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Disneyland Skyway Rider Hurt in Fall : Accident: Man lands in tree, is released from hospital after treatment. Overhead ride continues in service.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A 30-year-old Highland man suffered minor injuries at Disneyland on Sunday when he fell from a Skyway gondola and landed in a tree 20 feet below at the Alice in Wonderland ride.

The man, whom authorities and park officials declined to identify, was released after being treated at Western Medical Center-Anaheim, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Disney spokesman Lindsay Schnebly said the incident occurred about 10:25 a.m. when the gondola was approaching the midpoint of a loop between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.

The door to the gondola swung open and the man fell out, Schnebly said, who added the tree apparently cushioned the man’s fall and prevented him from striking the ground.

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Schnebly said the man was helped from the tree by paramedics before being rushed to the hospital a few blocks away, adding that the man was able to talk with rescuers.

The hospital spokeswoman confirmed that the man suffered only minor injuries. “He looked fine to me when he walked out of here,” she said.

Disney officials said the gondola was removed from service for investigation, but the Skyway ride carrying visitors from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland remained open.

Schnebly said that park officials were still investigating the accident but that there was “no evidence yet” to point to an error by ride operators.

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“At this point, anything I said about the door would get into speculation,” he said.

Schnebly said the gondola has a two-step locking procedure in which both a handle and the lock must be opened from outside to release the door.

“It’s not like a car door that you could accidentally open or that you could unlock by mistake,” Schnebly said. “At the end of the ride, the (ride operator) opens both the handle and the latch to open the door.”

In order to open the door from inside, Schnebly said, “in theory, you would have to reach over.”

Schnebly said all the gondolas are inspected every morning before the attraction opens. He said ride operators do not send the gondolas out from the station until the doors have been bolted and locked.

However, he said, it is entirely up to the ride operator to make sure the doors are fastened, and there is no automatic warning device to signal when a door has been incorrectly fastened.

The spokesman said the Skyway ride has never had a similar incident.

Many Disneyland visitors said they were not aware of the accident.

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Birgit Klein, a German tourist, said that while the man’s fall was unfortunate, it would not have dampened her frolicking.

“Nothing too terrible can happen on such a wonderful day,” said Klein, slurping on a strawberry ice cream in the parking lot.

Times staff writer Davan Maharaj contributed to this report.


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