Last week, the California Screaming’ roller coaster at Disney’s California Adventure was temporarily shut down. The ride was stopped and people were evacuated.
This all happened because, while the ride was in motion, a guest pulled out a selfie stick and attempted to take a picture.
For reference, selfie sticks are banned throughout Disney parks for safety reasons. They’ve never been allowed on rides, but in early summer last year they were forbidden from being used–or even brought into–the parks at all. But, for whatever reason, a guest disregarded a rule put into place for safety reasons and as a result a ride had to be shut down and evacuated.
Think about the potential scenarios that could have resulted from this person’s violation of the ban. What if the stick had flown out of their hand and hit another guest? What if it had landed on the track and another ride car had run into it? The potential for trouble isn’t limited to roller coasters, either. If a selfie stick fell on the track of the Haunted Mansion, for example, cast members still need to stop everything to retrieve it because serious damage to the ride could result if the next doom buggie were to run over it.
In addition to the obvious safety concerns, there’s something else to consider: by deciding the rules didn’t apply to them, this guest inconvenienced a considerable number of other guests. The ride was shut down, and people were evacuated. This means that people who were finally on the coaster after waiting in line had to get off (after sitting in the stopped ride car for about twenty minutes). Then there were the people still waiting in line, who more than likely had to walk away and come back later. The ride was reportedly down for roughly two hours while safety checks were performed.
Plus, for the record, if you’re on any ride and you’re holding your phone out on a stick, you’re blocking the view for other guests. And, if it’s a dark ride, then your phone’s screen could be throwing some unwanted illumination. Even outside, selfie sticks are an issue: who wants to be smacked in the head by a metal stick with a phone on the end while navigating a crowded park because someone was too focused on trying to take a selfie?
I was on Pirates of the Caribbean once, and the boat was stopped because some kids a few rows behind us kept standing up. We weren’t evacuated (and, though I didn’t see it happen, I can only hope that security was waiting for them as they disembarked) but we had to sit and wait while other guests ruined the experience for us and for everyone else who was on the ride. Bear in mind that it wasn’t just our boat that was stopped. Every boat on the ride was stopped and the line to get on stopped moving because these kids wanted to stand up in the boat (ignoring the repeated recordings and live announcements asking them to sit down). Now, technical difficulties do happen at Disney parks from time to time. I’ve gotten to an attraction only to be turned away because it was temporarily closed, and I’ve even been evacuated from a ride once (which I described in my Splash Mountain post) because whatever went wrong was something that apparently couldn’t be fixed quickly. These are incredibly high-tech attractions, so an occasional glitch in the system is to be expected–no matter how much the powers-that-be at Disney try to keep everything running smoothly. However, there’s a big difference in my mind between a ride being stopped over a technical issue versus one stopping because some guests had lapses in common sense and basic courtesy.
This wasn’t the first time that California Screamin’ was shut down because of a selfie stick and sadly it probably won’t be the last time. No matter how much Disney tries to enforce this and other safety rules, there are people who–for whatever reason–will decide to try and get away with breaking them. This disregard can, at the very least, create an inconvenience for other guests but it can also cause serious injury and/or damage.
I think a big part of my issue here is that I guess I expect people to be better at the Happiest Place on Earth (or the Most Magical, depending on which coast you’re on). Maybe that’s a bit naive, but there have been plenty of times when I’ve personally experienced cast members and even other guests showing an incredible level of courtesy and making a little extra magic for others. Sure, there are always some rude folks in the mix, but I’ve found that their actions can rarely dampen my happy cloud of pixie dust. The California Screamin’ situation, though, acts as a reminder that there are selfish people out there. People who will disregard the rules, opting to inconvenience others and create safety risks regardless of the consequences. People who make it a just a bit harder for the rest of us to joyfully play in the worlds of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy.