Disneyland employee charged with having destructive device

Reuters News
Posted: May 30, 2013 1:59 PM

By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Disneyland employee was charged on Thursday with possessing a destructive device, two days after a small explosion prompted evacuation of the Mickey's Toontown section of the California theme park, prosecutors said.

Disneyland vendor Christian Barnes is accused of being in possession of two water bottles filled with dry ice, which both exploded in the park on Tuesday, the Orange County District Attorney's Office said in a statement.

The second explosion, near a Toontown trash can, prompted the evacuation of that area of the park for about two hours, according to the district attorney's office.

Barnes was taken into custody later that evening by Anaheim police, who discovered evidence of a dry ice explosion. Authorities had previously described only one explosion at the park.

Barnes, a 22-year-old resident of Long Beach, California, faces a maximum of six years in prison if convicted on the single charge of "possession of a destructive device in a public place."

A Walt Disney Co. spokeswoman has said the incident appears to have been a prank and that the theme park was working closely with local authorities. She said the company was considering whether to suspend or terminate Barnes.

Disneyland, located in Anaheim 35 miles southeast of Los Angeles, is Disney's original theme park and one of the top tourist attractions in the United States.

The 57-year-old park attracted more than 16 million visitors in 2011, the most recent year for which statistics were available, according to the trade group Themed Entertainment Association.

Toontown is a theme area aimed at younger children, who can visit the cartoon-style homes of Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Grant McCool)