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Anyone who has ever been to one of Disney's theme parks can tell you that they generally run like well-oiled machines. Everything is efficient and clean and when a ride inevitably breaks down, it doesn't ruin the experience and is repaired as quickly as possible, with fast passes even taken into consideration. So when something breaks on a Disneyland ride and it makes the news, you know it has to be really bad or truly out of the ordinary. Such was the case recently when one of Disney's evilest villains became even more disturbing and terrifying thanks to a broken audio-animatronic. Take a look below to see Ursula from The Little Mermaid doing her best Headless Horseman impression.
Yikes. That is not great. This disturbing breakdown took place on The Little Mermaid-Ariel's Undersea Adventure ride at Disneyland's California Adventure. The video comes from M Lilah's Twitter account who recorded the scene and her brother can be heard astutely claiming that the ride is broken. It is broken all right, and while Ursula is supposed to be scary, this is scary for the wrong reasons. If the Ursula animatronic had been moving without the song or if the song had been playing and the character was motionless it would have been no big deal. That kind of thing happens and doesn't really detract from the experience of the ride. But to have Ursula still moving and singing as Poor Unfortunate Souls plays with her head dangling from her neck is some nightmare fuel.
The Huffington Post talked to a guest who experienced the sea sitch sans head, and noted some kids were quite upset and understandably so. When you're young, visiting Disney's theme parks can be a magical experience that transports you into fairy tale's full of fantastic characters. To see a character, even a villain, in such a state has to be quite alarming. If nothing else, at least it was a villain. I imagine it would have been much worse and more traumatizing had this happened to Ariel or god forbid those most popular and beloved of Disney characters, like Anna and Elsa on the Frozen ride at EPCOT.
I've been to Disney theme parks countless times and have witnessed ride breakdowns and weird occurrences, but I have to say I have never seen anything quite like this. What's especially interesting is that this was not an entirely isolated incident. The auctioneer on The Pirates of the Caribbean ride in Disneyland Paris also suffered a missing head that was still moving as it dangled from his neck. Clearly business is booming for Trader Sam, the head salesman from the Jungle Cruise ride. I'm sure that ensuring this doesn't happen again is the highest of priorities for the Disney parks folks.
While this was not ideal and frightened some of Disneyland's younger guests, it is important to remember that these things happen and shouldn't detract from the excitement and magic of the parks. There are a ton of exciting new lands and attractions coming to Disneyland and Walt Disney World this year and in the coming years as the parks continue to expand to accommodate Disney's growing portfolio of brands.