Ah, the world of Disney. If you have ever been lucky enough to visit one of these magical places you know how happy the whole vibe is. The whole scene is just perfect, so clean, so fun, so family friendly. It is almost like Heaven on Earth when you are there. Well except for the fact that it is so expensive and surrounded by kids of course.
But I digress. Disney theme parks are places that are almost too good to be true. Of this there is no doubt. And why do they seem too good to be true? Well, because they are. All sorts of messed up things happen at Disney, and I am not just talking about some kid having an accident in his pants while he was on the “People Mover” (yes, I know someone who did that.).
While Disney is a special place, bad things happen there. People do weird things, people get violent, and sometimes, people even die. Let’s face it: any time you put thousands of people in a small space something bad is going to happen sooner or later, even if that place is filled with good cheer and Disney love. Let’s check out some of the worst things that ever happened there. Here are 15 of the worst incidents that ever went down at Disney theme parks.
15. The Death of Deborah Stone
It was 1974 and Deborah was just 18 years old and was working at Disneyland. On this particular night she was working at an attraction called America Sings. Unfortunately, she wasn’t where she was supposed to be. She was standing in the wrong place and was crushed to death between a revolving wall and a stationary platform. The ride had only been open for a few weeks, so the thought was at the time that a lack of training contributed to her demise.
14. Parade Death
There is nothing like a parade at Disney to get you into the whole scene. As long as no one dies, that is. In 2004 a cast member was dressed as Pluto and in a parade at Frontierland when he was crushed under a Beauty and the Beast float. His body had to be taken out by a forklift and Disney got nailed with a big fine by OSHA. I don’t know for sure but I imagine that just might have been slightly traumatic for any kids that were in the immediate area.
13. Pooh Gets Sued
“Piglet what day is it?” said Pooh. “It’s the day you have to go to court,” said Piglet. Okay, that is not really the way it went down but once a guy named Robert Hill was sued for allegedly slapping a girl while he was in costume. Hill showed up in court dressed as Pooh and danced around in an attempt to show the court he could not have done what he was accused of. He won the case so it must have worked, but also let’s be honest, who could call Pooh guilty? Not me.
12. Doctor Kicks His Kid in the Face
I know sometimes it is stressful to be on vacation with the family, but hey, here is a pro tip for all you dads out there. Even when they’re screaming and demanding more ice cream, no matter how much you want to, you just can’t kick your kids in the face. A 41-year old Italian doctor found that out the hard way in 2012 when he was arrested for kicking his 3-year old son in the face during an argument. He was released on a $2000 bond. What a great guy.
11. Boy Drowns in Cinderella’s Moat
All right, this is a bad one. In 1977, a 4-year old boy wandered off and drowned in the moat that surrounds Cinderella’s castle. He just wandered away when his family was checking out a parade. The family sued for $4 million, but eventually settled for $1.5 million as it was decided that the family shared in the negligence. At the time, Disney did not have good enough fencing surrounding the moat. That just was not a good incident at all.
10. Three Little Pigs Accused of Groping
Now, if it was the Big Bad Wolf that was accused of groping, we could totally get it; I mean that guy has no morals at all, but one of the three little pigs? What a swine he must be. That just seems wrong. In 1976, a woman sued Disney for $150,000, claiming one of the pigs had groped her. The case was later dismissed, and thank God for that. I am a dude and the thought of that would give me nightmares. Those pigs need to keep their hooves or paws or whatever you call them to themselves.
9. Indiana Jones Stunt Deaths
Everyone likes a good stunt. Well, not my mom, but pretty much everyone else. But with all that being said, stunts are way more fun when people don’t die. Since the beginning of the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, 5 major falls have taken place, and there was even one death when a stuntman died during rehearsal. I have to say that they might want to pay a little more attention to this one particular aspect of how they run things- life is not a movie.
8. Death on Thunder Mountain Railroad
In September 2003, the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad derailed, injuring 10 people and killing one, 22-year-old Marcello Torres, who died of blunt force trauma and internal bleeding. The cause of the accident was ruled to be improper maintenance and a lack of safety checks. The family of the deceased sued and won a large settlement. This one was a true black mark on Disney. You don’t go on vacation expecting your train to derail.
7. Death On the People Mover
I know, I already brought up the kid I knew who made a mess in his pants on the People Mover, but at least he did not die. Two people over the years have died while on the slow moving People Mover, both by jumping in between cars while it was moving and in the air. Now this one is definitely not the fault of Disney- you can’t fix stupid and obviously those people were doing something reckless and ended up paying the price.
6. It’s a Small World Nightmare
In 2009, the It’s a Small World ride broke down. While most people were able to just get out of their car and leave, one man who has quadriplegia was stuck on the ride and had to listen to that horrific song for 4o minutes before he was evacuated. He sued to get Disney to change how they handled disabled passengers and also got $8,000 in the process. I would listen to any song anywhere for 40 minutes if I got paid $8,000. That would be the easiest $8,000 I ever made.
5. Sailing Ship Columbia
The Sailing Ship Columbia is an exact replica of the first Columbia, which is the first sailing ship to go around the globe. This seems like it would be a pretty cool thing to check out. That is, unless a metal cleat flew off the boat and killed someone because of a head injury. This is exactly what happened in 1999. Disney got a huge fine by OSHA, and settled a lawsuit worth well into the millions with the family of the deceased.
4. Measles Outbreak
When one plans a trip to Disney with the family, a lot of things come to mind that you and the kids might want to do. Probably on the very bottom of that list is catching a case of measles. But that is what happened in 2014 when a measles outbreak happened in Disney, resulting in over 130 cases of the disease. Can you imagine being some schlub saving all year to take the family to Disney and then have this go down? Me either, which is why I don’t have kids and also don’t save any money.
3. Hyperion Theater Death
I guess when one really thinks about it though, a case of measles, or being groped by one of the three little pigs is not that big of a deal when it comes to falling to your death. Which is exactly what happened in the year 2003 when a stage technician fell 60 feet off a catwalk to his death at the Hyperion theater at Disney in California. This prompted an investigation into the incident by OSHA.
2. Death at Disney in Paris
Did you know there was a Disneyland in Paris? Who knew? I would think they would be far too busy being cultured then hanging out in some Americanized theme park. But there is one there, which was bad news for one cast member who was electrocuted there just very recently. The cast member was electrocuted while performing maintenance on Phantom Manor. Which, sadly, turned out to be a rather appropriate name.
1. Disney’s First Death Ever
One might think that all of this just started happening recently, but if you do think that, then you would be wrong. The first death ever occurred over 50 years ago, way back in 1964, when a 15-year old boy stood up on the Matterhorn ride and was thrown from the car and eventually died. It came out later that his seatbelt had been undone by the person in the car with him. Next time you go to Disney be careful. Okay? Please?