Woman Dies After Disney World Ride

Caution sign at "Mission: Space" ride, Walt Disney World, Florida, 2005/5/5
AP
A 49-year-old woman died a day after becoming ill after riding "Mission: Space" at Walt Disney World - the second death in less than a year related to the Epcot ride so intense that it has motion sickness bags and several riders have been treated for chest pain.

The woman became ill after riding the rocketship ride Tuesday afternoon and was transported to Celebration Hospital, where her condition worsened and she died, Walt Disney World spokeswoman Kim Prunty said in a statement.

The $100 million Epcot space ride, one of Disney World's most popular, was closed in June after the death of a 4-year-old boy, the son of a United Nations worker from Uganda, but reopened after company engineers concluded it was operating normally.

The Florida state Bureau of Fair Rides Inspection has been notified and will monitor an inspection of the ride, Disney officials said.

"We have closed the attraction to reconfirm proper operation of the ride," Prunty said.

Disney officials told state inspectors Wednesday that the woman felt dizzy and nauseated after getting off the ride, and may have suffered from high blood pressure and other health problems, Terence McElroy, a state agriculture spokesman, told the Orlando Sentinel.

The park officials also said the ride had been operating normally until it was shut down Wednesday afternoon, McElroy told the newspaper.

One warning sign posted in 2004 in front of the ride read: "For safety you should be in good health, and free from high blood pressure, heart, back or neck problems, motion sickness or other conditions that can be aggravated by this adventure."

It spins riders in a centrifuge that subjects them to twice the normal force of gravity, and is so intense that some riders have been taken to the hospital with chest pain.

Daudi Bamuwamye, who died in June, did meet the ride's minimum height limit, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

An autopsy concluded that the boy succumbed to an irregular heartbeat linked to natural causes. People with the condition - idiopathic myocardial hypertrophy with fibroelastosis of the left ventricle - are at risk for sudden death throughout their lives, especially in physically or emotionally stressful situations, medical examiner Dr. Jan Garavaglia wrote.

Two adults in poor health and a 12-year-old Virginia girl died last year at Walt Disney World, out of the millions who visit the park each year.

In February, a 70-year-old man was injured while attempting to board the park's Peter Pan ride. A 16-year-old British girl who suffered cardiac arrest July 12 after riding the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at the park was still in critical condition when she was flown home by air ambulance in August.