Disneyland dry-ice explosion: employee did it twice

More on the dry-ice explosion that triggered an evacuation of Toontown in Disneyland: it appears that the employee who put dry-ice in a sealed bottle in order to cause a loud bang and some water vapor did the same thing earlier in the day in another part of Disneyland. That seems like pretty authoritative proof that this was a premeditated attempt to cause alarm and not absentminded improper waste-disposal:

The Orange County district attorney's office says the first dry-ice explosion took place about 4 p.m. Tuesday outside Toontown shortly after Barnes was ending his shift and a colleague was taking over the vending cart with drinks.

Several minutes later, Barnes is accused of taking a second water bottle from the cart and walking toward the employee break room. While passing through Toontown, Barnes allegedly placed a second water bottle with dry ice in a trash can before leaving the area.

They're charging him with a felony and he's facing six years in jail for a prank that would have barely rated being fired a decade or two ago.

Disneyland worker charged in dry-ice blast 'wouldn't hurt anyone' [Mike Anton and Andrew Blankstein/LA Times]

(via The Disney Blog)

(Image: ToonTown sign, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from bfurlong's photostream)


    1.  Not if you do it for science.  Heck, if you lob a Drano bottle bomb, (which is actually far more dangerous) at a school, you might go all the way to space camp.

    1.  In my experience, Cory cares a great deal about Disney.  Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom was set in Disney World, and I know they were a plot point in Makers.

  1. It’s a different world.  What would have merely startled people a decade or so ago, could generate terror in a crowd today.  This incident didn’t seem to incite a public panic, so I would hope that would be taken into account.  However, considering the ravenous nature of prosecutors, I wouldn’t count on it.  I’m sure they are bent on “sending a message.”  It’s difficult for me to say if I feel they would be wrong.

    1. And 300 years ago you could panic an entire town and incite them to murder by claiming that a soured well was the result of witchcraft.

      The “wisdom of crowds” isn’t, so much.

      1. This is true. Except, unlike witchcraft, explosions and their death related side-effects can be very, very real.

        1. disregarding, of course, the 30,000 some folks burnt as witches (as the result of crowd fears)

        2. Your original post strongly implied that it is the degree of public panic that should determine the proper severity prosecutorial efforts, not the reality of the threat.

          Further, you stated that you were unsure whether a severe punishment–such as six years in jail– to “send a message” was overreach or not.

          Finally, this is dry ice in a soda bottle, which isn’t going to produce any “death related side-effects.”It’s the difference between dealing with what’s real and dealing with what isn’t.

          1. a) that was me musing on the internet about an issue I saw as a personal ethical quandry, not me serving on this kid’s jury…so…???

            2) if the court finds he should serve 6 years, that is not overreach…it is the law.  Again, personal ethical quandry.

            $) The average person will likely not be able to tell the difference between a dangerous explosion and a harmless one.  This is how the special effects industry stays in business.  People injured in the second explosion in Boston heard the first one but were not hurt by it. But did that make their predicament less dangerous?  Obviously not.  That’s one reason why people hear explosion, people want to escape.  This causes alarm.  That is why inducing panic is a crime.  Not, however, a personal ethical quandry.  It sucks ass and is really, really mean.  Explosion?  At Disneyland?  Small children? Dry ice, irrelevant.

          2. I only hope that these are not federal charges with mandatory sentencing guidelines.  Pranking is the new terrorism, as well as legal prosecution.

          3. Very true.  However, a inciting panic charge was in a best case scenario.  He was charged with possessing a destructive device. That’s pretty hard core. I’d like to think that justice will prevail, but what that means is a tough call.  Maybe the dust will settle, he’ll pay a big fine, get some probation as a first-degree dumbass.  But dumbasses need to figure out that this $#!T ain’t funny anymore.

          4. #anon0mouse: Agreed. I’m hoping that the longer sentencing mentioned is meant as a general warning that this will be taken seriously in the future by prospective dumbasses considering doing the same, but that he gets off with little to no time. 

    2. So the crime is more serious because we have been frightened by the news media and our government into believing that there are terrorists lurking around every corner?
      (Along with strangers just waiting to snatch your little snowflakes if you take them off their leashes for 30 seconds)

      1. I’m pretty sure people have been frightened by ACTUAL bombs set off in crowds.  Where do you live?

        1. Yes, they have… when it happened, which is about 1/100000000 times we freak about something like this.

           And people have been frightened by planes crashing into their homes, gas mains destroying neighborhoods, their dogs going nuts and killing them, and getting a popcorn kernel stuck in their throat and choking to death, but it’s not something we spend all our time worrying about.

