I don’t suggest having an accident on vacation, but if you do make sure it is a accident. We had one in March 2015 when my Dad fell in Hollywood Studios.
Our family has experienced its share of Disney “emergencies.” We have had everything from tummy bugs to H1N1, anaphylactic allergic reactions, to heat exhaustion that required a trip to a minor emergency center. Once my son even vomited on a Disney bus.
None of that compared to experiencing our first full-blown Disney emergency.
Hurray for Hollywood!
Sunday, March 15th started normally enough. My son and I headed to Disney Hollywood Studios near opening time, enjoyed breakfast at Starring Rolls, and then rode a few rides.
We had plans to meet my parents at Star Tours for our 11:00 am FastPass+ time. We got there early, so we decided to ride standby before we met.
As we were boarding our StarSpeeder, my son turned to me and showed me a text message:
In my mind, I was picturing a skinned knee or elbow. So it was a message letting us know my parents would be late for our 11:00 meet-up.
When the ride ended, we had this message.
We are by the bathrooms at the front of the park
At this point, I started to think it might be more severe than I initially thought. We walked as fast as we could to the park entrance. I was unprepared for what I saw as we rounded the corner toward the bathrooms.
There was an entire wall of Disney cast members blocking our path. On the right, there was at least 6-8 custodial staff forming a barrier to keep guests away. On the left, there were a couple of cast members facing away from us as, well as one standing guard.
As we approached, the guard stepped forward to stop us. Before he could even speak, I told him it was my father. He moved out of the way and let us pass.
Help! I’ve Fallen at Disney, and I Can’t Get Up!
My poor 72-year-old Dad had tripped on the curb on his way to the bathroom.
He was lying face-down on the hot sidewalk with his left arm straight in front like he was Superman. Not so much with the right. It had hit a wall and was lying there at an angle that just wasn’t normal. The paramedics were inserting an IV to give him pain medicine before they moved him.
My mom has vertigo, so she isn’t the most able-bodied person. I couldn’t do anything for my Dad, so I moved on to my Mom to make sure she was okay. Cast Members surrounded her and had already given her a bottle of cold water and were now asking her questions.
Then things got fuzzy.
One cast member asked if we needed anything – water, soda, misting fan, etc. My Mom kept saying no, but the gal was going to keep asking until we said yes. We sent her off for water and a misting fan.
Two other cast members were taking notes and filling out paperwork. They asked where we were staying, when we had come into the park, what kind of tickets we had used, and a host of other questions. One cast member kept handing me pieces of paper, which I shoved into my purse.
After what seemed like forever, they immobilized my Dad’s arm and got him turned over onto a backboard, and loaded him on a gurney. We followed him out to the ambulance which was parked just “outside the magic” on the other side of a disguised exit. My mom rode in the ambulance with plans for local friends to meet her at the hospital.
As we walked back into the park, the “paper pushing” cast member asked what my son and I planned to do next. I was shaking, so I told him I was going to find a quiet, shaded place just to sit for a moment.
Our 15 minutes of Fame as Disney Celebrities
The cast member led my son and me into the Guest Services building and put us in the Celebrity Waiting Room. Yes, it was called the Celebrity Waiting Room. He told us to take our time and when we were done to tell a cast member.
(No, I didn’t take pictures. Given the circumstances, it felt inappropriate to take advantage of our opportunity to see some behind-the-scenes magic.)
I can tell you that it was a small Art Deco style room. The one thing that stood out was a side-table that held three phones – three OLD phones that had cords. Not “themed to look like old Hollywood” old. They were “been here since the park opened in 1989” old. One of the phones was black. I wonder if that was the direct line to Mickey Mouse?
We didn’t stay long before leaving our celebrity status behind to head to our lunch reservation at Sci-Fi. Once seated, I decided to pull out all those pieces of paper that were handed to me earlier.
I had two taxi vouchers we could use to get to the hospital and back free of charge. There were also two park ticket vouchers — one for me and one for my Mom — that were good for two replacement tickets each for coming back to Hollywood Studios. I also pulled out six FastPasses that were good for any Disney Hollywood Studios ride at any time during the next two weeks.
We Have a Diagnosis!
Multiple X-rays and a CAT scan determined that my Dad had a severe spiral fracture of his right humerus (upper arm). He transferred to Florida South Hospital in Orlando where he had successful surgery to put a rod inside the bone. He ended up staying there for three nights.
A Ride on Our Own Personal Mad Tea Party Teacup
From the time of the accident, until we flew home, it felt like a non-stop ride on the Mad Tea Party teacups. When would my Dad have surgery? How would we get my Mom back and forth to the hospital? When would my Dad be released? Would my parents make their scheduled flight home? Where would they stay once their resort reservation ended? What was the best way to get to the airport?
I covered the logistics while my Mom took care of my Dad.
Every step of the way, Disney cast members helped us. They provided a wheelchair, searched for accommodation alternatives, ordered taxis, called to check up on my parents, and sent notes ( and buttons) of encouragement, and countless other things.
Be it Ever so Humble
I NEVER thought I would see the day when I would be glad to end a Disney vacation. On Friday, March 20th we all made it back home. My Dad is at the beginning of a long recovery but is looking forward to returning to Disney for our family vacation in June. However, this time, he might skip going into the parks and just hang out at the resort instead.