't happen Onstage. Terrible news.

I refuse to speculate on this until further details develop--while there may have been some error in safety procedures, I won't attempt to point blame until we know for sure what happened--out of respect for the victim and his co-workers.

From Jeff Arons
Posted February 13, 2004 at 4:48 AM
I really have no idea how a float could "go astray". I just heard about this on my local radio station while I was sick in bed.

Actually, Robert, the floats are computer-driven. So if we had a computer failure here...

From Andrew Swanson
Posted February 13, 2004 at 1:47 PM
The floats are driven by people not computers
Level One drivers operate the small floats in Spectro.

After six months as a level one, you can become a level two if you have a good record. Level two are the medium sized spectro floats.

After six months as a level two you can become a level three. These are the largest spectro floats with several units connected via tow bars

After six months as a level three, with a good record card, you can become a "big boy" driver. Big boy drivers drive the day parade floats. You could essentially consider them level four, but must people just use the "big boy nickname."

Robert's a former Attractions CM, who worked parade control; I'm a former Entertainment CM; we're both familar with parades.

Any other questions-feel free to ask, we'll try to help.

RIP Javier; you will be missed, buddy

From Jeff Arons
Posted February 13, 2004 at 12:04 PM
Oh yeah...that's the main street electrical parade that is driven by computers.

From Corby Kissling
Posted February 15, 2004 at 10:46 AM
First of all I can't belive this tragedy happened.

But secondly I can't believe everyone is saying it was Pluto who was killed. What happened to keeping the magic alive?! A parade performer was killed, not Pluto, Pluto's doing fine, he's sad, but he's alive and well. I'm asking everyone who sees this to go to your news source and tell them to keep the magic alive for Javier's memory. He would never have wanted to ruin any child's magic.

We miss you Javier, you'll never be forgotten.

ps. All floats are driven by real people. There are computer sensors on the floats, but they are simply for audio. Get that... real people.

From Joe Lane
Posted February 15, 2004 at 12:50 PM
What news source did you hear that from, Corby? I mean, it wasn't our site, so I'm curious as to what news site or program said such a thing.

I'm also troubled by the cause of death. The Mouse Planet article says the float broke off from a series of connected floats and rolled backwards onto Cruz, but the Sentinel article uses an eyewitness account, saying Cruz tripped and a float (single) ran over him. The Sentinel report makes this an accident, but the report on MousePlanet questions the condition of the floats themselves.

From Robert Niles
Posted February 15, 2004 at 3:47 PM
The Orlando Sentinel's most recent report discredits the MousePlanet report with sources who confirm that the flost was where it was supposed to be. The remaining questions are: How did Cruz get "entangled" with the float? And why didn't one of the character's handlers see that in time to help?

Disney's known for years that people have severly restricted vision in those costumes. That's why characters never go on stage without handlers or leads to serve, in part, as their "eyes" and help protect them.

From Robert Niles
Posted February 15, 2004 at 4:39 PM
Ask, and ye shall receive....

Quoting from an e-mail from a source whom I shall leave anonymous:

"Javier was walking up from the Production Center backstage at Step off right next to the floats, waiting his turn for the float. He tripped over the railroad tracks and landed in between the Cinderella globe and the Belle and Beast globe. The girls in the globes saw him fall and began pushing the e-stop button which would have prevented the float from moving. The e-stops didn't work and
Javier was pulled under the float and died instantly."

Any current or former entertainment folks care to comment on the float e-stop issue? I'm not familiar with those.

From Joe Lane
Posted February 17, 2004 at 10:54 AM
I'm really egaer to know how the e-stop system operates--and how quickly it's designed to respond.

Reason being is because if (that's IF, folks, I'm speculating on this) the float is supposed to stop almost instaneously, why didn't it? Was there a malfunction, or does it take a foot or three for the floats to stop? When were the floats last maintained? Are the e-stops ever checked? Ultimately, if this is a mechanical error, could it have been avoided with proper mechanical checkups? And were those scaled back due to any budget cuts? Do we have a potential similar situation to the Disneyland Thunder Mountain tragedy?

Again, folks, please don't fly off the handle on this, I'm just curious what you folks may think.

From Orlando Insider
Posted February 20, 2004 at 8:58 PM
Re: the e-stop thing. I don't know about how it works for Disney, but when I worked at universal (in attractions, later in tech services), the e-stops generally shut everything down instantaneously. For example, the Triceratops Encounter has 24 different e-stops. They're very sensitive, so if one is pressed or activated the dinosaur will instantly freeze (within a second). If an e-stop is hit at Ripsaw Falls, the ride will stop and the water will immediately drain. Also, the techs at universal have a list of daily, weekly, monthly, and annual checks that they have to perform for preventative maintenance. Even with that, accidents will still happen. But I am curious as well to know about the floats and whether it was a freak thing that happened, or if it was from lack of routine maintenance.

From Joe Lane
Posted February 20, 2004 at 9:41 PM
Thanks for the information, OI. I'm working with someone on gathering information on the incident. It just FEELS like there's more to this than is being told--I'll keep you folks posted.

