Universal Orlando Resort Faces Lawsuit Over English Only-Warning Signs After Man Dies At The Park

A Guatemalan man suffered a heart attack after riding the "Skull Island: Reign of Kong" ride.

The "Universal" globe fountain in front of Universal Studios
tmanga / Pixabay

A Guatemalan man suffered a heart attack after riding the "Skull Island: Reign of Kong" ride.

A family is suing Universal Orlando Studios after a 38-year-old died after suffering a heart attack at the park two years ago, USA Today is reporting. Jose Calderon Arana, a Guatemalan man who did not speak English, told his family he wasn’t feeling well after riding the “Skull Island: Reign of Kong” ride. The ride is based on the King Kong franchise and uses 3D screens as well as animatronics. A sign outside of the ride warns that the ride may be too intense for those with prior heart issues — which Calderon Arana had.

“Warning! This ride is an expedition through the rough terrain of King Kong’s natural habitat,” a sign read. “The movement of the truck is dynamic with sudden accelerations, dramatic tilting and jarring actions.”

The sign goes on to suggest that people with heart conditions or abnormal blood pressure, back or neck conditions, and expectant mothers should not board the ride. It also had accompanying illustrations to depict the intense movements of the ride. Calderon Arana reportedly sat on a bench as the rest of his family went on another ride. When they returned, he had collapsed. He was later taken to a hospital where he ended up passing away. In addition to holding the park responsible for not having any signs in Spanish, the lawsuit also alleges that there was a delay in getting Calderon Arana proper medical attention.

“Universal was aware of the great number of tourists on their premises who do not speak English,” said the lawsuit filed this month in state court in Orlando.

According to Lou Pendas, the family’s personal injury attorney, it is not an outrageous idea to have multiple signs in languages such as English, Spanish, and French, so that those who speak other languages can properly decide whether to go on a ride or not.

“This isn’t a crazy request or expectation,” said Pendas. “It’s actually quite basic in this day and age. You are asking for international travelers. This is a mecca for tourism. This is a very basic thing that should be thought of for the safety of patrons.”

While there are no exact numbers regarding the number of international travelers that come to Universal Orlando Resort, it is estimated that 6.1 million of Orlando’s 72 million visitors in 2017 were coming in from outside of the United States. A little less than 900,000 visitors came from three Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America — Mexico, Argentina and Colombia, to be exact. Over 820,000 tourists came from Portuguese-speaking Brazil.

Tom Schroder, a spokesman for Universal, said in an email that the theme park resort doesn’t comment on pending litigation. Schroder was asked to comment about this lawsuit.