Two children caused thousands of dollars worth of damage to a very rare double-decker Disney bus Monday morning at the Volo Auto Museum.
Brian Grams, the museum’s director, said the children climbed into the bus, took the vehicle out of park and sent it rolling 80 feet down a soft hill until it struck a tree. The children were not hurt but the crash bent the bus’ frame, cracked the radiator and mangled the decorative brass shell that goes around the radiator.
Grams said the bus hit the tree straight on at its sturdiest point and that the damage would have been much greater had it been just a few inches to the left or right.
“It could have hit one of the headlights which would have crunched a lot easier,” Grams said. “And if it missed the tree, there’s a few hundred thousand dollars worth of rare cars on the other side.”
Grams said the bus is just one of six ever built by the Disney Company. The museum purchased the bus in 2014 for $250,000 spent another $100,000 to $150,000 to restore it, Grams said.
Grams has filed an insurance claim, and the museum’s insurer has been in touch with the children’s parents’ insurance provider. Once they get the go-ahead, they’ll have the bus fixed and the decorative brass part restored.
“They’ll be able to straighten the dents out and replate it,” Grams said. “But the car’s going to be without its nose for the next six months.”
The bus debuted at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, in 1956. In 1982, it was moved to Epcot Center in Disney World in Orlando. It hasn’t had passengers since it was retired from Disney World in the 2000s.
The bus is usually on display inside the museum, but it was outside in an employees-only area so it could receive a tune up in advance of a special event next month. On August 11, the 62nd anniversary of the bus’ Disney debut, visitors will be able to ride the bus with costumed characters. Grams said despite the crash they will put a Band-Aid on it and have it ready for the special event.
Grams said museum staff are going to use the crash to teach guests that they are serious when they ask people not to touch the vehicles.
“It’s not just that we’re mean people and want to be selfish and don’t want you to touch our stuff,” Grams said. “It’s for the safety of the people and the safety of the vehicles as well.”
Grams said the bus was around 200 feet away from the guest area and there were several signs around telling people not to touch the vehicles, including one on the bus itself.