50 of The Scariest Ride Malfunctions To Ever Happen At Disney Parks
Disney parks are known as "the happiest place on Earth," but that's not the case for everyone. Thousands of people have been injured and even killed at Disneyland and Disneyworld. Millions of people have visited the parks, and the only damage they have suffered has been to their pocketbooks.
The parks are full of complicated, whirring machinery, and tens of thousands of people are in the park at any given time. As a result, there are endless opportunities for catastrophes to strike.
A Disabled Man Was Stuck For 40 Minutes On "It's A Small World"
In 2009, a quadriplegic man, Jose Martinez, got stranded on a ride for forty minutes due to a glitch on "It's a Small World." Employees were able to evacuate all of the passengers except for Jose and his wife.
He was eventually safely evacuated from the ride but sued Disney for not having proper procedures in place to evacuate people with disabilities. In 2013, a jury awarded Martinez eight thousand dollars for enduring the tortuous experience.
A 20-Foot Oak Tree Fell At Disneyland
In 2001, a twenty-foot oak tree fell at Frontierland near a loading dock for one of the Rivers of America rides. There were twenty-seven guests and two cast members injured, including three young children.
It took ten ambulances to transport the injured people to the hospital, but thankfully, there were no serious injuries. Investigators believe that strong winds had compromised the forty-year-old tree. They closed the area down for the day and removed the tree.
The PeopleMover Becomes The People Killer
The PeopleMover ride at Disneyland seems relatively harmless, with a maximum speed of two miles per hour. However, in 1967, a seventeen-year-old boy, Ricky Lee Yama, was crushed to death while on the ride.
Ricky was jumping between two of the moving cars right as the ride was entering a tunnel. However, he missed and fell onto the tracks and was run over by an oncoming train. They had to actually take apart the ride in order to get his body.
An 18-Year-Old Died On Disneyland's America Sings Attraction
Disney opened the America Sings attraction in 1974, and it featured a rotating theater and singing robot animals. Just nine days after the attraction opened, an eighteen-year-old hostess was killed at the end of one of the shows.
Somehow, she got stuck near a moving theater wall as the show rotated back to its starting position. It was a horrible, gruesome death, and her parents were given a small settlement. The attraction was officially shut down in 1988.
Death On Christmas Eve At Disneyland
On Christmas Eve in 1998, tragedy struck at Disneyland. The large Columbia ship was arriving at a dock when an employee jumped from the ship to secure its rope around a mooring post. The cleat was not strong enough to stop the moving ship, and as the ship moved forward, the metal cleat tore from the ship's hull and flew toward a crowd.
The cleat ripped through the employee's ankle, hit Luan Phi Dawson in the back of the head, and hit Dawson's wife in the face. They were all rushed to the hospital, but Dawson died two days later, and the incident resulted in a settlement worth more than two million dollars.
Drowning In The Rivers Of America
In 1973, eighteen-year-old Bogden Delaurot and his ten-year-old brother decided to hide in the park past closing time. They decided to hide on Tom Sawyer Island, but when they decided to leave, they realized there was no way off the island unless they called for help.
They decided to swim across the Rivers of America, even though the younger boy didn't know how to swim. Bogden carried his brother on his back as he swam to shore, but he tragically drowned halfway across the river. The ten-year-old managed to stay afloat until he was rescued.
Death On Big Thunder Mountain
In 2003, a car on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad partially derailed. The crash took the life of twenty-two-year-old Marcelo Torres and injured ten more passengers. The workers had noticed some weird sounds coming from the train, but no maintenance was done.
They later found out that a mechanic didn't tighten a couple of bolts or attach a safety wire to the wheel assembly. This mistake allowed the train to separate from the track. The workers had to be re-trained, and Disney was forced to admit responsibility for the incident.
The Roger Rabbit Ride Tragedy
In 2000, there was a tragic accident on Disneyland's Roger Rabbit ride. A four-year-old named Brandon Zucker fell out of a "taxicab" on the Roger Rabbit Cartoon Spin Ride, and another vehicle rolled over him. It took emergency personnel ten minutes to finally free the young boy, and he had already gone into cardiac arrest and required resuscitation.
Brandon suffered irreversible brain damage and other serious injuries. He struggled for several years and never spoke or walked again. Brandon died on January 26, 2009. It was determined that employees failed to secure the young boy's lap bar properly.
