Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Disneyland Is Not the Happiest Place on Earth for Jose Martinez

Walt Disney created several great rides for the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair. One of them is “It’s a Small World”. He moved it to Disneyland, “The happiest Place on Earth,” when the Fair closed. You can’t escape it. The ride has globally spread like a virus, popping up at all the Disney theme parks. You can also take a virtual ride on YouTube. It’s a cute, mellow ride around the various continents and ethnicities with 350 audio-animatronic dolls serenading the passengers in gently flowing barges. This is not Indiana Jones, not even Pirates of the Caribbean – no climbs, no dips, no bumps, no jerks, no plunges. Just a nice smooth ride. Disney entertainment at its best. I’ve ridden it many times when I could afford an annual pass. But then there’s the song, “It’s a Small World (After All).” That’s about it for the lyrics. The Sherman Brothers wrote better songs for Walt Disney, but It’s a Small World is the one you remember. You can't escape it. It plays continuously, over and over, as you proceed slowly through the ride. It starts to knar on you, like a wart that won’t go away. The tune, but mostly the lyrics, keep growing in your psyche until you loathe it. It’s a small, small, small, small world after all. Disneyland varies the music to include Christmas Carols, but the Christmas Season is too short. Disneyland celebrated its 50th Anniversary over 18 months so there’s no reason why it can’t stretch the Holiday Season with the carols from Labor Day till Memorial Day. Let the tourists experience the Full Monte (loop) of the song. Poor Jose Martinez of San Pedro, California – not far from The Happiest Place on Earth. Jose is a paraplegic, who obviously cannot ride all of Disneyland’s wonderful attractions. He suffers from high blood pressure and panic attacks. Space Mountain would be a bad idea, but It’s a Small World is perfect for him. He had not been to Disneyland since he was a child. It was time to relive the memories. And there was Jose and his wife on November 27, 2009 in It’s a Small World near the end of the ride when it broke down. The exit dock was in sight. Relief was at hand. But not for Jose Martinez. As the phrase goes: "No way, Jose." Disney’s employees evacuated everyone else on the boats, but not Jose. They claimed they could not help him because of his disability. They also did not notify the Anaheim Fire Department of his presence. The AFD could have rescued Jose. The exit dock was in sight, but relief was not at hand. Alas, Disneyland could neither rescue Jose nor turn off the music. Joe sat in Hell, listening to 30 continuous minutes of It’s a Small World (After all). That is half an hour of cruel and unusual punishment. It is 30 minutes of severe emotional distress. It is 1,800 seconds of pure torture while the outside clock tick tocks. What would you pay to relieve yourself of this misery? The exit dock was in sight, but Jose could not relieve himself. He had to urinate but couldn’t. Jose suffered a panic attack while the Disney employees violated The Americans With Disabilities. Happy was one of the seven Dwarfs, but Hapless showed up. Bashful was hiding in Sleeping Beauty's Castle. Jose met up with Sneezy and Doc at the Disneyland First Aid Station. The Happiest Place on Earth also has a real operating jail. Jose Martinez exercised his fundamental American rights by suing Disney in Los Angeles. Only Dopey would sue Disneyland in Orange County if an alternative jurisdiction exists. Did a happy ending come to Jose Travails in the Happy Kingdom? Yes, and no. He just won his lawsuit, but the Grumpy Court only awarded him $8,000 ($4,000 for pain and suffering and $4,000 for access violations). That will barely cover his legal fees.

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