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Around and Around and...

March 07, 2004

Thank goodness, after 49 years of unnoticed peril, the safety squads have drastically slowed the Disney spinning teacups. No, not the teapot tempest at Disney's raucous shareholder meeting. But the 18 oversized cups at Disneyland's Mad Hatter's Tea Party, the ones that spin around and around and around -- ooh, we should have saved the hot dog and green drink for after the ride -- and around, according to how you turn the cup's steering wheel. A gazillion Grandpas took their favorite little boys and girls onto cups that really weren't as scary as Grandpa's giggles or the youngsters' screams implied.

Apparently, after nearly half a century of incident-free spinning, one exiting disabled patron slipped not long ago. State inspectors saw no need to change anything. But some Disney dwarfs, probably Grumpy, tightened the teacup wheels anyway so even a bodybuilding governor couldn't get them to turn quickly. How sad. Presumably, the slipper, who neither sought assistance nor appeared to suffer from PTSTS (post-traumatic spinning teacup syndrome), waited for the ride to stop. So neither spinning nor customer complaint were the culprits.

Are we going to sue for momentary dizziness now? Can anyone claim shock that spinning teacups spin? That the Mad Hatter's Tea Party is, well, mad? Who made anyone spin the cup wheel anyway, or get into the stupid cups? All riders are volunteers. More important, are the functionaries of places once called amusement parks going to cite fear of lawsuits for taming every little thing? Yes, rides must be safe and sound and well maintained. But thrill-less? Disneyland already outlawed guides firing blanks at mechanical hippos menacing jungle boats for fear of training potential poachers. And Disneyland's Caribbean pirates no longer chase maidens, just food, a historical obscenity that promotes obesity. Such calibrated correctness is a bit much and hardly worth paying a king's ransom to attend.

Maybe right next to the sign, "You Must Be This Tall to Ride," they should post ratings with little symbols -- one lawyer with briefcase for mildly scary attractions and a whole legal assault team for roller coasters.

What do we do next to anticipate every fraidy-cat Disneycrat's worst nightmare? Should we test Mickey for hantavirus? Goofy for rabies? And that common-law Duck family for avian flu? And while we're at it, what kind of medicines is Gizmo Duck on now? Is he armed? Is he sufficiently stable to interact with people who were once considered guests but now are would-be litigants?

Here's the next assignment for those daffy Disneyland dweebs: Imagineer a device to slow the spinning of old Walt in his grave.

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