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MousePlanet Mailbag for August 25, 2005

Compiled by Stephanie Wien, Mailbag editor

We receive considerable feedback regarding our site. Although we cannot publish them all, the following may be of interest to our readers. Do you have any comments or questions? Contact us at the Mailbag here.

In “Happy Birthday MousePlanet,” our July 19 article in honor of Disneyland's 50th anniversary and MousePlanet's 5th, MousePlanet staff members shared their Disney memories. Some of our readers have also written in with their memories and birthday wishes.

If you would like to share your Disney memories with us, send us the following information to our mailbag here:

  1. Impressions of Disney: What is your first recollection of Disney that you remember, or that made an impression for you?
  2. First Trip: What was special about your first trip to a Disney park? Does not have to be Disneyland, but if not, please specify. How old were you, and who did you go with?
  3. Most Memorable Visit: What is your singlemost memorable visit, time, or incident related to a Disney park visit?
  4. On MousePlanet: Please share with our readers your thoughts on MousePlanet and/or your involvement with it as we celebrate our Web site's 5th birthday!

Feedback for Mark Goldhaber

In his August 8, 2005 Walt Disney World Update (link), Mark asked if it was important that MousePlanet continue covering deaths of guests at Disney parks. Here is a sampling of the responses we received:

Susan Dyl writes:

I agree that not all incidents at Walt Disney World or Disneyland may actually be news. But, when I see a report on the news about Walt Disney World or Disneyland I say to my family—“ I'll go check MousePlanet for the true story.” I appreciate having access to the truth.

Alisa Olson writes:

Dear Mark, thank you for your article in MousePlanet today re: all the latest “mishaps” at Disney World. The reason I use the word “mishaps” is because these, along with past issues at the Disney parks, are matters where people should have used common sense. I am 36 and I know my limitations on going on rides, especially since I am prone to back and neck problems, as well as migraines. This is why when we went to Walt Disney World in 2003, I made the common sense decision not to ride Mission: Space with my husband and our friends. Once they got off the ride, my husband advised me that it was too much for him and that his friend Gary, who is one that nothing bothers him, was also feeling a bit out of sorts after riding. It seems that people don't take the time to read the warning signs that are up by all Disney rides, and most importantly, get a grasp on any health issues they may have had in the past or on the day they plan to go on any rides.

I want to know all I can when a ride malfunctions or when it is operator error but if someone has chosen to ignore safety or health issues at the park(s), then no, I don't want to hear about that. The only other option would be to release minimal info until the facts are in. The reason we do hear about all of it is because it is Disney and is supposed to be the “Happiest Place on Earth.” Then, when we do hear the news about a death, except for the one on Big Thunder in 2003 (that's the first one that came to mind), everyone is extremely quick to blame Disney. We should have all the facts first before making our final decision.

I think Disney's focus, especially after the California Screamin' accident, should be on thoroughly and completely training the ride's cast members and not allow them to operate the ride without the backwards and forwards understanding of all the procedures, etc. I will never stop my love for Disney or its theme parks, and this will be the only year we may not make it to Disneyland, and for the most part, I feel safe whenever I am there.

Jeremy Muse writes:

For me personally, the knowledge of people dying in the parks is quite important to me. Not because I want to get into other peoples lives, but more to emphasize that Disney World is a theme park, and people should be careful. I will be returning next summer with my son, who will be 2 years old. It's good to remember to keep him full of fluids, if that might have been the case. Although, it was something I didn't think about until somebody mentioned it on the boards. Disney theme parks are always places where we feel safe. My mom will only go on roller coasters at Disney theme parks. But it is a theme park, and just because it's Disney, doesn't mean we should put our guard down. It's just a gentle reminder to follow the rules, and to be careful. So my vote is yes, it is important to this reader.

Bob Becker writes:

Seems to me that the media no longer wants to represent real news stories over something that is more sensationalism for their ratings.

