Disneyland is supposed to be a magical place where people escape the real world and indulge in fantasy and fun. However, for one woman, Disneyland was less “dream come true” and more “ongoing nightmare” as she apparently sustained a head injury on Space Mountain that has left her with permanent impairment. She is now suing the Walt Disney Company for $3 million.
Sarah Andrews of Alaska visited Disneyland in December of 2017 and was riding Space Mountain when the ride malfunctioned in some way, forcing Andrews’ ride vehicle to be diverted to a maintenance tunnel. While exiting the vehicle, a Disneyland cast member reportedly told the guests to look down and watch their step, but did not warn them about a low ceiling. The tunnel was, like most of Space Mountain, dimly lit, which led to Andrews “violently” striking her head.
Andrews went back to her hotel afterward due to disorientation and later went to the emergency room where she was diagnosed with a concussion. According to the Orange County Register, she has since been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury which will require extensive continuing treatment.
The $3 million lawsuit that has been filed recently is to cover medical expenses as well as lost earning capacity.
Disneyland has yet to comment on the suit, and likely won’t be doing so as major corporations rarely speak when litigation is pending. This certainly seems like a terrible situation and an unfortunate accident, though it’s impossible to tell just how legally at fault Disneyland might be under these circumstances. The details we have all come from the lawsuit itself, and the park may have a very different version of the events.
A brief internet search reveals that hundreds of injury lawsuits have been filed against Disney parks over the years. For the most part, these suits are either dismissed by the court, or they’re settled out of court. There’s every reason to believe that this case will likely see a similar path.
More recently, Walt Disney World settled a lawsuit that saw a child attacked by a drunken teenager inside Epcot. The park was sued because the underage person obtained alcohol inside the park somehow.
You can’t run two of the most popular tourist attractions on the planet without attracting lawsuits, justified or not. Accidents are going to happen, and this one involving Space Mountain, if it was as severe as is being argued, sounds serious enough that a lawsuit is not surprising.
If we hear anything about this again, it will almost certainly be when the suit is either dismissed or settled, unless Disney makes the decision that fighting it is worth while. In that case, this could be only the begging of a much longer process that could go on for years.