From Jeff Arons
Posted February 21, 2004 at 6:31 PM
Oh, I didn't know that...I thought that they were computer-driven...it said that on some Travel Channel show.

From Anon Mouse
Posted February 21, 2004 at 8:49 PM
Quote "The girls in the globes saw him fall and began pushing the e-stop button which would have prevented the float from moving. The e-stops didn't work and
Javier was pulled under the float and died instantly."

WOW!!! This is bad.

The safety system did not work. It's sounds like a complete breakdown in safety procedures.

From Robert Niles
Posted February 21, 2004 at 11:10 PM
Depends. Momentum is a powerful force. If you've got a kill switch on a vehicle, or even a brake, you know that doesn't mean your vehicle's stopping on a dime when you hit it. I'm gonna wait for a report before assigning blame here.

From Matthew Woodall
Posted February 22, 2004 at 2:05 AM
How does the float E-Stop system work...does it send a signal to the driver to stop the float...or does it stop the ride automatically as soon as it is pushed?

From Mr. D. T.
Posted February 22, 2004 at 7:39 AM
Beats me, but I'm sure the emergency button would've put everything to a standstill, depending on the mass of the floats.

From Andrew Swanson
Posted February 22, 2004 at 6:45 PM
The E-stop buttons are supposed to automatically stop the floats. There's usually at least one button on every corner of the float. For the princess float, I believe there's one button on every corner of each unit, so at least twelve buttons, but there may be more-I'm not sure.

One of the main benefits for them is the show-stops that MK parades are known for; 100's of kids flood the street when the floats stop, and when it's time for them to step off again, one may be in a driver's blind spot.

It's the responsibility of the CM's on foot to press the E-stop as soon as the show stop begins. Once the show stop is over, they do not release the e-stop until all the guests on their side are once again safely on the viewing side of the rope.

Although I never was involved with Dream Come True, I do have familiarity with spectromagic. The DCT floats are bigger than the SPM floats, but I have seen the SPM floats stop on a dime when necessary.

Since I'm not currently a CM (looking forward to seasonal return though) all I can do is give the facts that I do know from prior experience, so I hope what I've said clears some questions up for you guys.
~Andrew~

From Robert Niles
Posted February 22, 2004 at 6:28 PM
Thanks, Andrew.

From Matt Rogers
Posted February 25, 2004 at 6:23 PM
Maybe some safety divices aren't activated until the floats are on the parade route?

From Matthew Woodall
Posted February 25, 2004 at 10:59 PM
I doubt that is the case, but if it is...that would just be stupid! That would be completely stupid! The most dangerous time for anything like a parade (especially parades!) is during the chaos is happening behind the scenes as everyone tries to get organized. Once they're on the parade route, the hazards are knowable and predictable.

From Matt Rogers
Posted February 27, 2004 at 1:58 PM
You have a point.But the floats follow a line of sensors along the route. This happened when the floats are being organized into the correct order. Right? Are there floats moving around other floats? Do the line of sensors go backstage? Can someone give me info on the whole system?

From Andrew Swanson
Posted February 27, 2004 at 8:01 PM
The princess float was on Splash Road, the service road next to and behind Splash Mountain that connects backstage to the park. The floats were in the correct order, as the first four had already stepped off. (That's why the first four units had to go on and do the ENTIRE parade, since they were already out in guest areas)

The floats are rarely moving out of sequence; when the parade steps down they simply drive to high-bay in the same order where they park in the same order as the parade. Then when it's time for the next parade, they're already lined up and just roll out of high-bay in the correct order.

Regarding the sensors-again the main purpose of those guys is to control the audio and special FX. The audio must be timed perfectly or the music the various floats put out won't line up properly. If that happens and you're standing in between two units, the tempo and beat won't match.

That's bad show, and it's also confusing for the dancers. Again the computers AND sensors on the floats really don't control their motion-That's up to the drivers, who are trustfully being guided by the dispatch-coordinators (The people with the flashlights)

The one question that keeps coming back among people I know (both those who were there when it happened and those like myself who are currently on casual leave) is why was he near the princess float, when he should have been near the Peter Pan float and how did his fall get him under the float?

I'm constantly talking to friends who are still currently employed by WDE and most of us agree that we may never know everything, unfortunately.

With that said, and considering I can only take what I do know from past experience along with the facts and rumors, all I can do right now is assume. I'd prefer to only share the actual facts I have from when I worked there and not add any unconfirmed commentary. So if anyone has any question regarding facts on the parades, just ask and I'll do my best to answer them. But please don't ask me to start making things up.

And if anyone on these boards is still currently cast in DCT, perhaps you could help shed some light no this.
~Andrew~

From Matt Rogers
Posted February 29, 2004 at 6:18 PM
Thanks Andrew,
Matt

I've been thinking that Universal only has about two parades a year to prevent this kind of accident. Does anyone agree?

From Mark Bolton
Posted March 3, 2004 at 11:58 AM
It's Mar 3rd and I'm just reading about this accident. I'm not surprised at all. WDW has'nt seemed to be as safety concious as it has been in the past. Mike is too interested in the almighty dollar. I'm really surprised he let this get out to the media, I guess it slipped through his fingers. I'm no longer a CM, but I miss everyone I worked with, just not the leaders in California.

