Everyone loves amusement parks! The rides, the thrills, the candies, the people…all of it! Amusement parks are magical places where everyone has fun and are given the perfect opportunity both to unwind and experience elevated levels of adrenaline (roller coaster anyone?) After all they are called amusement parks right? But it’s not all rainbow and roses when it comes to some of these magical places. Sadly, there exists shocking accidents in amusement park history. You could argue that some of these accidents were caused by patrons breaking the rules, or employees not enforcing them; you might even be able to argue that these tragedies were the cause of parental neglect. However way you look at it, the fact remains that these accidents stain the reputation of amusement parks being places of safe thrills and secure enjoyment. Here are 25 of the most heartbreaking accidents in amusement park history.
Matterhorn Bobsled, Disneyland, Anaheim, California
Modeled after the Matterhorn-a mountain in the Swiss Alps-the Matterhorn Bobsled steel roller coaster became the site of the first Disneyland fatality in 1964, when a 15-year-old boy was injured after he stood up in the car and fell out. He died three days later as a result of the injuries.
Rolling Thunder, Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, New Jersey
A 20-year old park employee died while riding the Rolling Thunder, a wooden roller coaster, during a test run in 1981. It was concluded that the employee may have not secured himself properly but the exact cause of the tragedy has remained unknown as nobody actually saw the young man fall from the ride.
Big Dipper, Battersea Park, London, UK
Big Dipper, a wooden roller coaster in London´s Battersea Park witnessed one of the most tragic accidents in amusement park history. In May 1972, a train that was being hoisted up to the start of the ride broke loose from its haulage rope and rolled backwards into another train. Five children were killed and 13 others injured in the accident.
Hydro, Oakwood Theme Park, Pembrokeshire, Wales
In April 2004, a 16-year-old girl died of internal injuries after falling approximately 100 feet (30 meters) from the top of the Hydro ride, a water roller coaster in the Oakwood Theme Park in Wales. It was later discovered that this attraction´s staff often failed to check the riders’ bars and seatbelts.
Ride of Steel, Darien Lake, Darien, New York
In July 2011, Iraq War veteran James Hackemer-who had lost both legs in a bomb attack-fell to his death from the Ride of Steel at the Superman-themed Darien Lake amusement park in New York. The ride was closed, but reopened after the death was deemed as an operator error. Hackemer should not have been allowed on the roller coaster due to his physical condition.
Cyclone, Coney Island, New York City, New York
Built in 1927, the Cyclone is one of the most unfortunate roller coasters in the US. So far, the ride has claimed the lives of three people. In May 1985, a 29-year-old man was killed here after he stood up and struck his head on a crossbeam. Just three years later, a 26-year-old man was killed after falling from the Cyclone and in July 2007, a 53-year-old man crushed his neck while riding the Cyclone and died a few days later.
The Gauntlet, Camelot Theme Park, Lancashire, UK
On 22 October 2001, a 59-year-old employee of the Camelot Theme Park was struck and killed by the Gauntlet roller coaster when performing maintenance on the ride. The park was later fined £40,000 as it had no written safety procedures for its staff. Since November 2012, the park has been closed.
Flight Commander, Kings Island, Mason, Ohio
A 32-year-old woman fell from a ride called the Flight Commander in the Kings Island amusement park and died from the impact on June 9, 1991. Unbelievably, just one hour before this accident, two people died at the very same park after suffering an electric shock while trying to rescue a man who fell into the park´s pond.
The Rat, Loudoun Castle Amusement Park, Galston, Scotland
In July 2007, an 18-year-old park worker died after falling 80 feet (24 meters) from the Rat Ride at the Loudoun Castle Amusement Park. He was allegedly visiting the park on his day off when he saw one of the cars stuck on the ride. He then proceeded to climb up in order to fix the ride, but when it started to move he was dragged to the highest point where he lost his grip and fell to his death.
Texas Giant, Six Flags Over Texas, Arlington, Texas
In July 2013, a 52-year-old woman died after she fell 75 feet (23 meters) from the Texas Giant roller coaster at the Six Flags Over Texas amusement park. The woman, who might have not been latched in her seat securely, fell down from the car and hit a support beam.
Alpine Slide, Action Park, Vernon, New Jersey
Sometimes referred to as “Accident Park”, the Action Park is one of the world´s most dangerous amusement parks. In July 1980, a park employee was riding the Alpine Slide when his car jumped the track and his head struck a rock, killing him. However, the most feared attraction of the park is the infamous Tidal Wave Pool where several people have already drowned.
