Walt Disney World and Central Florida's other major theme parks say they are prepared for medical emergencies, with hundreds of paramedics and thousands of other workers trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the use of automated heart defibrillators.
But as the recent death of a 4-year-old boy who rode on Epcot's Mission: Space ride illustrates, reality can overwhelm training and preparation in the critical first minutes after an emergency.
It took more than two minutes and the prompting of a 911 dispatcher before two Disney workers, identified in sheriff's records as CPR certified, put their training into action when Daudi Bamuwamye collapsed on the thrill ride, according to a tape of the 911 call.
National training standards call for CPR-certified rescuers to check an unresponsive person for signs of life and immediately begin CPR if a victim isn't breathing.
No one has said swifter action would have saved the boy, and Disney officials said they "believe the response to the incident was handled appropriately."
But the tragedy has focused attention on what theme parks have done to increase their safety in recent years. It also has revived concern on some fronts over why Disney and other large parks are exempt from state ride inspections and do not face government standards for the presence of rescue workers.
"Perhaps this is something we could look at," said state Rep. Sheri McInvale, D-Orlando, who is vice chair of the House tourism committee and a former Disney employee. While she said she is confident that "safety is a top priority for Disney," she and others don't know exactly what the parks do to prepare for emergencies.