Dark Disney Part II: Six More Disturbing Tales from the Happiest Place on Earth

For many kids and adults alike, Disneyland and Walt Disney World are considered to be the happiest places on earth. Who doesn't like to relax on some whimsical rides and top the day off with a Dole Whip?
Yet, some of the more dark events in Disney's history hide just below the surface. And no, I'm not
talking about the rumour that Walt Disney is cryogenically frozen under there (he isn't, btw). Dark Disney Part I has been one of my most popular posts to date, so I wanted to give you guys some more of the good stuff! Let's get us some more Dark Disney, fam!
Or just hide in the blanket with this lil' guy!

1. Matterhorn Bobsleds Death

Ah, the Matterhorn Bobsleds. Majestic, fantastic, and... dangerous? Apparently.

In 1984, 48-year-old Dolly Regina Young was riding the Matterhorn Bobsleds when she was
ejected from the vehicle and struck by an oncoming bobsled (and
decapitated). Four years later, her family settled with Disney, after reportedly asking for $5,000,000. The settlement was for an undisclosed amount, so in other words, a lot. In their legal filings, the Young family had alleged that Cast Members did not adequately ensure Dolly’s seatbelt was properly fastened before sending her hurtling to her doom.

After this tragic event, Disney changed the type of seat belts used on this ride. Disney claimed that this change-out was not due to this incident, but because their supplier had gone out of business. If I'm being honest, that sounds about authentic as the cheese sauce we get with our Mickey pretzels. 

2. Losing a Finger at Disney
Apparently, people have lost their limbs in their bid to have a magical day at Disney. Yikes!

In 2001, a 6-year-old girl lost two-thirds of her finger while playing with a toy rifle at Disneyland's Tom Sawyer's Island. As she tried to climb down from the turret leading up to the toy rifle, her finger got caught and was yanked off! Priscilla Figueroa was rushed to the UCI Medical Center, but doctors were unable to reattach the finger.
This is where Disney should have stepped up, but failed to do so. Due to a legal loophole, Disney chose not to report the incident. This just goes to show that Disney isn't immune to bad publicity or bad decisions. 
3. The Death of a Disney Technician

It's a whole new world at Disney. Usually that's a good thing, but in 2003, not so much!

Christopher Bowman, 36, suffered severe head injuries in 2003 after falling 60 feet while testing special effects at the Hyperion Theater Stage for the stage version of Aladdin. He never regained consciousness. Poor dude was just trying to punch in his 9 to 5 and get the hell out of there. 
Disney was investigated by the state Division of Occupational Safety and Heath for six months. They were fined $18,350 for failing to provide Bowman with a safe work platform. In addition, they were fined $350 because Bowman was not wearing a safety harness. Holy violations, Batman. 

Silly string, indeed.

4. Cinderella’s Castle Moat Drowning

Toddlers - one of life's greatest gifts (to some, at least), as well as life's greatest responsibility. 

Joel Goode, a young boy visiting Walt Disney World in 1977, drowned in the moat after he climbed over a fence. He drowned in five feet of water. Although his parents sued Disney over the incident, their settlement was reduced as they were found to be partially at fault in the death of their son. One juror did admit that “common sense tells you don’t climb over the fence. She [Joel’s mother] testified he couldn’t swim. She knew there was water there.” Given this testimony, it’s no wonder the family was found 50 percent at fault. In 1985, jurors ultimately decided to award the family $1,5000,000 due to Disney's negligence in the incident.

Unfortunately, this happens a lot, all over the world. Kids are their own worst enemy, so parents and caregivers need to be vigilant to cut down on the possibility of things like this happening. 

5. One Time Disneyland Promoted Racism

In 2013, the Black Family sued Disneyland after the White Rabbit park character refused to interact with their dark-skinned children, but showed no issues in interacting with children of a lighter skin tone. Elijah Black, the family's 9-year-old, said that the White Rabbit had turned his back on his brother and kept flicking his hand off when he would try to hold it. However, as they watched nearby, a white family came over and were showered with affection by the character. Naturally, the children felt devastated and upset about the interaction.
Not considered to be terribly PC in a world where social media is rampant, this was going to need to be shut down fast. After showing park officials pictures of the White Rabbit cold-shouldering their kids while giving affection to the lighter-skinned family, they were offered VIP passes worth
about $500 to sign a settlement. The family refused. Obviously, this was a very troubling tale, indeed. 

Overall, Disney is a company renowned for its dedication to providing inclusive service to everyone, regardless of gender, skin, ability, age, or anything else (the bus service as it pertains to individuals with mobility issues shows their dedication to making sure everyone can participate fully in their holiday, for instance). It's really unfortunate when a Cast Member turns out to be a poor cultural fit for values that the company tries to uphold. Sometimes, you just cannot make a square peg fit in a round hole.
6. Suicides at Disneyland Paris
This next section is a testament to the importance of working conditions.
 In 2010, two employees of the park committed suicide. And as recently as 2013, a cast member doused himself in gasoline and tried to light himself on fire, with his colleague barely managing to keep him from becoming the Wicker Man at the last second.

Although the National Union of Autonomous Unions (UNSA) has argued deteriorating working conditions, lack of communication, and harsh discipline were to blame for the suicides, a Disney spokesperson has denied this. Why? After an 'internal investigation', no connection was found between the suicides and working conditions of the park. Tell that to the guy who wrote in his suicide note that he did not want to "return to Mickey's House."

Although these are some of the sadder and more scary events in Disney's history, keep in mind that every day, families create magic at these parks that will last a lifetime. Disney's service is renowned as some of the best in the world. As long as you are keeping cognizant of where you are and hazards around you, you can enjoy the magic worry-free on your next Disney holiday!

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