innoventions

On July 8th, 1974 (9 days after the attraction opened), 18 year-old Disneyland Cast Member Deborah ‘Debbie’ Stone became the first park employee to die on the job while she was serving as hostess for a showing of America Sings.

America Sings consisted of an outer ring of six theaters that rotated around various scenes on a fixed central stage. The hostess’s job was to greet audiences over a microphone from the left side of the stage and then, after the theater had rotated around the five musical scenes, to bid them goodbye.

At the end of each 24-minute show, there was a 45-second interval after the audience had left the theater in which the stage moved into position to start a new cycle. Somehow, Deborah got too close to the passway between the moving theater wall and the stationary stage wall.

When the attraction operated as the Carousel of Progress, the hostess would stand at the left end of the theater: safely behind the moving wall as it  approached the stationary wall in a clockwise direction. When America sings opened, the theater traveled the opposite direction: now turning counter-clockwise, she was precariously in front of the moving wall as it closed in on the stationary wall.

Fellow operators think she leaned back on purpose because when the building was used for the Carousel of Progress, it rotated in the opposite direction and was safe to lean back to talk to co-workers in adjacent theaters. But Debbie was a new hire; she’d never worked the Carousel of Progress. However it happened, Debbie became trapped as the moving wall closed against the stationary one. A guest in the theater next door heard her screams and alerted staff, but by the time Debbie was found she had been crushed to death.

In response to the accident, Disneyland swiftly installed sensor lights which alerted the ride’s operators if anyone moved too close to the walls. Later the ride was fitted with breakaway walls designed to prevent a repeat of the incident even if the sensor system failed.

I have heard over the years, various statements of Innoventions (of course, the space of the former America Sings) being haunted, with reports of cold drafts, mechanical failures of machinery of the fire alarms, odd feelings, etc - but nothing conclusive. An interesting story was shared by a established member not prone to exaggeration, however, on one of the popular Disney forums two years ago that caught my eye: (source link is here)

“About 11 years ago:
My wife, not knowing anything about America Sings, found herself, right in the middle of the happiest place on Earth, suddenly overcome when a great sense of doom/sadness/melancholy/etc and started crying for no reason…right there in the middle of Innoventions.

I tried to comfort her and asked her “what’s wrong” and she couldn’t come up with a reason….I asked her if she was “happy crying”, and she gave me this look, a look I will never forget, she was crying because she was scared, I could see it in her face….but she had no reason to be scared.

To this day we don’t know what happened there, it was gone by the time we got over to the starcade, and the rest of our vacation was uber awesome, but we still ponder over that strange experience.”

So, take that as you will, and if you venture inside Innoventions, be respectful and don’t ‘investigate’ openly or try and talk out loud to Debbie: after all, she may well still have CM friends or folks who know her working at the park, and it was a genuine tragedy and undeserved how she died. But merely keep your senses open, and who knows what might happen (or not).

My son gets to meet Captain America at Disneyland! He was very kind to him, spoke to him like an adult, and let him touch his shield before showing him 5 other shields and explaining them all to him. When I told him my son was nervous about his “upcoming mission” (per rumors of Captain America dying) he looked right at Wes and said, “Ultron will never be a threat if I have people like you believing in me.” And then they saluted each other. Just. Amazing.