The official account of the recent accident on the Big Thunder Mountain rollercoaster at Disneyland Paris has been disputed by people who claim to have been on the ride when it occurred.
The incident on April 25 left one man seriously injured, with Big Thunder Mountain currently closed pending an investigation into its cause. Last week, it was reported that a piece of fake rockwork came loose in the tunnel that houses Big Thunder Mountain's third and final lift hill, falling onto the track in front of the train. The serious injury, and four other minor injuries, were said to have been caused when the "rock" was flung upwards when the train ran into it during its ascent.
Commenting on Theme Park Tourist's story regarding the accident, "Janet O'K" claimed that this version of events is not accurate, saying:
"I was in the final carriage of the train with my family. The scenic "rock" did not fall onto the track, but fell onto the chimney stack of the locomotive at the front. This obviously raised the height of the front of the train, so that when it entered the final tunnel there was not enough clearance at the tunnel entrance, and the architrave surround was smashed showering the passengers with flying debris, which is what caused all of the injuries."
"If that wasn't enough, when the train was finally stopped in the tunnel, we were left in the dark, with many passengers panic struck, because we could hear the other train still in momentum, wondering if it was going to plow into the back of us. It was a truly terrifying experience."
Theme Park Tourist has contacted the commenter via e-mail, and has agreed to wait for a response from the local Prefecture (which is carrying out an investigation into the accident) before providing any further details.
The alternative version of events would mean that the injuries were caused not in the tunnel housing the lift hill, but instead in the final tunnel that carries the train back under the Rivers of the Far West to Big Thunder Mountain's station. At the current time, the commenter's story (and further posts by Bill Leics on the MiceAge forum telling a similar story) has yet to be corroborated. However, a photograph posted on the French-language fansite Disney Gazette does appear to show damage to the entrance of the final tunnel, which would appear to suggest that it was struck by something on top of the train.
In his posts, Leics claims that ride operators failed to stop the train before it descended into the tunnel, despite having the ability to do so. It is also claimed that the first staff to reach the scene failed to check the whole train for passengers with injuries, instead focusing on the first casualties they found.
Leics also disputes the claim that four of the injured guests were able to continue their day at Disneyland Park following light medical treatment. He claims that the experience of sitting in the darkened tunnel, fearing that the next train would smash into the back of the one carrying the injured passengers, would have left many of the affected passengers traumatised.
The 38-year-old French man who suffered the most serious injury was taken to the Beaujon hospital in Clichy-sur-Seine, and has now been discharged. Big Thunder Mountain itself has been closed since the incident, and is expected to remain so until an investigation is completed. The coaster was already due to be closed to refurbishment from May 9 through May 27, and is therefore likely to be out of action for at least a month.