Monday, April 25, 2011

Serious accident at DLP Big Thunder Mountain - Five guests injured, one seriously hurt - [ Updated 4/26 ]

A serious accident happened today at Disneyland Paris Big Thunder Mountain. Five guests were injured, including one seriously, when one of the fiber glass rocks which moves during the lift C fell down, hitting the guests in the train.

According to DLP the faux rock in fact didn't fell directly on the guests. Instead, the rock fell on the track, was hit by BTM locomotive and flying pieces of the rock then hit the five guests aboard the train.

Last news are saying that a piece of fiber glass and wood fell at about 2:50 pm on one of the train wagon. A 38 years old man was seriously hit on his head and was evacuated by helicopter at the Beaujon hospital in the town of Clichy-sur-Seine. The man supposedly has a cranial traumatism which can be really serious.

UPDATED 4/25: A source close to the inquiry said that it was too soon to say if the man will recover but on the other hand a DLP spokeswoman just announced that the man is apparently "out of danger". She also said that Disneyland Paris was taking care of his relatives.

Four others people were slightly hurt and been looked after on location, in the park. Apparenly they were released back in the park after, which would mean they are not too badly hurt. Of course Big Thunder Mountain was closed immediately and will very probably remain closed tomorrow if not the next days while police and park can conduct an inquiry and determine that the ride is safe.

UPDATED 4/26: Considering that BTM was supposed to close for a big refurbishment on May 9 until May 27 chances are that the attraction will not re-open before May 9. Also, please don't attack DLP in your comments about the park's maintenance. I can assure you that DLP is trying to do the best maintenance that they can on the parks, and one of my last update let you know about DLP big refurbishment program which already began. Right now we don't know exactly the reason of the accident and may be the inquiry will determine that it came from a maintenance problem, or may be not. Until then we must give to DLP management the benefit of the doubt as no one knows exactly the reason of the accident. To understand better how the management of DLP is complex, please read my latest article HERE.

UPDATED 4/26: According to a DLP Cast member working at the Silver Spur Steakhouse restaurant "the emergency team reacted extremely quickly. In less than five minutes Frontierland backstage was full of emergency doctors, firemen, police men, etc... and we can say that the emergency teams did a great job" Always according to him who saw everything in Frontierland backstage "the crania traumatism of the guest seriously injured was not a small one". He also heard - before the accident happened - "a guest eating at the restaurant asking if it was normal that a BTM rock in the last lift was not moving as it usually does" which means that some guests apparently noticed that something was going wrong before the accident happened.

For those of you who don't know what is the "lift C" it is the last lift, the one in which you have false rocks moving and the gold mine appearing as it is shown on the WDI rendering below. Of course, as we know, the rocks don't really fall, they're just moving. Except that today one of the rocks really fell down, unfortunately this occured when the train with 25 guests aboard was inside the tunnel.

I will have more news about this dramatic accident tomorrow, and my french readers will find below a short news in french from Le Parisien web site. I've also posted today my regular DLP update and you will find it below or HERE. And below a video (in french) from a french news TV channel with a DLP rep explaining what happened.

"Un élément de décor du Train de la mine de Disneyland Paris s’est décroché lundi après-midi, vers 15 heures, au passage des wagons. «Cela s’est produit vers la fin du parcours de l'attraction, avant le tunnel final», indique une responsable de la communication de la société Eurodisney, confirmant l’information.
L’attraction à sensations, appelée aussi Big Thunder Mountain, est située dans la partie Adventure land du parc principal, à Marne-la-Vallée (Seine-et-Marne).

«Le rocher est tombé sur un wagonnet du petit train qui transportait au total 25 touristes. Il s’agit d’un rocher artificiel fabriqué en résine. Cinq adultes ont été blessés dont un grièvement. Victime d’un traumatisme crânien, cet homme, un Français de 40 ans, a été admis aux urgences de l’hôpital Beaujon, à Clichy-sur-Seine (Hauts-de-Seine). La direction du parc a annoncé que sa famille était prise en charge et hébergée par Eurodisney le temps qu’il restera hospitalisé.

L’attraction est fermée jusqu’à nouvel ordre. Le commissariat de police de Chessy est chargé de l’enquête".

Pictures: copyright Disney


Teevtee said...