Susan Hunter writes:

You asked whether you should continue to highlight tragic incidents at Walt Disney World and I would like to see you continue to report them, as I like to know what is going on. Many thanks for keeping me well informed as to what is going on at Walt Disney World while we are so far away in the U.K. We are DVC members and like to know what is the latest.

Bryan writes:

Yes, it is important to know what is going on the resort property in relationship to recent incidents that have occurred. I do not want to be insensitive to the actual incidents, but this streak of accidents in one month can have an adverse effect. Much like the whole “nipplegate” debacle two years ago, this could cause a resurgence in safety at the parks, despite the fact that none of the deaths were related to the operation of the ride (at least, so far). If results are shown in any of the cases that what happened was ride related, Disney may come under fire from investigative teams; Rides could be toned down, starting with Mission: Space (which is a travesty for fans, guests and the company which spent millions to make it the attraction it is). Add to that the accident this past month at DCA, the term “Disney” and “Death/Injury” has been heard too often in the same sentence.

Mary Jo Salerno writes:

I am glad that you report on the deaths of tourists and cast members at Disney parks because, as you stated, most of them are deaths that could have happened to those people anywhere and have nothing to do with negligence on the part of the parks; however, every time my elderly mother-in-law hears in passing that someone has died at a Disney Park my husband and I have to brace ourselves for a speech that our Disney trips (which we take frequently) are not safe. By having the entire facts provided by your website, I can immediately assure her that the park is (generally) not at fault and assure her that we are as safe at Disney as we are at home. I am also glad that if Disney is at fault you will report that too.

Michelle from Gatlinburg, Tennessee, writes:

I don't believe that we should consider health-related deaths news. We don't hear on the news every time someone in New York has a stroke, drowns etc., therefore, we shouldn't hear it if it happens in Orlando/Kissimmee. Disney posts warnings at the beginning of all rides; people should be responsible enough to follow them.

Steve writes:

Of course it's important to know about deaths in the parks. The diver was only 16 years old. Why was a 16-year-old doing such a hazardous job? Doesn't Florida have child labor laws? Disney should have known better than employing a minor for such dangerous work—even through a sub contractor. The girl from England had no known ailments before riding the ride. How can what happened on the Tower of Terror be her fault? Same with the boy who died on Mission: Space. If there is a death due to riding a ride, then of course it should be reported, and it is, by responsible journalists. Is it necessary for a fan site like MousePlanet to report? Probably not. I don't come here to read the news, just information about Disney. However, I think it does deserve mention on the fan sites like yours.

Steven Carter writes:

Whenever I hear something on the news about an injury or a death at either Disneyland or Walt Disney World I come to your site for the real story.

The truth is thousands of people die of natural causes every day and no one hears about them, but let the same thing happen to them at a Disney resort and it is front page news. Does the media think that Disney has this special power to protect people from bad things, and when something bad happens has Disney failed in protecting you with those magic powers? Most of the recent incidents are things that could have and would have happened no matter where the individual was. It just happened to be at a Disney theme park so that makes it news worthy.

Rest assured everything humanly possible was done for all these individuals by the Reedy Creek fire department paramedics. I had the pleasure of seeing these men and women in action on a couple of occasions and they are the closest thing to a magic wand you are going to get.

Ginnell Halstad writes:

I worked at Disneyland from 1989 through 1991, at the French Market and Hungry Bear, and while there were a few natural deaths in the park during this time, they were not hyped in the media. Two heart attacks, a stroke, and I saw several cases of extreme heat exhaustion, in which the guests had to be cared for by paramedics. There was even a rumor about a cast member assault, that happened inside the Haunted Mansion. The deaths are tragedies but they are not “newsworthy.”

The only time though, that I remember a story making the news, was when the little girl was hit by a stray bullet, that came from outside the park (which happened after I worked there, if I'm remembering correctly). Then in 1993 my sister was severely injured while working at the Stage Door Cafˇ—who heard about that? No one, unless they worked with her, or at the Garden Grove hospital, that evening.

