Guests have been killed on Disneyland attractions since the park’s opening in 1955. All the deaths (save the most recent) were the result of guests who apparently ignored safety instructions and/or defeated rides’ safety mechanisms. The Rivers of America is the deadliest with three fatalities.
In 1964, a 15-year-old boy was killed trying to stand up while on the Matterhorn bobsleds. He was thrown from the ride and died three days later.
Teenagers were killed 13 years apart (1967, 1980), both while trying to hop cars while on the People Mover. Ricky Lee Yama, 17, was crushed to death in 1967 and Gerardo Gonzalez, 18, was crushed and dragged by a car when he fell onto the track.
On a Grad Nite on June 8, 1966, 19-year-old Thomas Guy Cleveland from Northridge, California, was killed while attempting to sneak into the park by climbing onto the monorail track. Ignoring the shouted warnings of a security officer, he was struck by the train and dragged 30 to 40 feet down the track.
In 1973, an 18-year-old man drowned after he and his little brother, who was 10, hid on Tom Swayer Island until after closing and then tried to swim across when they wanted to return home. The older brother tried to carry his younger brother to shore but didn’t make it. He disappeared under the water about halfway across. The 10-year-old was rescued by a ride operator, but the older boy’s body wasn’t found until the next morning.
Deborah Stone was the first Disneyland Employee to die in the line of duty, July 1974. She was a greeter on America Sings. While testing the ride she was crushed between a stationary wall and a moving wall. The ride was closed for three days to clean up and install warning lights. No one was there to witness her death and she was discovered the following day when she failed to show up for work
On August 14, 1979, a 31-year-old woman became ill after riding Space Mountain. At the unload area, she was unable to exit the vehicle. Although employees told her to stay seated while the vehicle was removed from the track, other ride operators did not realize that her vehicle was supposed to be removed and accidentally sent her through the ride a second time. She arrived at the unloading zone semi-conscious. The victim was subsequently taken to Palm Harbor Hospital where she remained in a coma and died one week later. The coroner’s report attributed the death to natural causes: a heart tumor had dislodged and entered her brain.
On June 4, 1983, an 18-year-old man from Albuquerque, New Mexico, drowned in the Rivers of America while trying to pilot a rubber emergency boat from Tom Sawyer’s Island that he and a friend had stolen from a restricted area of the island during Disneyland’s annual Grad Nite. Both individuals were intoxicated at the time of the incident.
In 1984, Regena Young, known as “Dolly,” fell from her seat while riding the Matterhorn at Disneyland and was killed when she was struck by another oncoming bobsled. Her seatbelt was unbuckled, but we don’t know whether she undid it herself or whether it was the result of something else. The area on the track where Young died is known as Dolly’s Dip.
In 1998, Luan Phi Dawson, 33, and Lieu Thuy Vuong, 43, were waiting to board Columbia. As the boat docked at the Rivers of America, it tore a metal cleat loose, which struck both Dawson and Vuong. Vuong survived, but Dawson was declared brain-dead two days later.
In 2003, Marcelo Torres, 22, was killed on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad when the car he was on separated from the rest of the train. Torres was the only fatality, but several other passengers sustained injuries.
July 4th, 2009. When safety features were overridden, Two monorails at Disney World collided head on and killed an operator. Seven other people were on the trains at the time but were not seriously injured.Click Here to read story.
[ed note: A reader pointed out that there have been more deaths at Disneyland and that we’re not even paying attention to Disney World. We have made a distinction between deaths and “killed. Guests in poor health who die while in the park are not included.]
So, without further fanfare we proudly publish….Deaths at Disney World
Due to an odd jurisdiction situation deaths at Disney World were not required to be reported prior to 2001.
In October, 1989 a woman was killed at Disney World when her jet ski collided with the jet ski driven by her daughter. She was pronounced dead in the water and rather than drag her body to a beach full of guests, her body was towed out and lashed to a buoy. The victim was brought ashore after dark when there were fewer guests to be shocked. Well…most of her. The fish had been feeding for hours.
February 11, 2004: A costumed Walt Disney World worker, Javier Cruz, 38, of Orlando, Fla., was killed after being run over by a float during an afternoon parade.
The brain eating parasite, Naegleria Fowleri was present in “Water Country at Disney World. In 1980, and 11 year old boy died from exposure at Water Country. But the park did not close the attraction. Disney closed Water Country in 2001. The Body Count at Disney World stands at: 3
More information on Disney Death can be found here.
Anaheim, Calif.- Disneyland temporarily shut down the popular “The Pirates of the Caribbean” ride when park officials noticed a woman pouring an unknown powder into the water. When questioned, the woman said it was “baby powder”.
It is suspected that this is another example of visitors leaving the ashes of their loved ones at the popular amusement park. Disneyland Resorts spokesman Rob Doughty said he couldn’t confirm that.
“It used to happen every once in a while at the Haunted Mansion, but now it’s happening more.”
Without written permission, it’s a misdemeanor violation of the state Health and Safety Code to scatter human ashes on private property, but enforcement is difficult. Officials say the ashes pose no health threat.
“I can tell you that we do get people from time to time asking for permission to sprinkle ashes. Our policy is when we are asked for permission, we deny the request,” Doughty said. “Beyond that, we don’t know.”