    3. What would have merely startled people a decade or so ago, could generate terror in a crowd today.

      The classic analogy is yelling “FIRE!” in a crowded theater.
      The fact that the guy did it in two spots, it’s hard to deny it was his intention to create a stampede, with no regard to the potential damage to other third-parties’ lives, in a park that caters explicitly to children.

      For what, the lulz?  Or payback, and to whom, exactly?  This is not a disgruntled employee, this is something else altogether and it’s dark and sick.  Sure the guy needs help and jail isn’t gonna fix it and in fact may make it worse, but if he didn’t visualize the full weight of the law thrust at him in this political climate… well the whole mindset is baffling to me.

    4. You make a good point. But it doesn’t come down to whether or not the “bomb” was actually capable of harming anyone, and it doesn’t come down to whether or not the crowd was actually incited to panic; it comes down to intent; a person who intends to cause panic which could result in injury (event through an “over-reaction” by a crowd) should be treated differently than someone who isn’t intending to cause panic. 
      Reading the original article it’s hard to tell what the intent was, but it does seem more like it was a prank on coworkers that was, at worst, reckless. If his intent was not to panic the crowd or force an evacuation, it shouldn’t be treated as a criminal act – one can’t be considered criminally reckless if no damage actually occurs, and one can’t be held accountable for a criminal act that lacked the requisite intent.

  2. Terrornoia aside, this is a particularly dangerous prank. From experience (on the receiving end), these will completely destroy a metal mailbox, which would put them at the explosive power of an M-80. To set and leave something like this in an area thick with little kids is beyond irresponsible.

    1.  Yeah…you have to consider what (if anything) was going through the kids mind. Was it to purposely cause disruption and fear, or was it as mentioned a ‘prank’ (and even a prank has unintended outcomes).

      Disney trash cans all have metal lids…could those have been sent up into the sky and fall down from this? And a loud explosion with dry ice ‘smoke’ in a crowded place becomes not ‘prank’.

    2. Please do a GIS of Disneyworld trashcans and tell me which ones are the same as a mailbox in size or composition.

      Then research just a little on how explosives work and how a baffle works.

      You know the old saw about the difference between a firecracker held in an open hand and one clenched in a fist, right? Your mailbox anecdote is the clenched fist. The trashcans are generally high density composite board with some kind of plasticized heavy paint or cladding on the outside and either a metal or plastic bin on the inside. 1) plenty of room for expansion of even a 2 liter (IIRC these bombs were more likely the 22oz Aquafina type bottles) to expand and fill the volume 2) made of multiple layers of very durable and, in the case of the inner bin, more importantly flexible material. I have some 30 y/o history with suburban IEDs from dry ice to powder fine gunpowder to whatever fireworks we could fuck with and assure you that the only time a trashcan is going to shatter is if you’re dealing with something MUCH more potent than even a 72oz dry ice bomb*.

      *Unless it is a plastic bin in the middle of winter. Those fuckers will shatter.

      1.  You did a lot of work for that post.

        But to sum up…”Things that ‘boom’ can cause concern and panic; but it’s all cool because I”m a edgy kinda dude and the public are idiots for not appreciating my art”.

        1.  Ok, I’ll edit for brevity:

          “No, STFU you’re wrong and know fuckall about that which you’re speaking on.”

          Because that’s all it takes, just tell people they are wrong and don’t give any indication of why you came to that conclusion.

          /People who think my post = “a lot of work” strike me as those who couldn’t be bothered to do even the most basic writing assignment to complete high school or are business majors at a public college.

          1.  Whoooo…That’s rather nice, elitist…entitled, and snobby all the same post. But with a Portlandian flair—-good job!

          2.  To Antinous.

            Did you read the screed?

            /People who think my post = “a lot of work” strike me as those who
            couldn’t be bothered to do even the most basic writing assignment to
            complete high school or are business majors at a public college.

            That sounds to me like a tweedy jerk compaining….do you really want a break down of that post? First there’s complaining about writing assignments in high school and then the old saw of about  public colleges..and business majors. OH MY..I’m sOOOO sorry that could possibly be considered a elliet screed from someone.

            Whooo….my bad there.

          3. Can’t resist:

            When it comes to my “elitism” regarding business majors in public schools: As a T/A at a public university for a department that (attempted) to broaden the overall education experience for underclasspersons I grew to have a general disdain for them. I’m also an “elitist” when it comes to guys in rugby shirts at outdoor music festivals. Un-strangely there is a lot of cross pollination between the brodude and business major demographic. I know a few post-bac business graduates from private schools (I’m sure knowing people who went to private university is really super elitist to you) and none of them even approach the level of moronic lack of self-awareness and egomania I’ve experienced with undergraduate public school business majors.

            Your use of ellipses and your general approach to grammar is sophomoric considering your ego.

            Have you been temporarily suspended from FARK or something equally traumatic?

            None of the above constituted “a lot of work”, btw; and I’m an incredibly lazy person who is quite averse to “work” so I would know.

        1.  If the OP wants to claim a dry ice bomb blew up one of those monsters I’d call them a liar. Those are like 1 or 2 gauge steel at least (the mailboxes). The trashcans you show are certainly not weaker than the composite fiberboard ones I was looking at in outer material and have the same baffling taking place on the inside (also from Disneyland not Disneyworld) and look to be something like 6 gauge steel.

      2. My dry-ice bomb blowing up a mailbox anecdote was solely intended to give people here who don’t know (including Cory who mentioned that the only outcome was “a loud bang and water vapor”) a better idea of the actual explosive power of a PET bottle pressurized to failure. I think everyone here knows full well that one of these would not cause an open-topped commercial trash can to explode. But if you’ve been fucking around with IEDs as you say, you know how powerful these are. If someone had their hand in or face over the trash can opening when one of these went off, or picked up an oddly bubbling water bottle, they could be seriously injured. Search youtube for these things going off, and think about the cold-embrittled sharp-edged PET shrapnel hitting a child’s face. That was my point.

  3. he’s facing six years in jail for a prank that would have barely rated being fired a decade or two ago

    Is there any doubt that in this day and age people know that this is the likely outcome? Maybe the real story isn’t some guy going to jail for doing something asinine, but that the threat of great punishment was no discouragement to performing the crime.

    1.  Meanwhile I wonder what the punishment was for the guy who brought a gun into Disneyland and left it on the seat of a ride?

  4. This is  no different to shouting “Fire!” in a theatre. That’s a seemingly innocuous activity which could cause mass panic, so is this.

    1. This is no different to shouting “Fire!” in a theatre.

      This is actually a little bit like charging the person who yelled “Fire!” as an arsonist.

      1. Quite a lot like that, except nobody was trampled in the stampede at Disney, as far as I can tell.

        1. There wasn’t a stampede at all. Park security made the decision to evacuate based on “an abundance of caution.”

        1. A device which posed relatively little physical danger in itself. Not particularly analogous to an act of arson.

          1. A generation from now, the onion-belts will be sitting around on the porch, drinking Zima and reminiscing about where they were when the Disneyland Bombings of ’13 happened.

  5. Ironically as a kid dry ice was something I’d only experienced through science.  Now they sell it at the grocery store, well at least for the time being.

  6. Well, let’s see.  You get like 7 years for premeditated murder, so 6 years in prison for the equivalent of lighting a firecracker… 

    Seems about right.  

    Although I’m not very good at math.

  7. I am puzzled by the people who are defending the actions of this guy and playing down the fear of the people who were near the explosion.  If you heard an explosion (one louder than a gunshot, according to the previous post), why would you immediately assume it was harmless?  If someone were to go into a crowded building and play the sound of a gun going off, should they be excused because they were just pulling a prank?

    [Side note:  The severity of the punishment is a completely different discussion and one worth having.]

    1. [Side note:  The severity of the punishment is a completely different discussion and one worth having.]

      Actually it’s the discussion most of us are trying to have right now. I haven’t seen any comments to the effect that he didn’t do anything wrong.

  8. Cory, I think you could do this discussion a big favor by answering a question: how would you feel if this happened in a gradeschool cafeteria?

  9. I’m not implying a gradeschool is worse, I was looking for a non-Disney equivalent. And maybe what Cory thinks about the issue is irrelevant. But his statement statement struck me (and seemed to strike others) as a bit “what’s the big deal?” and it rankled. I’ll head back to Lilo’s Tumblr now.

  10. If shooting blank bombs in a crowded situation then would shooting blank guns into a crowd be all fine and cool?

  11. Based on the number of fear-based reader responses to this post, I would say everyone, while counting grains of the sand of justice, has missed the real point: “the terrorists” did what they did because they wanted to change this country, and they did; comments like the ones in this thread show that the terrorists have indeed won. They have turned Americans into a bunch of weenies piling on the bandwagon of begging the government to do something strong to protect them from imaginary dangers. This is where authoritarianism comes from, and is why we can’t have nice things.

  12. I wonder what would have happened if a white kid had done the same pranks (possibly informal experiments)?
    Would they choose to make them an example out of them or would it be community service and heavy fines?
    I wonder how much pressure Disney is putting on the court?
    On the LA Times website the staff writer keeps mentioning that it is a “different time” as if severity of punishment is more related to zeitgeist then actual damage caused.
    The charge just seems too severe for what actually happened.

  13. a prank that would have barely rated being fired a decade or two ago

    I’m thinking a decade ago things would probably have been worse for him.  Not a happy time, 2003. 

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