You know, I was just there last week and I was really shocked at how porrly kept the park is. The maintainence is delpirable as compared to every other Disney park world wide. Oddly enough the one bright spot was the avalanch scene within Big thunder. I made special note of how the rocks really moved and the scene looked good. At most of the other parks the rocks never move anymore. So it is especially ironic and sad to see this scene in particular cause the accident.

One two side notes... my 6 year old daughter LOVES Big Thunder... we rode it a dozen times... It is scary to think that she could have been hurt.

Also, 7 years ago I was in one of the arcades along mainstreet and a piece of molding fell of a display and nearly hit me, a piece of wood about 3 feet long! On this trip that molding was STILL mising. The management has really let this park fall apart, so much so that I am not sure I coudl recommend visiting it in it's current state.

It is all very sad.

Claude said...

Everyone saw it comming, and now it´s finally happened... A long time ago, that park gave you a feelng that nothing could ever go wrong, but that has completely vanished. The lack of maintenance is shocking, it´s a crying shame for the Disney company, France and all the dedicated people who work for DLP (unfortunately, they are a minority, and they can´t do magic - one cannot fix broken parts and rotten wood by wishing on a star...)

Marco Antonio Garcia said...

That's a very sad fatality.

Its obvious that the parks have to take all the precautions to avoid any injuries at all costs, but considering that the resort receives over 15 million visitors every year, the odds are very high for an accident to occur eventually.

I mean, accident happens on theme parks all around the world constantly. Disney has by far the most visited parks in the world, and a very low number of accidentson them, but it is almost impossible to avoid completely accidents forever.

I don't know if DLP executives could have avoided this accident, or if it was a problem of lack of maintenance, when I went there last time, I saw some maintenance issues, like the hand of Snow White waving to guests in the end of the Snow White ride broken, I could see some robotic parts behind the clothes of the auctioneer in the POTC ride, and rides broke down frequently, but that (rides breaking) happens in other Disney Parks as well. Nevertheless, I didn't feel like the park was falling apart...

Anyway no one should stop going to DLP because of this tragedy, it happened just once, and certainly people are much safer there than almost anywhere else on earth.

Just hope that the man recovers soon and entirely.

Themeparkzone said...

I hope this is a wakeup call for the park to maintain the park better.

Teevtee said...

The fact is that I have been to every Disney park many times (All of them on all continents) and NOTHING comes remotely close to DLP when it comes to poor maintainence. Disneyland at it's absolute worst (about 10 years ago) was never close to DLP.

You see wood rot all ober the place, broken concrete, peeling paint, broken figures and so on. It is not isolated or rare, most of the park shows horrible signs of neglect like you would never find in the other parks.

I do not know if it is money issues, union issues within France, the general attitude of Europeans as compared to other countries or what... what I can tell you though with 100% certainty is that DLP is in much worse physical condition than any other Disney park by a wide margin.

it only makes sense that the lack of maintainence woudl eventually lead to an ccident.

Gerald said...

I'm sorry Teevtee but I cannot let you insult all of the people that really try to make the most for everyone! One cannot bash DLP again and again just with personal suppositions and an exceptional negative experience. DLP is very strict regarding all of the safety procedures and the lack of Maintenance on RIDES SYSTEMS AND VLs is a myth. Maintenances are done EVERY NIGHTS on all of the sensitive parts of each single ride and vehicles. There are so many controlled procedures, checklists, safety audits, briefings and debriefings, signatures, follow ups and hard work done so it is not a "neglect" as the way you say. The debat is deeper than you think and when DL and WDW get budgets from ticketing, hotels, merchandise, restaurants, paid activities and can easily get "money" from feat animation, consumer products, live action studios, licenses, real-estate and all of the other TWDC activities worldwide, DLP just gets funding from resort activities and a very little from real estate and that's it. To make months ends, DLP got to ask banks for expensive loans to develop... I agree and you're right when some parts really need rehabs but not ALL OF THE PARK: the gallion is a ghost of itself and will be fully replaced (this was all wood made with '92 vision and technics and the new version will be metallic with today's DLP's vision of a long term upkeep). The Molly Brown is BRAND NEW, the Castle is being refurbed, the parade route is being fully redone when you leave Main Street (all of the concrete is being destroyed and replaced by a better material) and just with DLP's treasury.
In this situation, it is a part of a decor that felt over, which is absolutely not normal BUT things get worn with time and there are no alarm that says "hey, I need to be fixed, the thing you don't see because it is deeply hidden and unaccessible is not strong enough anymore".