Fujin Raijin II, Expoland, Osaka, Japan
In May 2007, the Expoland amusement park in Osaka, Japan, became the site of one of the most tragic incidents in amusement park history. The park´s six-car Fujin Raijin II roller coaster derailed and hit a guardrail after a wheel axle on one of the cars broke, killing one woman and causing severe injuries to other 19 people.
Batman, Six Flags Over Georgia, Cobb County, Georgia
In June 2008, a 17-year-old boy was decapitated by the passing train after he climbed over two fences and entered a restricted area to retrieve his lost hat. Six years earlier, a similar incident happened at the same ride as a man was struck in the head and killed by the dangling legs of a passenger after he broke the ride´s rules and wandered into the train´s path.
Black Witch, Magic Harbor, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Once a thriving amusement park and a popular vacation spot in South Carolina, the Magic Harbor witnessed tragedy in 1983 when a 13-year-old girl was almost beheaded after she stood up on the Black Witch steel roller coaster. Shortly after her death, the park was completely shut down.
Puff The Little Fire Dragon, Lagoon, Farmington, Utah
Despite being one of the safest and slowest rides in the park, Puff The Little Fire Dragon claimed the life of a 6-year-old boy in 1989. The boy slipped from the safety restraints, falling through the tracks and as he was trying to get back on the track, the same train looped around and hit him in his head, killing him instantly.
Superman Tower of Power, Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, Louisville, Kentucky
In June 2007, the cables of the Superman Tower of Power roller coasters napped, slapping a group of young girls. One of the girls got entangled in the cables and as the car dropped, the cables severed her feet. The ride was closed right after the accident and it was removed from the park soon after.
Mindbender, Galaxyland, Edmonton, Canada
The world’s largest indoor triple loop roller coaster, the Mindbender is also a site one of the deadliest incidents in amusement park history. In June 1984, missing bolts on a wheel assembly of the last car caused the train to disengage from the track. The final car fishtailed wildly, colliding with support structures, and throwing off passengers before crashing into a concrete pillar. Three of the people on that car were killed.
Space Journey, East Overseas Chinese Town, Shenzhen, China
Located in a Shenzhen´s amusement park, the Space Journey ride involved cars spinning inside a domed screen portraying movies about space. In June 2010, however, one of the cars suddenly came loose and the whole dome ricocheted around, causing an electrical fire, before plunging to the ground, with more than 40 people inside. Six died, five were critically injured and five more suffered serious injuries.
Ferris Wheel, Gulliver´s World Theme Park, Warrington, UK
In July 2002, a 15-year-old girl with Down’s syndrome died after getting out of her seat and falling down from the Ferris Wheel at the Gulliver´s Theme Park in England. During investigation, it was found that she had wanted to ride with her mother, but the park employees refused, saying that her mother was too big and needed her own seat.
The Xtreme Racer, Legoland Billund, Billund, Denmark
On April 29, 2007, a 21-year-old park employee was killed by a ride vehicle on The Xtreme Racer after she climbed over a security fence to retrieve a guest’s wallet. The roller coaster was closed for a short period of time after the incident but it was reopened soon after and is still in operation.
Ragin Cajun, Six Flags America, Upper Marlboro, Maryland
On May 29, 2004, a 52-year-old ride mechanic from Zion, Illinois was killed by a roller-coaster car of the Ragin Cajun attraction at the Six Flags America amusement park in Maryland when he was trying to cross the tracks. Suffering from a traumatic head injury, the man died at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee soon after the accident.
Colossus, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia, California
Once the tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster in the world, Colossus was the site of a deadly accident in 1978 when a 20-year-old woman died after falling out of the ride. The lap bar was locked in place but due to the woman’s obesity it proved to be ineffective. This incident prompted the ride to be closed for a year while the trains were switched out and other adjustments made.
Wildcat, Bell´s Amusement Park, Tulsa, Oklahoma
A major attraction at Bell´s Amusement Park in Oklahoma, the Wildcat roller coaster witnessed a fatal incident in April 1997 when mechanical failures on the ride caused a car near the top of a chain hill to disengage and roll backwards, colliding with another car. The accident killed a fourteen-year-old and injured six others.
Inferno, Terra Mitica, Benidorm, Spain
In July 2014, an 18-year-old boy from Iceland was thrown out from his roller coaster seat at the Terra Mitica amusement park in Spain. The unfortunate boy died shortly after the incident in the ambulance. Investigation found out the harness of the boy´s seat was open but the cause of the failure was not determined.
Le Vampire, La Ronde, Quebec, Canada
On July 6, 2012, Le Vampiere roller coaster at La Ronde amusement park in Quebec became fatal for a 67-year-old employee of the park who was reportedly found underneath the attraction in a restricted area, appearing to have suffered head trauma. Park officials stated that the employee had been struck by the roller coaster. The man was pronounced dead at the scene.