This Disney Park Has Been Named One Of The Most Dangerous Theme Parks In The US

No matter how careful you try to be in life, accidents happen. Although smaller instances like stubbing your toe on a coffee table or dropping a plate while washing dishes are relatively harmless in the long run, accidents that occur in theme parks are harder to move past quickly. And when so many pile up that a place earns the moniker of "dangerous," then that is probably a good sign to choose a different destination for your next vacation. Just look at Action Park, the New Jersey destination at the center of HBO's acclaimed documentary "Class Action Park" which closed in the late 1990s.

But surely none of the Walt Disney Company's theme parks in the United States of America belong in the same breath as a catastrophe-ridden hellscape like Action Park, right? Not the parks known as "The Happiest Place On Earth" and "The Most Magical Place On Earth" that millions of Disney fans visit every year. Well, based on a 2023 report from The Family Vacation Guide (via Disney Dining), Disneyland in Anaheim, California is actually one of the most dangerous theme parks in the entire country.

According to their findings that compile the major accidents reported in U.S. amusement parks since 1980, Disneyland is considered to be the third most dangerous theme park in the country. This ranking is based on 33 occurrences that include infectious disease outbreaks, machinery malfunctions, various methods of death, and guest altercations with cast members and each other. But is this warranted?

Incidents At Disneyland

When you plan a trip to the Disneyland Resort, your mind is likely occupied by the immersive attractions, delicious treats, and magical moments you are about to experience. Or you could be busy perfecting your Disneybound outfit and ensuring that your backpack has enough room for souvenirs. Either way, the thought of being crushed by your favorite ride probably isn't near the top of the list of things you are thinking about as you prepare to "leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy." But unfortunately, that is a real thing that has happened multiple times at the SoCal Disney park.

One instance occurred in 2003 on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. According to the wrongful death lawsuit that followed the tragedy, the ride vehicle that resembles a steam-powered locomotive derailed and uncoupled from the first car during a mechanical malfunction. It then crashed down onto 22-year-old graphic designer Marcelo Torres in the car behind it. With the full weight of the roller coaster train on his chest, the severe blunt force trauma sustained from this event resulted in extensive internal bleeding that led to his death. Additionally, the accident injured 10 other people on the ride that day, including a 9-year-old child.

On top of this terrible incident, other fatal accidents have also occurred throughout the years on other rides. From Space Mountain and Matterhorn Bobsleds to the world-famous Jungle Cruise, malfunctions have led to fatal injuries. However, Disneyland still isn't the most dangerous theme park in America.

The Other Most Dangerous Theme Parks In The US

While Disneyland sits at the third position, its neighbor Knott's Berry Farm earned the top spot due to a total of 49 reported incidents that range from guests getting stuck on a rollercoaster for hours to rides falling apart to gunshots fired. As far as deaths go, the very first one occurred on October 30, 1983, when 18-year-old Donald Day fell 200 feet from a Sky Jump gondola during the park's annual Knott's Scary Farm event. indicated that there were no operational malfunctions at the time of the incident, so authorities determined the event was accidental. However, later information about Day's final moments with his friend who was also on the ride with him revealed that it could have been a suicide.

Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the list, some of the safest theme parks in America include Tampa's Busch Gardens, Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, and various Six Flags locations. These places have each only reported one accident since 1980. However, what the rankings fail to mention is that these "safe" amusement parks are considerably less popular than Disneyland or Knott's Berry Farm, which bring in more than 10 times the number of guests annually compared to Worlds of Fun. Despite the vast safety measures and protocols in place in Disney Parks, sadly the law of averages catches up eventually. But considering that Disneyland welcomes approximately 19 million guests annually, 33 incidents since 1980 isn't too bad