Disney to offer “lite” version of thrill ride

Less than a month after a second person died after riding Mission: Space, Walt Disney World is reworking its hazardous but popular Epcot ride to offer a Mission: Space-lite option for some people.

The thrill ride simulates a spaceship launch, flight and landing with a combination of centrifugal and other motion forces and audio and video "virtual-reality" effects. There are four separate centrifuge systems in the ride building, each with 10 pods that can hold four riders each.

Disney announced Tuesday that it will turn off the centrifuge on at least one system, so that riders who don't want, or should not try, the spinning may still ride.

The new option will be available by early summer.

A company spokeswoman said the change is not being made because of the April 12 death of German tourist Hiltrud Blumel, the death last summer of a 4-year-old boy, Daudi Bamuwamye, or numerous complaints of illness. Disney is calling the nonspinning ride an exciting new option.

"By offering a second adventure, we hope to broaden the appeal of Mission: Space and enable even more guests to experience the attraction," Al Weiss, president of Walt Disney World Resort, said in a statement.

Mission: Space has drawn 11.8 million people since it opened in the summer of 2003.

But the ride also draws the most complaints of serious illnesses among all Disney World rides, and it is the only one that includes motion-sickness bags. Besides the two deaths, more than 130 riders have sought medical attention, including 10 reported with serious health effects, since the ride opened.

The ride is safe as designed for people who heed the health warnings, Disney spokeswoman Kim Prunty said. People with cardiovascular problems including hypertension, or who are prone to motion sickness, are warned away by 13 signs, plus video and audio warnings along the ride's queue.


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