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Work at Walt Disney World has come to a virtual standstill. With the exception of a handful of essential workers, cast members have been furloughed, reservations have been cancelled or postponed, and nobody knows when we'll be able to visit again. However, not all work involving the parks has come a complete stop, as it seems lawsuits never end, and Walt Disney World is now being sued by a guest after an experience on Epcot's Frozen Ever After.
27-year-old Amanda Peters visited Epcot on January 12 with family. Peters suffers from spina bifida and had undergone brain surgery six weeks before the trip. Her doctors had given her the ok to travel, but recommended that she limit herself to attractions that were slow moving. According to the lawsuit obtained by the Orlando Sentinel, the cast members working the attraction told Peters that the ride only had a "small dip", which the suit claims did not inform the family properly. The were unprepared for what the lawsuit calls a "violent backlash" when the ride vehicles drop while moving backwards near the end of the attraction. Peters claims she hit her head on the seat and it "rattled her brain." When she got off the ride, her speech was reportedly slurred and the family needed to schedule an MRI.
Frozen Ever After is a pretty standard boat based dark ride that floats you past animatronic characters from the Frozen movies. However, the attraction uses the same basic ride architecture as Maelstrom, the ride that Frozen Ever After replaced, and the Frozen version keeps the same layout, including the backward drop.
The official description of Frozen Ever After includes that the ride has "small drops" but there is no further detail.
Walt Disney World isn't the only theme park dealing with a lawsuit during the closure. The Sentinel also reports that Universal Orlando Resort is being sued by a Texas man who claims that a ride on Hagrid's Magical Motorbike Adventure in December left him with back problems that required surgery after the ride malfunctioned and stopped for a period, before lurching forward and throwing him around the ride vehicle.
In a statement, Disney said it will respond to the lawsuit in court. Universal has not yet made a public statement about the suit facing its park.
The lawsuits are just the latest piece of bad news for theme parks that have been suffering for the last month. Theme parks like Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando shut down in mid-March and currently have no public plan for reopening. The expectation is that even when reopening is possible, there will be a slow ramp up and many new procedures in place, like virus testing, in order to be sure guests feel safe.