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Disney Deaths [Updated 2022]

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Posted By DAM Firm | May 17 2022 | Personal Injury

Disneyland and Disney World parks are supposed to be some of the happiest places on earth. Families and individuals travel from around the world to attend these grand theme parks. Despite these amusement parks being very family friendly, that does not always mean they are safe. Unfortunately incidents happen – from ride malfunctions to accidental drownings – and people do die at Disney parks. This article provides a full list of every reported fatality at a Disney park in the U.S. as well as their lawsuit status, cause of death, and a timeline of incidents. In total there have been 88 fatalities caused by 84 separate incidents.

Table of Contents

Data Analysis: Fatal Incidents at Disney Parks

Disneyland in California and Disney World in Florida are two theme parks owned by Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Inc. (formerly Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Worldwide, Inc.). These parks are extremely popular worldwide, and are the most visited amusement parks in the country.

Unfortunately, as with any amusement park, there are inherent risks that come with operating rides, and fatalities do happen. For the purposes of this study, we examined every reported death that has occurred at one of these two Disney parks. We included fatal accidents related to the park as well as all other causes of death.

How Often Was a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed?

When someone dies due to the negligence of another person or organization, their family can file what’s called a wrongful death lawsuit. The goal of this lawsuit is to hold the responsible party accountable for the death, and to recover compensation that can go towards funeral and burial costs, lost incomes, and the pain and suffering of the deceased’s family.

Below is a breakdown of the percentage of incidents in which a wrongful death lawsuit was filed.

Lawsuit Status of Disney Fatalities

Of the 83 reported fatal incidents at Disney Parks, the lawsuit status of each one is as follows: 

  • 65% of incidents involved no lawsuit
  • 14% of incidents involved a lawsuit in which Disney settled
  • 6% of cases have an unknown lawsuit status
  • 6% of incidents resulted in OSHA fining Disney for safety violations
  • 5% of incidents involved a lawsuit against a third party (i.e. manufacturer)
  • 4% of incidents had a lawsuit that was dismissed or the status is unknown

Disney Victim Demographics

TIMELINE OF DISNEY FATALITIES

The age breakdown of victims is as follows:

  • Children (Under 10): 15%
  • Tweens & Teens (11 to 18): 17%
  • Adults (19 to 64): 44%
  • Seniors (65+): 9%
  • Unknown: 15%

Disney Deaths Guest vs. Employee

The data shows that in 21% of the fatalities, it was a park employee who died.

Timeline of Fatal Incidents at Disney Parks

Below is a timeline of fatalities that have occurred at both Disney parks. Each dot represents one fatality.

TIMELINE OF DISNEY FATALITIES

Causes of Death

Below is a breakdown of the cause of death for the 88 reported fatalities at Disney parks. “Natural causes” of death include fatalities from preexisting conditions, both known and unknown. Deaths from natural causes make up 25% of fatalities at Disney, while suicides and murders account for 14%.

Cause of Death # of Incidents
Natural Causes 22
Suicide 10
Drowning 10
Fall 8
Crushing 5
Head Injury 5
Blunt Force Trauma 5
Plane Accident 4
Ran Over/Dragged by Ride 3
Unknown 3
Hit by Vehicle 2
Vehicle Accident 2
Alligator Attack 1
Amoebic Meningoencephalitis 1
Boat Accident 1
Brain Hemorrhage 1
Decapitated 1
Explosion 1
Pulmonary Embolism 1
Shooting 1
Stabbing 1

Disney Parks Fines & Settlements

While many of Disney’s settlement amounts are not disclosed, below is a table of the monetary charges that are known. This includes both fines from OSHA and settlements paid to the deceased’s family, plus the year for context.

