Three Things that Surprised Us About How Disney World Rides Are Tested

You may have hopped on the Disney World monorail, Spaceship Earth, or Peter Pan’s Flight dozens of times — but on how many of those occasions have you sat back and thought “Hmm. I wonder how and when this ride was last inspected?”

Disney World

Perhaps you’ve thought about it once or twice, or maybe it’s never even crossed your mind. You’re at Disney World, where the false sense of security is STRONG (until you hit a technical issue that requires an evacuation, maybe). Even if you’ve never considered just how the Mouse uses his mouseketools to ensure the attractions you love are in tip-top shape, it seems others have — namely, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida legislature. Over the past few weeks, some major talk has come up about changing how Disney World’s rides are inspected and how the monorail is evaluated for its safety. Now, we’re taking a look at some of the unique things this discussion has revealed and just how things could be changing soon.

Rides at Major Florida Theme Parks Are NOT Subject to State Inspection

The first thing you might not know is that rides at major Florida theme parks (including Disney World and other places — like Universal Studios and Sea World) have NOT been subject to inspection by the state of Florida for quite some time.

It’s all thanks to Florida Statutes 616.242. That law outlines safety standards for amusement rides and says it applies to all amusement rides within the state EXCEPT those that fall under the exception outlined in subsection 11. Subsection 11 says that the safety requirements in that law don’t apply to: “Permanent facilities that employ at least 1,000 full-time employees and that maintain full-time, in-house safety inspectors.”

Peter Pan’s Flight

It has been noted on many occasions that Disney falls under this exception. Perhaps that’s no surprise because it is a permanent place and employs around 75,000 in Florida (far more than the 1,000 required by law). But because Disney falls under this exception, that must mean it also maintains full-time, in-house safety inspectors. Again, that likely comes as no surprise given the number of rides in the parks, how often things can go wrong and rides have to shut down to be fixed, and Disney’s inclusion of the key of “safety” in its essential keys to the kingdom (a.k.a. its guiding principles in the park).

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

It’s worth noting that the current law does require these exempt permanent facilities to “file an affidavit of the annual inspection with the department on a form prescribed by department rule. The department may consult annually with the permanent facilities regarding industry safety programs.”

Rides at big theme parks aren’t the only things exempt from state inspections, though. There are also exemptions for certain playgrounds operated by schools, arcades, and select other things.

TRON Lightcycle / Run

So what’s happening now? Well, following Disney’s statement against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law (what critics called “Don’t Say Gay”), a number of changes have hit or been threatened to hit Disney by Florida Governor DeSantis. One of the latest things DeSantis has threatened to impact is Disney’s exception from state inspection of its rides.

In an April press conference, DeSantis announced some planned actions against Disney including filing legislation that would place Disney’s rides and attractions under inspection and oversight by the state’s Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services.

Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin

DeSantis said, “Building inspection, safety — all these other things that they were exempt from, when everybody else has to follow…if these are not good laws then everyone should be exempt, you shouldn’t just say one corporation should be exempt — so that’s already been done.”

DeSantis noted, “Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services…they have oversight over amusement park safety generally speaking except Disney’s been carved out of that over the years. Well, now they’re back in the game, so they’re gonna make sure that that’s done.”

Obtained via ClickOrlando Livestream

This particular change does seem to be targeted directly at Disney. DeSantis has indicated that the legislation that would be drafted to address this would (according to his belief) only apply to theme parks within a special district. Disney World is the only major Central Florida theme park that is located in a special district.

This means that other spots like SeaWorld and Universal Orlando would remain exempt from state inspection regulations.

Mad Tea Party during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

According to WESH 2 News, some have taken issue with this. State Senator Geraldine Thompson said, “I am fully supportive of greater oversight and inspections for amusement rides in Florida; however, to impose additional requirements only on Disney reeks of retribution and does not level the playing field for amusement parks.”

The regular Legislative session for this year concluded on May 5th, and state lawmakers did not take up a bill that would have required state inspections of Disney World rides.

Disney Reports Serious Injuries to the State

Another thing you might not know is that back in 2001, Disney (and some other companies) worked out a special deal about ride injury reports with the state of Florida. According to FOX 35, this deal allows Disney and those other companies to report serious injuries that take place within their respective locations on their own. 

This was, as the Orlando Sentinel calls it, a “voluntary agreement.” And it allows “the state’s major attractions to file regular reports about ride-related guest injuries that required at least 24 hours of hospitalization.”

