You may want to jump directly to our follow-up coverage with updated details correcting some of the early reports and providing more in depths information!
Around 3 pm on Easter Monday, April 25, 2011 five guests were injured riding the Big Thunder Mountain rollercoaster in Frontierland of Disneyland Paris. According to the French paper Le Parisien the guests on board of one of the main trains (i.e. coaster trains) were hit by some fake rock work that fell down on them.
The fake rock was made out of resin. (see updates 1 & 2) According to first reports the train at that time was located on the final lift hill of the attraction (“lift C”). This lift hill is inside a tunnel in which movement of rockwork on the walls and above the guests together with lighting and sound effects is supposed to simulate an earthquake with an explosion followed by the tunnel supposedly caving in on the train which – normally – would escape at the last second onto the final section of the coaster track.
While four of the five injured guests on board of the train were able to continue their day inside Disneyland after being treated on-site by the emergency personnel the fifth guests – a 40 year old French men according to Le Parisien – had to be moved to the hospital Beaujon in Clichy-sur-Seine (Hauts-de-Seine) due to head injuries. According to a statement by a state official provided to Reuters the injury of this fifth guests is considered serious. According to Le Parisien the family of the seriously injured guest will be hosted by the resort for the time he is in the hospital.
Until further notice, in particular until the officials have further examined the scene and the cause of the accident Big Thunder Mountain will remain closed.
According to Alan Littaye on MiceAge the fake rock that hit the five guests was note made out of resin (as reported by Le Parisien) but consisted of fiberglass and wood.
What the official kick-off of the Magical Moment Festival failed to do in early April is achieved by today’s sad news about the accident on Big Thunder Mountain: the story is covered across all media, including for example the international MSNBC.com. MSNBC (based on REUTERS) quotes Thierry Bonnet, deputy prefect of Seine-et-Marne, confirming that the fake rockwork piece that hit the guests on the coaster was “made from fiberglass and wood“.
Later press coverage consistently mentions the age of the seriously injured guest as 38 years. Also it seems the accident occured around 2:50 pm (which is reasonable close to the originally reported “around 3:00 pm). Some new details have been released by the German website Spiegel Online which apparently based its article at least partially on a news report by the news agency dpa. The article once again cites a spokeswoman of the resort as stating that the guest who was brought into the hospital has a serious concussion but is not in a life threating condition.
The article also provides (as far as we can see) for the first time information concerning information regarding the nationality of the other four guests that were lightly injured (and treated on-site before returning into the park): French and Turkish. However, the article also quotes a statement provided by a spokesman of the resort to the French tv station BFM: “There is constant upkeep, we check everything, every day. The ride had been completely refurbished only two years ago”.
In particular this latter quote sounds interesting with its reminder of the complete refurbishment of Big Thunder Mountain from two years ago. During this “complete refurbishment” two years ago the island structure respectively the island’s rockwork was fully repainted (omitting however the adjunct rainbow arch). Nevertheless, the same island respectively it’s rockwork has been officially placed back on the list of major refurbishments for the resort to be executed this year. The refurbishment announced earlier this April was to be a complete repainting. One could wonder why a repainting of this structure – which is a major project considering the location (it being an island), the scope and the impact on the guest experience – was considered necessary already after two years (especially with other prominent structures lacking far behind a two-year schedule for repaintings) and how this reflects on the quality of the refurbishment two years ago. However, no early conclusions should be drawn and instead the results of the on-going probe by the authorities should be waited for.
All of us here at DLP.info wish the guests injured during the accident a full and speedy recovery.