After highly (and not-so-highly) publicized events in which at Walt Disney World’s ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’ both a man and a child suffered finger lacerations/partial loss and even going back to an incident in 2005 where a child lost part of his thumb on Disneyland’s ‘Storybook Land Canal Boats,’ a patent application has been published that hopes to reduce — if not eliminate — such injuries. The unfortunate aspect, however, is that the original filing date for the application, titled ‘Dynamic Roll/Pitch Stabilizer for Use During Loading and Unloading of Small Passenger Boats’ is February 12, 2013 — long before the recent ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ incidents.
Developed by Walt Disney Imagineer William Willcox, the system intends to stabilize vehicles by using ‘two or more pairs of spaced-apart flexible bellows or air bags.’ Although intended to be used for any small watercraft (1 – 50 passengers), the patent application does discuss the potential implementation at amusement parks in-depth. In fact, one of the larger safety concerns the application seeks to address is the gap that exists between the boat and the dock as passengers embark/disembark as well as the swaying of the boat which can complicate matters by causing disorientation.
By using a minimum of two pairs of the bellows, the system creates a minimum of four points of contact so that the top and bottom of each side of the boat can be addressed individually, avoiding further upsetting of the boat’s state. The bellows would actually be custom fitted to form-fit the vehicle, which means that the system is ideal in the theme park environment where only specific boat forms are being used at any time.
As an added benefit, the patent application theorizes that the system can be used to accommodate a high-speed attraction.