I don't quite understand what's going on, but this kind of tabloid reporting is all the rage nowadays. Next we are going to be seeing Brad and Angelina, adopting Lilo, in front of Cinderella's castle, in Us magazine. While Britney is reported eating her third Dole Whip in a row, while talking about almost losing her baby after riding Space Mountain, on the cover of In Touch.

Leslie Meister writes:

I do appreciate reading about happenings in the parks, whether they be unfortunate illnesses or an everyday update re closures. I look to MousePlanet for an unbiased account of what's going on in the news, whether it's the National news or your weekly updates. Yes, I said unbiased. I have always found that the writers on MousePlanet and the moderators on MousePad take special pains to present information straightforwardly—specific information is given regarding my favorite Walt Disney World, and other Disney related parks, without the feeling that sensationalist journalism is involved. I've always found that you, and the other MP writers, present the facts and then let me decide about what happened. You don't “cover up” any fault that lies with Disney, if indeed there is any fault to be attached. Also, there is news that's presented that I would never read in any other media.

I totally agree with your presented view about the question of the deaths in Disney being newsworthy. I also agree about the numbers of visitors versus the number of problems view. But, because I agree with that view is why I like to be informed about any problems in Walt Disney World. I like to be “in the know” to combat naysayers who sneer about all the problems in Walt Disney World, based solely on those 15-second news blurbs. A childish attitude you say? Well, maybe. But I have always been interested in the minutiae associated with Walt Disney World, and this interest continues on with what's happening in the news and in the parks.

Carolyn Haderspeck writes:

As a Disney fan I am always curious about any news that comes out of Disney World, good, bad, or indifferent. Our family is so crazy about Disney that any bit of news is a conversation piece in our household. I look to MousePlanet for the very best in news, tips I can use, and everything in-between. Anyway, I think the questions you pose in your article are more like statements I would agree with. Not all deaths on the property are newsworthy because it is not unreasonable that there would be a few deaths each year given the amount of people that go to Walt Disney World. Life and death are going to happen no matter where you are, even if you're on vacation. It is unfortunate that someone dies because of a stroke while they are there, but when it's time to go, it's time to go. I don't need to read about every one of them. I am mostly interested in the accidents or deaths that are caused by the negligence of Disney employees. Which you said are the ones you obviously report to your readers. When a headline-grabber news item is reported, the first thing I think about is, was it something Disney did or didn't do or was it something the guest did or didn't do? I like to read the updates on reported incidents because I have been to Disney enough to have seen quite a few scenarios that could have been serious. And most of them are the stupidity of the guests. Accidents happen, but they can also be prevented.

Jim writes:

I agree that incidents related to park operations are newsworthy. Other incidents, while tragic and certainly of the utmost importance to family and friends, really are not newsworthy in the context of the Disney operation.

It might also be helpful for an article to provide some context. On a per 100,000 guest basis how does Disney compare to Universal, Six Flags, Sea World in both operation, non-operation and security related incidents (minor, serious, death). How does that compare to comparably sized cities?

Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Mark here.


Do you have specific questions about an upcoming trip to Disneyland, Walt Disney World or another park, or do you need help with your trip planning? While you can contact one of the columnists, we encourage you to join our special MousePlanet community on our MousePad discussion board. There, you will find like-minded Disney park fans who can try to help answer your questions.


Did you read something interesting (good or bad) on MousePlanet, or here in the Mailbag? We'd love to hear from you! Send your comments to the Mailbag here.

We welcome your questions and comments, but keep in mind that all questions submitted to MousePlanet become property of this Web site. Letters of interest to the readership may be published, and may include your full name unless you specifically request that your last name not be published. They may be edited for length or style and in consideration of a family readership. Questions may also be quoted on other parts of the site as well.



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