Mission: Space to offer milder version


#1

I’ve just heard a preliminary report that beginning this summer Disney will offer Epcot guests the option of riding a milder version of Mission: Space. In the milder version, the centrifuge reportedly will be turned off to eliminate the unpleasant aftereffects for people who are prone to motion sickness or have other health issues.

Two people have died, the most recent last month, and countless others have complained of feeling ill after riding Mission: Space, which opened in the summer of 2003.

Obviously, if two queues are created – one for the regular version and one for the milder version – it will affect wait times and ride capacity. I’ll post more as it becomes available.

Here’s the latest update of the Orlando Sentinel story that includes a little more information:

Disney plans gentler Mission: Space
Word of a less-intense version of the thrill ride follows 2 deaths and many complaints.
By Scott Powers and Beth Kassab
Sentinel Staff Writers

May 3, 2006

Less than a month after a second person died after riding Mission: Space, Walt Disney World is reworking its hazardous but popular Epcot ride to offer a Mission: Space-lite option for some people.

The thrill ride simulates a spaceship launch, flight and landing with a combination of centrifugal and other motion forces and audio and video “virtual-reality” effects. There are four separate centrifuge systems in the ride building, each with 10 pods that can hold four riders each.

Disney announced Tuesday that it will turn off the centrifuge on at least one system, so that riders who don’t want, or should not try, the spinning may still ride.

The new option would be available by early summer.

A company spokeswoman said the change is not being made because of the April 12 death of a German tourist, Hiltrud Blumel, the death last summer of a 4-year-old boy, Daudi Bamuwamye, or numerous other illness complaints.

Instead, Disney is characterizing the nonspinning ride as an exciting new option.

“By offering a second adventure, we hope to broaden the appeal of Mission: Space and enable even more guests to experience the attraction,” Al Weiss, president of Walt Disney World Resort, said in a prepared statement.

Weiss was not available to be interviewed Tuesday evening. Nor were Walt Disney World Vice President of Epcot Brad Rex, or Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chief Safety Officer Greg Hale.

Mission: Space has drawn 11.8 million people since it opened in the summer of 2003 and is a favorite of many.

Kim and R.J. Maurice, a sister and brother from Jacksonville, are among them. After they rode it Tuesday, Kim Maurice, 21, said she would ride it 30 more times if she could.

But Mission: Space also draws the most complaints of serious illnesses among all Disney World rides. And it is the only one that includes motion-sickness bags. Besides the two deaths, more than 130 riders have sought medical attention, including 10 reported with serious health effects, since the ride opened.

When asked whether the change was being made because of recent events, Disney spokeswoman Kim Prunty responded, “The answer is no.”

“We are doing this for three reasons,” Prunty said. “To enable even more guests to experience the attraction; to provide an alternative that may be more suited for some guests, such as those who are prone to motion sickness or have other conditions; and to further encourage all guests to carefully consider and heed posted health warnings.”

The ride is safe as designed for people who heed the health warnings, she said. People with cardiovascular problems including hypertension, or who are prone to motion sickness, are warned away by 13 signs, plus video and audio warnings along the ride’s queue.

Since the April 12 death, Mission: Space lines consistently have been far shorter than those at Epcot’s two other major rides, Soarin’ and Test Track. Tuesday evening, the posted wait time for Mission: Space was five minutes, compared with 40 for Soarin’ and 30 for Test Track, a typical spread in recent weeks.

Without the centrifugal force – which the military and NASA have used for decades to help simulate flight and spaceflight – the ride would be more like Star Tours at Disney-MGM Studios or Back to the Future at Universal Studios. Both simulate flight experiences with rocking, rising and falling motions and video and audio.

Disney is still working out the operational details, Prunty said.

Other rides offer options. Many roller coasters, for example, allow riders to choose the front car. Typically, the queue splits just before the boarding area.

Prunty said Mission: Space warning signs will make the choices clear.

Many Epcot guests were considering the current warnings Tuesday, and some said they would think about riding the alternative if it were available. Kirk and Cosette Steehler of Erie, Pa., sat out the ride while two of their children rode.

They weren’t worried about serious problems but said they didn’t want to get sick. Kirk Steehler said he has gotten sick before on simulator rides.

“If it was toned down, I’d probably go on it,” Cosette Steehler said.

Theme-park analysts and ride-safety proponents welcomed the change.

“It sounds like a reasonable step for a self-regulated park to take,” said Kathy Fackler, founder and president of SaferParks, a California-based organization crusading for independent ride-safety reviews.

But some said they think Disney is reacting to the deaths and illnesses.

“I think it’s because of the problems they’ve had with it,” said Steve Baker, president of Baker Leisure Group, an Orlando-based theme-park consulting firm. "So I guess they [Disney officials] have got to, without scuttling the whole ride, try something, and make the liability less, to say, ‘We’ve gone to great lengths to offer you a safe ride. What else are we going to do?’ "

Nationally, some rides, notably The Rattler at Fiesta Texas, in San Antonio, and Son of Beast, at Kings Island, in Ohio, were changed after injury complaints.

But Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services in Cincinnati, said he knows of no park that ever offered a less-intense alternative following complaints.

Speigel said he thought the second option is a “logical extension.” He said it should encourage more people with health concerns to take the warnings seriously, because they’ll have more choices than just to ride or not to ride.

"I would imagine that if there was a question, and somebody realistically addressed that, they will stop and say, ‘Well, maybe I will take the less intense ride,’ " he said.


#2

hmm …interesting. Thanks for the information. I still won’t ride it again, but my DD would be interested in this. She would deinfately want to skip this new slower version…she likes it the way it is. Please do post more as you see it PH. Thanks again for the info!


#3

Thats extremely interesting parkhopper.
Thanks for that update.


#4

I love that idea! I’m completely unable to handle the centrifuge- but I would love to be able to experience the rest of it again!


#5

Interesting…I’m still gonna opt for the regular version though:)


#6

HHMMM!

I kind of figured something was going to have to give, since the last two incidents. I didn’t really have that idea though. I may be interested to try the new version, I’m pretty sure I’d never go on the centrifuge ride again!


#7

Very interesting! We’d ride the milder ride!

Thanks, PH!


#8

Thanks for the information Park Hopper, keep us posted.


#9

I would try the milder ride.


#10

Here’s an update from the Orlando Sentinel:

Disney to tame Mission: Space
Park to offer a toned-down version of ride for visitors

By Scott Powers and Beth Kassab
Sentinel Staff Writers

May 2, 2006

Less than a month after a second person died after riding Mission: Space, Walt Disney World is reworking its hazardous but popular Epcot ride to offer a Mission: Space lite for people who shouldn’t or don’t want to try the full experience.

Mission: Space simulates a spaceship launch, flight and landing by combining centrifugal and other motions with audio and video effects. There are four separate centrifuge systems in the building and at least one of them would be turned off so that riders experienced rocking motions and the other effects, but not the spinning.

Disney announced the new ride option would be available by “early summer” for people who chose not to ride the more intense version either because they don’t want to or because they have health problems that prevent them from doing so.

Disney officials said the change is not being made because of the April 12 death of a German tourist, Hiltrud Blümel, or the death last summer of a 4-year-old boy, Daudi Bamuwamye, or because of numerous other illness complaints.

Instead, Disney is characterizing the change as an exciting new option.

“By offering a second adventure, we hope to broaden the appeal of Mission: Space and enable even more guests to experience the attraction,” Al Weiss, president of Walt Disney World Resort, said in a prepared statement.

The ride has drawn 11.7 million people since it opened in the summer of 2003 and is a favorite of many. But it’s also the Disney ride that draws the most complaints and serious illnesses, and is the only ride at Disney that includes motion sickness bags. Besides the two deaths, more than 130 riders have sought medical attention, including 10 reported for suffering serious health effects.

When asked if the change was being made because of recent events, Disney spokeswoman Kim Prunty responded, "The answer is no.

“We are doing this for three reasons: to enable even more guests to experience the attraction; to provide an alternative that may be more suited for some guests, such as those who are prone to motion sickness or have other conditions; and to further encourage all guests to carefully consider and heed posted health warnings.”

The move is being welcomed by theme park analysts and ride safety proponents.

“It sounds like a reasonable step for a self-regulated park to take,” said Kathy Fackler, founder and president of SaferParks, a California-based organization crusading for independent ride safety reviews.


#11

Great!!! I’d never be able to do the regular version. But I would like to see the ride (and push the buttons :happy:). I’m all for the mild version!!


#12

Probably a good thing, but without the g-forces, I imagine the mild ride will be about as exciting as the old Mission to the Moon and Mission to Mars attractions.


#13

I think Disney made great decision. Although my family and I love the ride the way it is, this is a great alternative for people. It will be also great for people that can’t decide whether or not to ride the original. They can ride the milder version to get an idea of what the ride is about and make a better decision.


#14

I hope that this means the extreme M:S will be extreme…4G’s would be extreme :mickey:


#15

I’m glad that Disney’s really taking the matter seriously, but at the same time keeping a regular queue open (which I’ll still ride), which says Mission: Space isn’t responsible for the two tragedies that resulted in death or else the ride would shut down. but we’ll help riders enjoy the best we can.


#16

Thanks for the interesting update. I know I would go on the milder version. I did M:S once, and didn’t feel ill afterwards, but I don’t think I will do it again. I hope they accomplish the new version by the time we go in June. Keep up posted.


#17

I hope this works out. I will still ride the normal version. In fact, I wish they would kick it up a few notches!!!


#18

Firstly, Darth, Chloe is looking as ravishing as ever. :heart:

My dh will certainly be happy about the scaled down version. I’ve made the decision not to ride M:S again. It was a wonderful experience, but I don’t think I need to repeat it.


#19

You do??? Do you like feeling sick to your stomach, or does it have NO affect on you?


#20

I would do the mild version, Brenda will still ride the other but not me. :mickey: