Without A Net

Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

It's A Small World ride breaks down, forces disabled man to listen to that song for 30 minutes

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For one man at Disneyland, it was less a world of laughter than world of tears.

Disneyland has paid disabled man Jose Martinez $8,000. Their crime? Not evacuating him from It’s A Small World after the ride broke down in 2009, leaving him listening to that song for half an hour.

The song couldn’t be shut off. Most adults are ready to strangle someone after going through the ride at regular speed. Like the song says, “It’s a world of hopes, it’s a world of fears,” and this sounds like it belongs on most of our top fear lists.

Martinez’s lawyer, David Geffen (no relation?), says that Martinez was the only passenger not evacuated when the ride broke down in 2009, according to the Associated Press. Geffen also says that Disneyland staff failed to call the fire department to help free Martinez.

Martinez uses a wheelchair, as well as suffering from panic attacks and high blood pressure, Geffen says, according to the AP. He also had to use the restroom for much of the time — all while being surrounded by water. Those oceans must have started to seem pretty wide.

Martinez wasn't medically stabilized for three hours, Geffen said, according to the AP. Geffen said that half of the award was for pain and suffering, while the other half is for violating disability laws.

Disney didn’t immediately reply to messages from the AP seeking comment, but we don’t think that telling Martinez “a smile means friendship to everyone” would have helped. The AP later contacted Disneyland spokeswoman Suzi Brown, who said the park believes they provided appropriate assistance and are disappointed the court didn't fully agree. Brown also says that the disability law violations have been addressed.

Enjoy the ride through It’s A Small World virtually below — feel free to cover your ears at any point.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated how long Martinez was stuck on the ride.

With contributions by AP

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