So I go to Disneyland with my mom yesterday as we usually do quite often (yes, we are locals and premium AP holders) and we decided to invite this mother and her two kids along for their first ever Disneyland trip. They attend our church but being a single mom barely making ends meet, she could never afford to take them. When I heard that the kids had been named students of the month at their schools (one's in 7th grade and the other one's in 9th), and that the mom wanted to save up to take them there sometime, I decided to step in as a sort of fairy godfather and take them on the visit as a reward. We had a good time and got on most of the attractions throughout the day, in spite of the large Veteran's Day crowds, and everything was great right until we decided to go on Space Mountain.
The lady had gotten on all of the attractions, but complained of getting somewhat dizzy and nauseated when we got off of the Matterhorn. But later we all went to Indiana Jones and she was fine. However, knowing that she got dizzy before, when we got in line for Space Mountain I told them all what to expect (as I did for Indiana Jones and all other rides after the dizzy spell), and I asked her son to explain it to her (she didn't speak English). My mom even pointed out the pre-ride video that they show in the queue which warns potential riders about the nature of the ride. But she decided to get on it anyway.
When we got to the cars, we got separated. My mom and I got to ride first and the lady and the kids got put on the next car. When mom and I got off we were laughing and commenting on the great ride (it is one of our favorites), when we saw their call pull up... that's when all hell broke loose...
I immediately noticed she looked out of it, like she was in shock or something. As soon as she got off and started walking towards us at the exit, I noticed she was walking off balance. I thought "Uh-oh... she got dizzy again!" It was much worse than that. When she made it to where we were I asked her if she was ok and she started repeatedly saying no and hyperventilating. I tried to calm her down and that's when she completely lost it! She had a full-fledged-on terror/panic attack!
She started screaming and crying and collapsed on the floor in complete hysterics much to the bewilderment and astonishment of the cast members and the other guests, and to the dismay and fright of her poor kids... not to mention us.
It was all we could do try to calm her down and also try to calm down her crying kids who thought their mom was having a serious attack and was dying
. My mom carries a blood pressure monitor to check on herself once in a while, and when we checked on the lady her blood pressure was way off the charts!!! A foreign guest who was a registered nurse in Australia and had just exited the ride, came over to help while the cast members called for the park nurse and paramedics... yes... it got to that point. Many guests exiting were looking at us with concern and others with bemusement. They gave her oxygen and checked her up, but her attack was not subsiding, so my mom gave her a tranquilizer (with the permission of the nurses, of course) to try and help her calm down. By this time the cast members had closed the ride (I don't know when or if they reopened it, as this happened about 3 hours before closing time). When she was assured that more help was on the way, the Australian nurse left. We are sooooo very grateful for her help! I wish there were more people like her in the world!
When the attack was over and she finally calmed down, and the paramedics assured us that she was fine and they didn't think it was necessary to transport her to a hospital, they offered to escort us to First Aid so she could rest and catch her breath and we could decide what to do. They brought in a wheelchair and escorted us over there through backstage (the first time any of us saw any part of the DL backstage...). After checking on her one more time, the DL nurse left to attend to other guests. By now she was fine and so she decided she wanted to get out of the First Aid station. My mom and I were mortified to leave the poor kids with such a horrible last memory of DL on their first trip,
so we asked them all if they were up to going to It's A Small World to try and forget the incident by experiencing something calm, colorful and cheerful (the ride is decked in its beautiful Christmas makeover). They did, and so we went. Boy, it sure was the right call!!!! By the time we got off they were all smiling and cheerful again (and mom and I said a huge WHEW!!!
). We all went to the Finding Nemo Submarine ride afterwards, and the kids wanted to go on Autopia next. We still had some time before the park closed so we went. The lady's last ride was the subs as she didn't want to go on anything else (understandably so), so my mom offered to stay sitting at a bench with her while I took the kids on the last rides of the night... anything to help them forget that incident!!! After Autopia we managed to just make it to Star Wars, which was our last ride.
As a bonus, I bought them the picture they had taken with Mickey Mouse earlier that day and some souvenirs. I sure hope they remember the good stuff from this first Disneyland visit... one that's not gonna be easy to forget!!!
We got them all safely home and last I heard the lady was doing fine. But I know one thing for sure: She's never getting on Space Mountain or any other fast ride ever again!!!! Everything ended on a positive and bright note as she texted me to thank me and tell me they did enjoy the trip. I learned a lesson the hard way with all this though... after all, things could have been much, much worse had she really had an attack. NEVER EGG ON A PERSON TO GO ON A RIDE IF THAT PERSON EXPRESSES DISCOMFORT OR APPREHENSION!!!! YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT CAN HAPPEN. Though I didn't do that this time, I did do it in the past and I know I'll never do it again. I'll let people make their own decision whether to ride or not, and I'll always warn first timers what to expect in detail!!! No more surprises! This is one DL trip I'll never forget!!!