Not A Good Idea To Sneak Into Disneyland
In 1966, Thomas Guy Cleveland, a nineteen-year-old, was killed while he attempted to sneak into Disneyland. He climbed over the sixteen-foot fence and onto a monorail track.
However, a security guard noticed him and shouted at Thomas to watch out for the approaching monorail. Thomas jumped onto a fiberglass canopy beneath the track but was struck by the underside of the monorail car. His body was drug forty feet down the track.
Disneyland's First Fatality
In 1964, a fifteen-year-old boy died while riding on the Matterhorn Bobsled. He had unbuckled his seatbelt right when the ride approached the top of the mountain.
When the ride went flying down the hill, the teen stood up, lost his balance, and was thrown out of the car onto the track below. The fall caused broken ribs, a fractured skull, and several internal injuries. Sadly, he never regained consciousness and died three days later.
Accident On Space Mountain Injured Nine Passengers
In 2000, the Space Mountain roller coaster at Disneyland made a sudden stop because a wheel assembly had come loose from one of the cars. It was first reported that the accident only caused minor injuries to nine passengers. However, it was later revealed that the park covered up the severity of the accident.
Jonathan Woodcock and his wife were two of the riders that were injured. Jonathan suffered thirteen bulging disks, nerve damage down the spine, broken teeth, and a dislocated jaw. His wife had two herniated disks and suffered permanent damage to a knee, shoulder, and hip.
Young Girl Lost A Finger At Disneyland
In 2001, Priscilla Figueroa, a six-year-old enjoying her day at Disneyland, lost most of a finger. The young girl slipped off a playground while her finger was stuck in the trigger of a toy gun.
As a result, two-thirds of her left index finger was ripped from her hand as she fell. The incident was never reported because there is a legal loophole that only requires parks to report injuries that occur on moving rides.
Young Girl Was Hit By A Stray Bullet At Disneyland
In 1990, an eight-year-old girl, Nayeli Diana Placentia, was struck by a bullet while riding the Disneyland Railroad. The park is surrounded by several neighborhoods where locals apparently enjoy firing their guns into the air.
Doctors were able to remove the bullet from the girl’s lower back, and she made a full recovery. Disneyland offered to pay for Nayeli’s medical bills even though the bullet came from outside of the park. It was a freak accident.
Pirates Of The Caribbean Fourth Of July Accident
In 1967, on the fourth of July, a significant fire broke out in the newly-opened Pirates of the Caribbean ride. It was an electrical short that caused one of the drunken pirates to catch fire and spread throughout the scene.
Concerned guests reported it to the employees, but they just replied, saying, “yeah, it’s supposed to look like that.” The sprinkler system eventually put the fire out, and guests were escorted to the emergency exits. Thankfully, there were no injuries.
Splash Mountain Accident In 2000
Splash Mountain has seen several injuries throughout the years. In 2000, an eighty-year-old woman fell from the loading platform as she was getting off the log flume boat and landed in the water.
She was brought to the hospital, where she found out the fall had broken her leg. An investigation was launched, and it was determined that Disneyland was not at fault.
Splash Mountain Accident In 2010
Another Splash Mountain accident occurred in 2010. A man was injured when the Splash Mountain car he was riding in got stuck halfway through the ride. Employees tried to unload the passengers without tying down the vehicle for support.
The vehicle lurched forward and caused the man to fall backward, hitting his back on the hard plastic seat. It was later determined that Disneyland was negligent because they had overloaded the car. However, they did not award the man any money because he had pre-existing back problems.
Matterhorn Death In 1984
In 1984, a forty-seven-year-old woman lost her life on the Matterhorn at Disneyland. Dolly Regene fell from the bobsled as it crossed a flat bridge on its way to a cave on the mountain’s A-side onto her back in the middle of the track.
She was hit by an oncoming sled and the ride was immediately shut down. Her seatbelt was found unfastened and it is believed that she unbuckled it herself. Her family filed a five-million-dollar suit against the park, but it was settled outside of court.
Tragedy On Space Mountain
In 1979, a woman became ill in her roller coaster car on Space Mountain. While pulling into the unloading dock, she was told by personnel to remain seated in her car until it could be removed from service. However, the ride operator didn’t get the message and sent the rocket on another ride.
