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A woman sues Disney World over severe injuries on a water slide

A woman has sued Walt Disney Parks and Resorts for negligence, claiming a ride down a water slide at Florida's Disney World left her severely injured.
John Raoux
A woman has sued Walt Disney Parks and Resorts for negligence, claiming a ride down a water slide at Florida's Disney World left her severely injured.

A woman has sued Walt Disney Parks and Resorts after she says she sustained severe "gynecologic injuries" on a water slide at Florida's Disney World, causing her to be hospitalized.

According to her lawsuit, Emma McGuinness was on a family trip in October 2019 to celebrate her 30th birthday when she was hurt while riding down the Typhoon Lagoon water park's fastest, tallest slide.

After descending the 214-foot slide, called Humunga Kowabunga, the standing water at the ride's bottom abruptly brought her to a rapid stop, forcing her swimsuit into a painful "wedgie," the lawsuit says.

"She experienced immediate and severe pain internally and, as she stood up, blood began rushing from between her legs," the complaint states, adding that McGuinness was hospitalized.

McGuiness' injuries included "severe vaginal lacerations," damage to her internal organs and a "full thickness laceration" that caused her bowel to "protrude through her abdominal wall," her lawsuit says.

The suit, filed last week in Orange County, Fla., where the park is located, accuses Disney of negligence in neither adequately warning riders of the injury risk nor providing protective clothing, such as shorts, to riders. It claims at least $50,000 in damages.

Walt Disney World did not respond to a request for comment.

On the Humunga Kowabunga water slide, riders, who do not use a raft or tube, can approach a speed of 40 mph, according to the complaint.

"Brace yourself for the ride of your life as you race down Mount Mayday at a 60-degree angle," Disney's website says. "You won't know what's coming as you zoom 214 feet downhill in the dark and spray your way to a surprise ending!" The park's safety policies prohibit guests from wearing shoes, flotation devices, goggles or swim masks on the ride.

Before sliding down, riders are instructed to cross their ankles in order to lessen the risk of injury — yet park guests are not informed of that injury risk, the suit claims.

McGuinness began the ride in the recommended position, she says. But as she went through the slide, her body "lifted up" and became "airborne," the suit claims, which "increased the likelihood of her legs becoming uncrossed."

Afterward, her impact into the standing water at the bottom of the slide caused her swimsuit "to be painfully forced between her legs and for water to be violently forced inside her," the suit states.

"The force of the water can push loose garments into a person's anatomy — an event known as a 'wedgie,' " the lawsuit claims. "Because of a woman's anatomy, the risk of a painful 'wedgie' is more common and more serious than it is for a man."

McGuinness' lawyers did not respond to a request for comment.

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Becky Sullivan has reported and produced for NPR since 2011 with a focus on hard news and breaking stories. She has been on the ground to cover natural disasters, disease outbreaks, elections and protests, delivering stories to both broadcast and digital platforms.
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