Tower of Terror

The Sentinel points out that the attractions do regularly report their ride-related guest injuries, and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services then releases a quarterly report to summarize these things. In the latest theme park injury report, Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld reported seven injuries between January and March. No injuries were reported by Legoland or Busch Gardens.

When it comes to these injury reports, however, an investigation from the Orlando Sentinel in 2020 found that, reportedly, “details are scarce and can be vague or inaccurate.”

Rise of the Resistance

Recently, some legislation about inspecting theme park rides has been passed by the Florida legislature and signed by DeSantis. The new law addresses some of the concerns raised by the death of teenager Tyre Sampson on the now-closed Orlando Free Fall at ICON Park last year. But, the law’s proposals do not apply to the major theme parks.

Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway in Disney’s Hollywood Studios

So we’ll have to keep an eye out to see how ride inspections do change in the future, if at all.

The Monorail Also Falls Under an Exception

It’s not just Disney World’s traditional rides that fall under exceptions from state inspection though. The Disney World monorail is also not subject to state safety inspections.

DeSantis said, “This monorail is exempt. They exempted the Monorail from any safety standards or inspections…so they’re gonna go and make sure that the monorail is subject to oversight just like everything else would be in the state of Florida.” But those inspection rules are going to change.


Following DeSantis’ announcement that monorail inspections would change, an amendment addressing the monorail was introduced to one Florida Senate bill, that was later substituted for another. The key bill now is House Bill 1305. The bill was signed into law by DeSantis on May 11th.

The bill requires the Department of Transportation to “adopt by rule minimum safety standards” for “any governmentally or privately owned fixed-guideway transportation systems operating in this state which are located within an independent special district created by local act which have boundaries within two contiguous counties.”


This law does appear to be very narrowly drafted to impact Disney as no other theme parks are in a special district in Florida, much less a special district that has boundaries within 2 contiguous counties (in Disney’s case — Osceola and Orange).

In addition to safety standards, the law requires structural safety inspections for “any fixed-guideway transportation systems that are raised or have bridges, as appropriate.” State inspectors are required to follow appropriate safety protocols during inspections, which could include suspending the service of the system “to ensure the safety and welfare of inspectors and the traveling public during such inspections.” In other words, they could shut down the monorail to conduct an inspection if they deem it necessary.


Unless those inspections are done at very odd hours, suspending the monorail for an inspection could cause headaches for Disney and Disney guests as they try to make their way around the parks.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, state Senator Nick DiCeglie said that inspections would be scheduled at a time that works for both the state and Disney. DiCeglie said, “If there are any safety issues, having a complete suspension is really going to be an action of last resort.”


Some have also questioned whether this language would mean inspections would apply to the Skyliner. How this law gets implemented is something that remains to be seen, but we’ll keep an eye out for updates.

Will Anything ACTUALLY Change If the State Takes Over Ride Inspections?

So, thus far we have no bill addressing Disney World ride inspections — just the new law that affects the monorail. But if more Disney inspections become the responsibility of the state, will it actually CHANGE things and make things safer? People are divided on this.

According to FOX 35, Jakob Wahl, CEO of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) shared, “We know that Disney goes even beyond the existing ride safety standards…This is where we’re not sure how such a change actually would improve further the already excellent safety record of Disney.”

Flight of Passage in Pandora

WESH 2 News reports that Bill Kitchen, ride designer and President of U.S. Thrill Rides, feels similarly. Kitchen said, “That’s a ridiculous proposition. How can the state of Florida do a better job than Disney’s done for 50 years?” He continued, “There have been millions of people over the years enjoying Disney parks. Of course, there are going to be some accidents and incidents, you know, there’s never been a perfect park. There’s never been a perfect ride. There’s never been a perfect ride inspector. But they’re as close as you can get to being perfect.”

Kitchen also noted that there are 2 key things when it comes to inspections — the ride and the people trained to operate the ride. Kitchen said, “Nobody in the world does a better job than Disney. Nobody does a better job in the world of inspecting the rides and making sure that they’re safe.”


Others, however, feel differently. FOX quoted ride safety consultant Ken Martin as saying that these changes “would be the best thing that could happen to the citizens and visitors to the State of Florida.”

What do YOU think? Should Disney rides be subject to outside inspection and if they are, will it change anything? Tell us in the comments. For more about the Reedy Creek, DeSantis, and Disney drama, see our posts below.

And check back for more updates.

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The post Three Things that Surprised Us About How Disney World Rides Are Tested first appeared on the disney food blog.


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