When the rocket arrived back at the station, the woman was barely conscious. The workers carried her to a bench and she was then taken to the hospital. She later died after remaining in a coma for a week.
A Drunk 18-Year-Old Was Thrown From Space Mountain
In 1983, an eighteen-year-old named James Higgins was thrown from his Space Mountain rocket. He was thrown into a wall and landed in an area five feet below the track.
His friends discovered he wasn’t on the ride anymore and alerted officials. James was in a coma with severe brain and spinal injuries for a month. Today, he is unable to recall how he fell from the ride.
Storybook Land Canal Accident
In 2005, a four-year-old boy was injured while riding the Storybook Land Canal boat ride. The boy’s hand was crushed between the dock and the edge of the boat, which caused a broken finger, and severed the tip of his thumb.
There was an investigation, and Disneyland was told to lower and repair the rubber edges and bumpers around the dock and boat. They also needed to inform passengers to keep their hands inside the boat at all times.
Adventure Through Inner Space
In the late 1960s, a young woman was injured when she fell out of her clamshell-shaped car. She was jumping from one car to another one, trying to catch up to her boyfriend, who was doing the same thing.
When she landed on the ground, the trailing car ran over her and she suffered several severe fractures, cuts, and lacerations.
Star Tours Tragedy
Not long after the Star Tours ride opened in 1987, it claimed its first victim. An inattentive maintenance worker was taking a shortcut through one of the cars instead of going around.
He forced open one of the car’s doors and realized that there was no platform on the other side of the car. He ended up falling eight feet to the ground and died. Another employee fell in 1995 from the ride’s catwalk and fractured her skull.
Submarine Voyage - Disney's Pearl Harbor Revenge
On Disney’s Pearl Harbor attraction, tragedy struck when a trainer was bringing a submarine online while a co-worker was ready to shove off from the dock in a second sub filled with almost forty Japanese passengers.
As the trainer’s sub was lifted out of the water, it caught the loaded submarine and busted out two of its portholes. Water immediately rushed in, causing the guests to panic.
Disneyland Bus Accident
In 1985, a seven-year-old girl was run over by a Disneyland bus. She was walking across the parking lot with her uncle, looking for their car, when she fell under a moving bus that crushed her.
She was pronounced dead at the scene. Sadly, since 1964, at least eleven people have died as a result of incidents at the park. Those incidents include seizures, drownings, stabbings, and several accidents with rides.
A Christmas Fantasy Parade
In 2018, something went horribly wrong during the Christmas Fantasy Parade. A float with Santa Claus on his sled partially collapsed during a performance of A Christmas Fantasy Parade.
It caused the sled’s front to fall downward quickly and Santa to be thrown off the sled. He was left dangling by his safety harness. The actor managed to walk away unassisted and without any injuries. Performances resumed later that day.
Women In Wheelchair Dies After Riding Jungle Cruise
In 2021, a sixty-six-year-old woman named Joanne Aguilar was visiting a Disney Park in a wheelchair. She wanted to go on the Jungle Cruise ride, but no wheelchair-accessible boats were available. However, she was told that she and her daughters could ride on the regular boat.
However, when the ride ended, her daughter tried to get her off the boat but fell back and suffered a compound fracture in her leg. Joanne died a few months later from septic shock following an infection. Her daughters filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the park.
A Deadly Accident At a Disney Stage Show
In 2003, a thirty-six-year-old Disney stage technician, Christopher Bowman, climbed up a catwalk in the Hyperion Theater in the Disneyland theme park California Adventure. He was up there to prepare the realistic 'magic carpet' for an Aladdin live show.
However, he fell at least forty-two feet and suffered severe head injuries. A few weeks later, he died, and the investigation showed that the work platform wasn't safe. Disney was ordered to pay fines totaling only a little more than eighteen thousand dollars.
Kali River Rapids Accident
In 2007, there was an accident on the Kali River Rapids ride. During an emergency exit, an employee and five guests were injured when the exit platform disengaged underneath them.
The victims were transferred to the hospital and treated for their injuries. Since the incident, Disney has removed the platform and implemented a much safer system.