OSHA Fines Year
$69,000 2011
$35,200 2009
$25,500 2007
$18,350 2003
$12,500 1998
$6,300 2004
$4,500 1999
Disney Settlements Year
$25 million 1998
$2 million 1977
$600,000 1981
$250,000 1987

Disneyland Deaths

Disneyland is located in Anaheim, California, and hosts over 60 rides and attractions. The park opened in 1955 and they report having an average of 18 million visitors per year. Disneyland California is the only one designed and built under direct supervision of Walt Disney.

How Many People Have Died at Disneyland?

As of June 2022, 25 people have reportedly died at Disneyland Resorts in California.

Full List of Fatal Accidents at Disneyland

Ride: N/A (Parking Lot)
Date: 8/29/2019
Cause of Death: Blunt Force Trauma
Lawsuit: Unknown
Incident: A steel plate fell on a 38-year old male construction worker (who was an independent contractor) while working in a trench with other employees. Paramedics tried to perform CPR, but the man later died at the hospital.

Ride: Hyperion Theater (Disney California Adventure)
Date: 4/22/2003
Cause of Death: Fell From Catwalk
Lawsuit: Disney was fined $18,350 by OSHA for safety violations in October 2003
Incident: A 36-year old male stage technician fell 60 feet from a catwalk, prompting an investigation by Cal/OSHA. The victim never regained consciousness and died on May 18, 2003.

Ride: Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin (Disneyland Park)
Date: 10/22/2000 
Cause of Death: Ran Over/Dragged by Ride
Lawsuit: Disney never admitted fault, but settled for an undisclosed amount in Jan 2002
Incident: A 4-year old boy fell out of the ride vehicle and was dragged underneath the car, causing serious internal injuries, cardiac arrest, and brain damage. The victim never fully recovered from his injuries and died on January 26, 2009, aged 13, at Children’s Hospital of Orange County.
Aftermath: On October 7, 2000, Disneyland changed its emergency policy to instruct ride operators to call 911 first, instead of the Disney security center. Records showed that more than five minutes passed between the time the victim fell out of the ride vehicle and when emergency personnel were called. An investigation concluded that a lap bar had malfunctioned and that the victim was placed in the wrong seat in the ride vehicle, too close to the opening. Three months after the incident, the Permanent Ride Amusement branch of Cal/OSHA instructed Disney to install additional safety features on the ride.

Ride: Indiana Jones (Disneyland Park)
Date: 6/25/2000
Cause of Death: Brain Hemorrhage
Lawsuit: Disney settled for an undisclosed amount
Incident: A 23-year old woman exited the Indiana Jones ride complaining of a severe headache. She was hospitalized later that day and was discovered to have suffered a brain hemorrhage. She died on September 1, 2000, of a cerebral aneurysm. 
Aftermath: Her family’s subsequent wrongful death lawsuit against Disney stated that the victim died because of “violent shaking and stresses imposed by the ride.” In an interlocutory appeal, the California Supreme Court held that amusement parks are considered “common carriers” similar to commercially operated planes, trains, elevators and ski lifts. This ruling imposes a heightened duty of care on amusement parks and requires them to provide the same degree of care and safety as do other common carriers.

Ride: Sailing Ship Columbia (Disneyland Park)
Date: 12/24/1998
Cause of Death: Blunt Force Trauma
Lawsuit: Disney admitted fault and settled for an undisclosed amount estimated at $25 million. Disney was also fined by Cal/OSHA for $12,500 for improperly training the employee. 
Incident: A 33-year old man was struck by a heavy metal cleat fastened to the hull of the Sailing Ship Columbia. It tore loose, striking one cast member and two park guests. The victim died of a head injury at UCI Medical Center two days later.
Aftermath: The normal tie line, a hemp rope designed to break easily, was improperly replaced by a cheaper elastic nylon rope that stretched and tore the cleat from the ship’s wooden hull. Disney received much criticism for its alleged policy of restricting outside medical personnel in the park to avoid frightening visitors, as well as for the fact that the employee in charge of the ship at the time had not been trained in its operation. After this incident, Disney reinstated lead foreman on most rides, and the Anaheim Police Department placed officers in the park to speed response. This was the first guest death on a Disneyland ride that was not attributable to any negligence on the part of the guest.

