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Valrico woman sues Disney World over Jungle Cruise ride injury

TAMPA — A Valrico woman has filed a lawsuit against Walt Disney World alleging she was injured on the Jungle Cruise ride while visiting the Magic Kingdom for her daughter's sixth birthday party.

In the suit filed in Orange County, Stacey Holdorff says she was attempting to disembark the Jungle Cruise ride on Jan. 8 when another boat full of passengers rammed into the back of her boat, causing her to be thrown backward. Her daughter, Tiffany Johnston, slammed into her father's chest. A Disney cast member was also injured, the suit says.

Holdorff, 41, was taken to a hospital and, as a result of neck and spinal injuries, has been unable to work in her field as a licensed medical aesthetician, said her attorney, Brett Geer, during a news conference Monday. She can't sit or stand for extended periods of time and can't carry heavy weight.

Holdorff said the accident left a frightening impression on her daughter. She said she and her family were longtime annual pass holders and had visited Disney World hundreds of times in the past several years.

"Disney was a place we celebrated many milestones. It was her favorite," Holdorff said. "Watching her mom being carted away in an ambulance was devastating to her. She doesn't want to go back."

The suit filed Friday seeks damages in excess of $15,000, but her attorney said treatment for her injuries will cost "hundreds of thousands of dollars." A jury trial is sought.

Disney officials said they could not comment specifically on the lawsuit or discuss maintenance of the ride.

"We will respond to the lawsuit as is appropriate in court," said Bryan Malenius, a Disney spokesman.

Holdorff filed suit after learning she would need two surgeries stemming from the injuries and informal talks with Disney stopped, Geer said. Disney has said there is no surveillance video of the incident.

Holdorff said the accident has limited her neck movement and caused sleeping problems because of the chronic pain.

"It's a daily nuisance to do menial tasks that I used to take for granted, and it's getting worse," she said.

The Jungle Cruise simulates a riverboat cruise down rivers of Asia, Africa and South America. Guests board 1930s-style tramp steamers and go on a voyage past animatronic jungle animals. The attraction opened in the Magic Kingdom in 1971.

Valrico woman sues Disney World over Jungle Cruise ride injury 12/03/12 [Last modified: Monday, December 3, 2012 9:10pm]
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