Primeval Whirl Accident In 2007
In 2007, a sixty-three-year-old cast member died from a brain injury. She was hit by a ride vehicle on Primeval Whirl after falling from a restricted area of the ride platform.
In 2008, OSHA fined Disney more than twenty-five thousand dollars and charged them with five safety violations. In 2011, a fifty-two-year-old cast member also sustained head injuries while working on the ride. Sadly, he later died as well.
Spaceship Earth Accident
Spaceship Earth ride at Disney World looks like a giant ball, and inside is a slow-moving attraction that journeys through the history of mankind's evolution. In 1999, a five-year-old boy, Austin Delgado, was riding on Spaceship Earth when he tried to exit his cart onto a moving platform.
However, he fell and was seriously injured. He was transported to the hospital, where he was treated for an open compound fracture. He broke his right leg and injured his groin.
Tragedy In 1994 On "It's A Small World"
In 1994, a six-year-old girl was riding on "It's a Small World" when she fell out of one of the ride's boats. She fell while the boat was in the landing area when an incoming boat then struck her.
The young girl suffered a broken hip, a broken arm, and a collapsed lung. She was taken to the hospital and was able to fully recover from her injuries. They closed the ride for inspection, but it was reopened the following day.
Jungle Cruise Boats Sank
The Jungle Cruise ride at Disney World has seen its share of accidents and issues. In 2020, guests on the ride had a little scare when a Jungle Cruise boat sank while they were on it.
The boat quickly filled with water, but passengers were able to get off with the help of Cast Members. No injuries were reported, but the ride was shut down for a few hours. Videos and images spread online showing passengers standing in the water.
Malfunction Leads To 90 Minutes On "It's A Small World"
"It's a Small World" ride at Disney is very popular, but it also can be annoying. By the time the ride is over, most people won't want to hear that song again for a long time. However, a reporter named Molly got stuck on the ride for ninety minutes.
The boats stopped near the exit, but she had to wait an hour and a half while the workers helped everyone off the ride. There were no injuries, but imagine listening to that song for ninety minutes.
The Enchanted Tiki Room Ride Malfunction Caused A Fire
The Enchanted Tiki Room was one of Disney's favorite attractions, and it remained mostly unchanged over the years. It was later updated and renamed The Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management.
At one point, the ride malfunctioned and caused a fire to start inside the building. No one was injured, but Disney was forced to restore the attraction to its original state.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Fire
One of the newer attractions at New Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom is the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. There was an unfortunate incident in 2014 when a firework error occurred when a fire started at the attraction during the Wishes firework show.
The fireworks that happen every night, had just ended when embers landed on the building outside the ride and ignited a fire. They were able to quickly evacuate all of the guests, and no one was hurt. The ride reopened about an hour later.
Tower Of Terror Incident
Tower of Terror is a death-defying attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Riders are transported into their very own episode of The Twilight Zone. However, in 2005, a sixteen-year-old girl suffered some major medical complications after riding the Tower of Terror.
She first complained of a severe headache and was transferred to a hospital where she had surgery for intracranial bleeding. She spent about six months in the hospital and was eventually sent home. Her parents tried to sue Disney, but Disney claimed that the ride was operating under normal conditions.
In 1985, there was a very severe accident with the monorail at Disney World when a fire engulfed the rear car of the six-car Mark IV Silver monorail train. It was in transit from the Epcot station to the Transportation and Ticket Center.
When the fire broke out, passengers kicked out the side windows and climbed around the side of the train to reach the roof. They were eventually rescued, and seven passengers were hospitalized for smoke inhalation and other minor injuries. It was determined that the fire started because of a flat tire being dragged across the concrete beam and igniting from the frictional heat.
Riders Evacuated From Top Of Incredicoaster
One of the more popular attractions at Disneyland Resort is the Incredicoaster, which is located on Pixar Pier in Disney California Adventure. In 2022, guests riding the coaster got stuck at the top of the hill right before the big drop.
Cast Members had to climb up a steep ladder and evacuate each guest one by one. They had to exit the coaster, following each other single file down the stairs. One guest had to be carried out in a special chair due to her being unable to walk due to surgery.
Riders Poisoned On Pirates Of The Caribbean
In 1992, on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, there were thirty guests who got sick after the ride. Disney officials were unable to uncover what actually caused the mass illness.
