I frantically looked around the cabin for a button to push to halt the ride, and found none . . . I was faint, breathless and have never felt sicker in my life. I honestly have never felt as close to death as I did when I was on M:S.
This woman, writing about Disney's Mission: Space on a blog site, experienced a classic case of "fight or flight." Her adrenaline was flowing and heart banging. But pinned down in a small, dark cabin, she could not obey her body's demand to act. There was no way to release the stress.
Although a rare event, this is where weak blood vessels or hearts can fail. That has happened twice at Mission: Space in the past year. A 4-year-old boy died of heart failure and a 49-year-old woman died from a stroke.
Hence these green tickets my 7-year-old girl and I are holding. They are for admission to a wimped-out version of Mission: Space. Disney has turned off one of the centrifuges in the ride, so the capsules attached to it do not spin. It's part of Disney's ongoing effort to make its $100 million super-ride user-friendly and keep it out of the news.
In 1999, I made this ironic observation while writing about Islands of Adventure: "Disney doesn't want people barfing on its rides and dying of heart attacks. Universal doesn't care."
And so I was stunned after boarding Mission: Space when it opened in 2003. It turned my stomach more topsy-turvy than anything at Universal. I wasn't alone.
So many people got sick that Disney had to put in distress bags. Ten people reported serious illness or injury and 130 others sought medical attention. In a word, Disney seriously screwed up. It miscalculated the intensity of a ride that was years in the planning. That kind of oversight for such a meticulous company is amazing.
I can't prove it and Disney won't admit it, but I think the company toned down the ride by 2005. This literally is a gut feeling, backed up by data showing far fewer hospital visits by guests.