Eighteen or nineteen years ago, in early December, my travel party was on our way from World Showcase to The Land pavilion at Epcot when we were passed by two or three EMTs walking quickly with a stretcher. When we arrived at The Land, we saw the medical emergency where they were headed - it unfolded within just a few feet of us. On the cement benches just outside of the pavilion, on the right, there was a heavyset man who had collapsed and, like your experience, his very emotional and very upset family looking on as the EMTs performed CPR (before the days of AEDs). By the color of his face and his unresponsiveness, all of us concluded that this was an extremely dire situation.
We went into the Land, experienced the attractions in kind of a numbing and silent funk, and left. When we left The Land, the incident, and all evidence of it, was gone. I have never forgotten that moment and now, after countless trips into The Land to experience Soarin' or Living With The Land, no matter how fast I sprint to the Fastpass machines, I still look to the right, at that cement bench, and think about that December morning nearly 20 years ago. I don't know what happened to that man, or his family, but always hope (and pray) that whatever the outcome, somehow they were able to disassociate their tragic experience from the happiest place on earth.
If your experience is anything like mine, my guess is that the sidewalk by Town Square will always remind you of what you saw - and it does, if only for a moment - take just a little luster away from such a happy and carefree escape.
There are moments in all of our lives where we are forced to stop our happy activities, and face life's scarier, and more tragic realities. I was in Disneyland, on July 17, 2005, when I called home to talk to my husband. I remember being in Fantasyland when I made the call. Usually my calls to my husband are brief. This one contained bad news. I heard about the death of my sister in law's mom, Irene. Here I was, enjoying the 50th anniversary of Disneyland celebration, and I was stopped dead in my tracks, hearing about the death of a loved one. I knew Irene well. I spent many happy moments with her. I recall walking down Main Street later, and sitting on the bench right outside of city hall. The parade was about to happen. Instead of watching, the parade, I spent my time making phone calls to loved ones back home in Chicago, to talk about Irene, and pass the news along.
I will always remember the 50th Anniversary for all the joy it brought to me that day. I will also remember it as the day a good friend passed away. I still associate that bench outside of city hall with the name Irene. Right behind the castle on the Fantasyland side is the place where I made the call to my husband. I still recollect that moment when I pass through that area.
You're making the case of Disneyland as religion. On one hand to acknowledge that “no one dies at Disney” is untrue and unrealistic, then to subsequently say "it seems the ultimate insult for death to come visiting here". HUH? You're perfectly welcome to turn your head and not face reality, but you're also partially a journalist (or human) so you learned what has transpired. It is never pretty.
I'm confused. You were never afraid of criticising Disney via Decline by Degrees, yet this is somehow extraordinary.
Since you suffer trama from the incident, it would have been better to leave immediately instead of making of the best of it.
Not everyone has a good vacation (or vacation from reality). Someone's vacation is another person livelihood or life experience.
Why is death viewed completely negatively in our society? We are all going to have to face it. The woman died doing what she loved and with her family! Would she have rather been alone in a grey hospital room that she had not left in the prior three weeks ?
The only down side I can think of was that it was not very private but dying is a natural end to life and life does not exist without death. If she was suffering, and i'll bet she was probably dealing with some kind of chronic health issues, her suffering is over.
My only hope is that the family does not try to pin any of it on Disney unless Disney was somehow grossly negligent or responsible.
That was a sad story. I was moved. I understand your reaction. However, too many people visit WDW every day not to expect someone to die there of a heart attack or other natural cause. Kevin, I am surprised that you have not seen more of this given your frequent visits. But I understand because no matter how natural death is, it is still disturbing.
I will say a pray for that child you mentioned. My heart goes out to the family.
Jiminy Cricket Fan
If I died at Disneyland everyone who really knows me would think of it like Bing Crosby dying on a golf course. We're Irish; they would find it funny. Eventually at least.
The question is how a speaker would relate this to the song I'm going to have blasting as they carry out my casket: "I Want You Back" by the Jackson 5.
Many people have some of their ashes scattered at Disneyland, and the Haunted Mansion is the most popular dumping ground. Stupid, because it is actually kept clean and the ashes will end up in a vacuum cleaner. Better to toss a pinch of dust in the grass outside of the HM at night.
But Kevin, I would be interested to read about how you feel about your experience in one year and in five years.
I've seen Code-1 calls frequently (every three months?) and paramedic runs maybe every year, but normally you never know exactly what happens - no one updates you - and normally I'm not walking by four feet away from the person before help has arrived. So this time it struck closer to home than usual.
“The press [should be] a watchdog. Not an attack dog. Not a lapdog. A watchdog. Now, a watchdog can't be right all the time. He doesn't bark only when he sees or smells something that's dangerous. A good watchdog barks at things that are suspicious.” – Dan Rather
I cannot help but being moved by your article today. Last summer, we had the opportunity to take my 85 year old Father-in-law with us to Disneyland - a place that we and he both cherished. He had been in declining health for several years, and was not sure that he could even make this trip. Through a combination of many breaks in air-conditioned buildings, and the forethought to bring a wheelchair so that he would not have to walk or stand for long periods of time, he managed quite well on the trip.
He passed away one week later - back at home. But we will never forget that we were able to take him, one last time, to a place where he had found so much happiness over the years.
I've been the first person on the scene of a crash I witnessed, and I spent quite a bit of time wondering if there was anyone in the crushed car even still alive. Seeing events like this is almost as traumatizing as actually knowing the person. It kind of makes you re-analyze life and how valuable it is.
About the Tiki Room: It's not fire damage that could be getting repaired. It's mainly the water. Water can destroy a lot of elements and they may have to rebuild most of the inside of the attraction because of that. Thats probably why it's taking some time.
This sounds more about coming to terms with watching a person die than watching a person die in Walt Disney World. I think the connection to WDW in this case is just circumstantial in this article.
I totally agree with another poster, our society has far too negative a view on death... the attitude is almost such that it doesn't exist and we ignore it (or try to) as much as possible, so much so that when it does happen to people we don't know, we are in shock. It's a natural thing and although I'd be really shaken up upon seeing someone die, I honestly don't think I'd let it ruin my vacation or dwell on it much more than wondering what happened.
Don't get me wrong, if someone I knew died I would be so devastated I wouldn't be able to think straight for weeks. It would be absolutely horrible, but there are so many people who die every day (and so many new lives created as well) that a person could go nuts trying to feel for every person that dies. We are a youth-obsessed society, death doesn't exist to us. When it does hit, it is like a ton of bricks because it's not supposed to happen in our society. The more open people are to accepting death as a natural part of life, the more free we can be to enjoy life for what it is, a temporary romp with ups and downs.
I'm probably overthinking this, but the phrase "no one dies at Disney" suggests something ominous. In fact, I believe that emergency medical teams commonly remove bodies from business places before legally proclaiming a death in an "off-site" location.
This was certainly the case with my father-in-law over 20 years ago. He had a heart attack in my office and, though he clearly had passed away, the emergency team continued to perform revival techniques until getting him into the ambulance. At that point, they immediately declared a time of death.
It seems like you are really conflicted Kevin and who could blame you? If I had an incident happen to me like that at Disneyland, I would be worried too. And with past incidents such as the Roger Rabbit incident, you hit every note right. When it comes to "nobody dies at Disney" that is a real lie because people have died at Disney (RnRC, RRCS) and this. So this isn't really anythign new.