So you cannot say that "The management has really let this park fall apart" which is wrong because from day one, there are just following one another. And knowing people working at DLP (French AND American), they're doing their very best for everyone.

I have been visiting DL and WDW lots of times and I have noticed peeling paints, mould, rotten parts here and there but hey, this is nature and everything needs money and time to be fixed and I'll come back again because I trust the company for its engagements.

And another point I want to stress out, the majority of CMs are pleasant and SINCERE when they greet you, what I prefer against some WDW CMs that are just asked to be commercial and distant (of course, I met great WDW CMs that took time to discuss with us and brighten our stay even more).

So Sorry to be so long but I just wanted to bring some support to DLP because what there doing is a HARD and SERIOUS work.

Anonymous said...

If the budget isn't there, stuff can't be done... DLP appears to be the poor parent of the Disney park family.
And somehow I don't think it's a union problem, as even union representatives point to a lack of action from above when it comes to aging attractions (not sure an employee can do much there). Many people mention the Temple of Doom, which is well beyond its sell-by date... There are also reports of worrying noises in Space Mountain. A real shame, especially when the big 20th anniversary unveil... is a giant shop.

Anonymous said...

Luck maybe, that the other 3 Big Thunders have not had these problems with the falling rocks. Maybe it has to do with where they were fabricated at originally? There was some problems with the trains and they now know what to do to restore them back to original. I hope they will do so like that missing piece on main street or the Pirate Ship in Adventureland.

Juanpa said...

I'm quite sure that the ride systems are checked everyday, and perfectly. But this time has failed the theming (and has fallen over the heads of the visitors). So yes, it's clearly a maintenance issue (you only need to see Hook's Galley) and it should be a wake up call, without a doubt.

Teevtee said...


I appreciate your perspective and comments and I never intended to suggest that the managers of DLP did not care or were not trying. Nor did I suggest that safety was not taken seriously at DLP. In fact I know that all of these people do care and are trying to make things better.

However the simpel fact is that as compared to EVERY other Disney park DLP is in a delporable state of disrepair.

I have been a fan of Disney parks for many decades first visiting Walt Disney World shortly after it opened. I have worked for the Walt Disney Company and I have visted every Disney park (WDW, DL, TDL, DSP, HKDL and all the sub parks) each on several occassions or more. In the case of the U.S. parks I could not count how many times I have been to each and in the case of the foriegn (to me) parks I have visited each many times (except HK which I have visted twice).

WIth that history out of the way please trust me when I tell you the current state of DLP is outrageous and like nothing I ever thought I would see in a Disney park. Rotting wood, decaying structures, rusting surfaces, broken walkways... yes, they are addressing SOME of those issues now while others are not being touched, but the real point is that they never shoudl of been allowed to get in this state.

I am not trying to "bash" DLP... remember, I am a huge fan of the parks. I want them all to succeed, I enjoy visiting them very much. But just because you love somehting does not mean that you must blindly support it. In fact it may mean that you should be the most critical because you know they can be better and want them to be the best.

DLP has made a long series of misteps going back to opening day but the wide scale maintainence issues (whether they have anything to so with the accident or not) are not acceptable.

Will said...

I visited the park in summer 2010. I think the level of maintenance inside the main park was not as bad as some here describe it, but they need to fix things! I know they have got issues with money, but they should cut costs elsewhere and spend more on maintenance. For example, no one needs fancy banners allover the place and this stupid stage in front of the castle where they perform horrible shows. Cut the banners and have one major parade per day. Then, buy some paint. Regular maintenance comes less expansive that these huge renovation projects they are now doing. They would not have to change the entire pirate ship for example if this place had been taken care of more often since 1992.

However I am always shocked about how rotten and dirty the rest of the resort is. These are resorts built by the who is who of postmodern architects and they are not taken care of properly.
The square in front of the station and the village are a complete mess. They need to visually declutter the village, paint the floors and take off these hideous balls... What I blame the management for is the fact that they disrespect the original vision and visual coherence of these places outside the parks.