From Matt Rogers
Posted March 5, 2004 at 4:21 PM
Is there some kind of law that a park must report an accident? If there is, Eisner had to report it. If there isn't, he messed up by letting this slip out. Three accidents (Disneyland CA, Disneyland Tokyo, and Magic Kingdom) in six months. Not near as good of a record as Universal. Disney can't compete like this.

From Adrian Walker
Posted March 7, 2004 at 1:53 AM
My heart goes out to the family who suffered the brunt of this tragic incident.

From Andrew Swanson
Posted December 28, 2004 at 1:26 PM
The L.A. Times reported today, that four people were injured; one hospitalized Monday night after coming into contact with a Genie float during Disneyland's Christmas Parade. It is not clear how the accident occured or who was at fault, but a repeat of the February's original incident sounds possible.

I will post additional information if it becomes available, the L.A. Times and MiceAge are also following the situation

From Tonya Gaddy
Posted December 28, 2004 at 7:22 PM
That's horrible. I thought Disney had the floats monitored so this wouldn't happen?

From sabien minteer
Posted January 22, 2005 at 2:56 PM
this is so upsetting...i feel sick to my stomach...all my prayers to javier and his beautifull family which he was so proud of...i knew javier...i worked at disney for 5 years,and worked in characters for 3 of those 5 years...i met javier while working in camp minnie-mickey, and worked with him a number of times in showcase's at epcot...my friend and roommate Gerrardo Burgos was especially close with javier, and i'm pretty sure he knows nothing of what has happened(he's been in San Juan, P.R. for the past years). Javier loved to laugh, but most often his laughter was held tight, chained in a smile...su tu en los ala's de los a'ngels hermano!...ahora mosca!
god bless

From Lyssa Dear
Posted May 17, 2007 at 9:16 AM
I know this is really late but I wanted to share with any who already posted. I was there that day, very involved, and I do not believe in sharing the events that happened in a mass message out of respect. I do want to set some things straight.
This quote,
"Javier was walking up from the Production Center backstage at Step off right next to the floats, waiting his turn for the float. He tripped over the railroad tracks and landed in between the Cinderella globe and the Belle and Beast globe. The girls in the globes saw him fall and began pushing the e-stop button which would have prevented the float from moving. The e-stops didn't work and
Javier was pulled under the float and died instantly."
,is incorrect. It was the Ariel float and the Princesses did not know what happened until they saw a part of the character costume. They did not press the estop button but one of Cindy's mice friends did. It is not ment to stop the float it shuts off the drive system to alert the driver something is wrong with one of the characters. Also he did not trip, he was waving to us. It was an accident and ALL of those there did all that they possibly could to help Javier. I agree with those of you who want to keep the magic and I believe it would be Javier's wishes too. A lot of changes have occured to help keep the cast safe and a lot of those involved are still close friends.
Please send your thoughts and prayers to Javier and his family.

From Jaivion Williams
Posted May 17, 2007 at 1:28 PM
wow this is horrible

From Anthony Murphy
Posted May 18, 2007 at 8:46 AM
Yeah, this happened more than three years ago, but its always appreciated to get an eyewitness account of what happened!

I would highly suggest you filling out an accident report so it will stay around for awhile, but I am not sure if you can fill one out for a parade.

From Jaivion Williams
Posted May 18, 2007 at 1:58 PM
i remember once i was told that disney no longer has parades while it's raining bc a charater slipped and was ran over by a float.

From Lyssa Dear
Posted May 20, 2007 at 10:07 AM
They now have a rainy day cavalcade parade if it rains. Its pretty funny to see and the characters love splashing the guests.

From Dan Babbitt
Posted May 20, 2007 at 9:06 PM
Hey Disney, actually plans for rainy days calling them it simply the "Rain Parade" or "Rain Show" for fireworks. Usually parades and fireworks shows last what 15 to 25 minutes these are vary short maybe 10 minutes depending on the storm. They have to have the firework shows b/c they usually make the fireworks ready way before they actually call it off so they have to let the fireworks go. The parade they usually are small and really no dancing by costumed characters.

From Mark Fairleigh
Posted May 21, 2007 at 7:47 PM
This is tragic. My condolensces to Javier's family and friends.

From Wanda Marin
Posted December 1, 2007 at 12:45 AM
Hello everyone, I am Javier's sister and I will like to thank everyone for their prayers and their condolences. I know is been over 3 years since we lost him but is still feels like it was yesterday. It is amazing how many wonderful things I learn about my brother now that he is gone. One thing I know for sure is how much Javier loved his job. The last time I saw him (3 days before his death) he was showing me a little dance he was puting together for when he works at cheff Mickeys. I remember myself asking him "How can you dance with two left feet?" and his responce was "well I am a dog I am suppose to have two of them" :) He was funny indeed, and even though I miss him so much I do thank God for given me the blessing of having him as my brother. I am convince by now that we'll never find out the truth about what really happened. All I pray for this to never ever happen again to no one else. Thanks again to all and may God bless every single one of you.

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