I remember back when I was a teenager and first rode the moving sidewalks that were in the airport and thought these were the greatest inventions yet. These should be installed everywhere! Think of how fast we could travel from place to place on these little beauties!
Then in 1994, I traveled with my family to Walt Disney World. This is really when my Disney “memory” begins. I remember riding Space Mountain and upon exiting the ride, got to ride a moving sidewalk! It was like a ride within a ride. I noticed that they were everywhere all over Disney World: Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, Spaceship Earth, etc. I knew Disney was brilliant at this moment. Surely it would not be long until Disney installed them in the World Showcase to help us get from the front of the Showcase to the back!
Now, let’s fast forward to my trip with my son last September. My son was 3 at the time of this trip and as always was ampted about being in his favorite “World”. Being a huge fan of Buzz Lightyear, we visited Space Ranger Spin often during the trip. As you may know, this brilliant ride offers the moving sidewalks at the end of the attraction to quickly whisk guests off the ride. After riding this ride for our third time of the trip, my son and I were walking off of the ride by way of that moving sidewalk. My son showing his independence by not holding my hand. At the time, I was alright with this as I was busy checking that I had his blanket, my camera and our bag. About the time we approached the end of the mover, I was on my third check of our things making sure I had not left an item on the ride while my son decided he could fly. He got to the end of the platform and jumped, lost his balance and fell backwards. With all of the stuff I had in my hands and with little thought of the situation, I was slow to react to helping him up.
As a result of jumping so close to the end of the moving sidewalk and the falling, his shirt got caught in the belt mechanism and he was quickly trapped. He began screaming uncontrollably, “Mommy, help me!” All I could do was drop all of our stuff and kneel beside him. The ride was shut down for over 25 minutes while my child waited impatiently and cried. Maintenance showed up to open the hatch that now housed his shirt. An ambulance came to check out my son. The police came to take a report. And guest relations came to make sure we were still happy with our visit to the Happy Place!
I was freaked out, concerned, overwhelmed, embarrassed, and did I say overwhelmed. So much going on so quickly! Once he was removed from the moving sidewalk, we saw that he had some teeth marks from the gear mechanism on his back and that his shirt was very stretched out. We were given an ice cream voucher and some fast passes. I could only think that they should not have given us anything. The problem was a mother that was not holding her son’s hand and a son that thought flying was a good thing at the end of an attraction.
My husband was not with us on this trip. He is an EMT and panicked with the what-could-have-happened-if-our-son’s-shirt-had-caused-choking thought. Needless to say, I have a different view of moving sidewalks now. I hold my son’s hand every time we are on them. I still love their ability to get me from one place to another quickly, but prefer to ride them alone!