However, it was suspected that it might have been caused by pocket mace or maybe a strong aerosol. The riders were experiencing breathing problems and skin issues from the unknown substance during the ride.
Kilimanjaro Safari Fire In 2008
In 2008, a small fire broke out in the front of a ride vehicle on the Kilimanjaro Safari at Disney World. Three people were treated at the scene for minor injuries, and one woman was taken to the hospital after she had jumped from the vehicle.
Also, a young girl was taken to the hospital for a knee injury after jumping from the vehicle. Disney Spokeswoman Andrea Finger stated that the truck caught on fire when an engine hose failed, but it was put out fairly quickly.
Alien Swirling Saucers Accident
In 2022, there was an incident on the Alien Swirling Saucers ride at Toy Story Land in Disney's Hollywood Studios. A fifty-nine-year-old woman suffered injuries to her toes after riding the attraction.
The exact details of the accident were not revealed, but some think she got hurt due to not keeping her hands and feet inside the ride. She was taken to the hospital, but no other details were released.
Mission Space Illnesses
Mission Space at Disney has been known to cause issues with people, but mostly it's because of the person's underlying issue. From June 2005 until June 2006, the paramedics were called for one hundred and ninety-four Mission Space riders.
Most of the complaints were nausea, dizziness, and vomiting. Out of those riders, twenty-five people passed out, twenty-six had difficulty breathing, and sixteen reported chest pain or irregular heartbeats.
Cast Member Dressed As Pluto Tragedy
In 2004, a Cast Member dressed as Pluto lost his life. A thirty-eight-year-old man, who had worked at the park for eight years, was run over by the Beauty and the Beast float. It happened at Magic Kingdom during the Share a Dream Come True Parade.
Disney representatives stated that very few people witnessed the accident. However, it led OSHA to fine Disney sixty-three hundred dollars for having employees in restricted areas.
Young Boy Drowned In The Moat Surrounding Cinderella's Castle
In 1977, there was a tragedy at Cinderella's Castle at Magic Kingdom at Disney World. A four-year-old boy, Joel Goode, climbed over a fence, fell in the moat surrounding the castle, and drowned.
His parents sued the park for negligence, saying that the fence around the moat was too short. She was only awarded one and a half million dollars because the judge stated she was fifty percent at fault for the incident.
Peter Pan's Flight Accident
In 2006, there was an accident on Peter Pan's Flight at Disney. A seventy-year-old man was injured after he became pinned underneath one of the ride's vehicles.
He fell from the conveyor belt and suffered serious injuries. The man was taken by helicopter to Orlando Regional Medical Center with life-threatening injuries. The ride was shut down for the remainder of the day.
Man Hit On The Head While Riding Space Mountain
In 1998, another accident happened on Space Mountain in Frontierland at Disney. A thirty-seven-year-old man was hit in the head by a falling object while on the ride.
His left arm was injured, and he suffered from short-term memory loss. In addition, he lost his job because of everything. After the accident, workers discovered a camera and a candle on the bottom floor of Space Mountain.
Teen Injured At The Haunted Mansion
In 1991, a fifteen-year-old girl was injured while on The Haunted Mansion ride. She was critically injured after she fell onto the ride's tracks. She was jumping from one car to another and fell onto the track.
The teen was dragged under a moving car for about fifty feet before the ride stopped. She was airlifted to the hospital, where she had emergency surgery for head and facial injuries. In 2007, another woman fell and broke her hip while exiting the ride.
Splash Mountain Log Flume Boats Sank
In 2020 and 2022, Splash Mountain had several incidents. In 2020, one of the log flume boats started to sink underwater with guests in it. A Cast Member told them not to exit the vehicle because standing on a platform on the side of the ride poses a "safety hazard."
Then in April 2022, another log flume boat began to sink, and guests had to be evacuated. Finally, in July 2022, a third log flume boat sank. It happened towards the end of the ride, and the guests had to be evacuated again.
Dumbo Ride Accident
An accident happened in 1989 when the Dumbo ride tipped to a forty-five-degree angle. The passengers fell from their seats and were dragged along the concrete walkway surrounding the ride.
They determined that a bracket connected to the arm had broken. A similar malfunction happened to a thirteen-year-old girl. After that second incident, Disneyland got rid of the ride and built a new one.