Ride: N/A (Parking Lot)
Date: 9/14/1985
Cause of Death: Crushing
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 7-year old girl was crushed to death beneath the wheels of a bus at Disneyland. The girl was walking across the parking lot with her uncle while looking for his car when she fell under a moving charter bus that crushed her instantly. 

Ride: Rivers of America (Disneyland Park)
Date: 6/4/1983
Cause of Death: Drowning
Lawsuit: Dismissed
Incident: An 18-year old man drowned in the Rivers of America while trying to pilot a rubber emergency boat from Tom Sawyer’s Island which 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. The victim’s mother sued Disneyland for allowing her inebriated son onto the premises, and sued the travel agency that had arranged the trip for not properly supervising the teenagers.

Ride: N/A
Date: 4/16/1981
Cause of Death: Unknown
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 34-year old woman was standing in line to purchase food at the park’s hub at the end of Main Street near Sleeping Beauty’s Castle when she collapsed and later died at Palm Harbor General Hospital in nearby Garden Grove, California.

Ride: Tom Sawyer’s Island (Disneyland Park)
Date: 6/20/1973
Cause of Death: Drowning
Lawsuit: None
Incident: An 18-year old man and his 10-year-old brother stayed on Tom Sawyer’s Island past closing time by hiding in an area that is off-limits to guests. They later left the island and tried to swim across the river, but the younger boy didn’t know how to swim. The older boy attempted to carry his brother on his back and drowned halfway across. His body was found the next morning. The younger brother was able to stay afloat by dog paddling until a ride operator rescued him.

Ride: Monorail (Disneyland Park)
Date: 6/17/1966
Cause of Death: Ran Over/Dragged
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 19-year old man was killed while attempting to sneak into the park by climbing onto the monorail track. Ignoring a security officer’s shouted warnings, he was struck by the train and dragged 30 to 40 feet down the track.

America Sings Death / Carousel of Progress Deaths

Ride: America Sings (Disneyland Park)
Date: 7/8/1974
Cause of Death: Crushing
Lawsuit: None
Incident: An 18-year old female employee was crushed to death after slipping between a revolving wall and a stationary platform inside the attraction. She was in the wrong place during a ride intermission; it was unclear whether this was the result of inadequate training or a misstep, as the ride had only opened about a week earlier. The attraction was closed for two days while crews cleaned up and installed warning lights and breakaway walls to prevent further incidents.

Space Mountain Deaths

There are rumors that a park guest was decapitated on Space Mountain, but this is false. The only decapitation occurred on Matterhorn, and the only deaths on Space Mountain have occurred from natural causes.

Ride: Space Mountain (Disneyland Park)
Date: 8/14/1979
Cause of Death: Natural Causes (Tumor)
Lawsuit: Dismissed
Incident: A 31-year old woman became sick after riding Space Mountain and 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 what was happening and accidentally sent her through the ride a second time. She arrived at the unloading zone semi-conscious. The victim was 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.

Thunder Mountain Deaths

Ride: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Disneyland Park)
Date: 9/5/2003
Cause of Death: Blunt Force Trauma
Lawsuit: Disney admitted fault and settled for an undisclosed amount
Incident: A 22-year old man died after suffering severe blunt-force trauma and extensive internal bleeding in a derailment of the roller coaster that also injured 10 other riders. As the train entered a tunnel, the axle came loose and jammed against a brake section, causing the locomotive to become airborne and hit the ceiling of the tunnel. The locomotive then fell on top of the first passenger car, crushing the victim.
Aftermath: The investigation revealed that the cause of the accident was improper maintenance. Reports showed that the derailment was the result of a mechanical failure that occurred because of omissions during a maintenance procedure. Fasteners on the left side upstop/guide wheel on the floating axle of the locomotive were not tightened and secured in accordance with specifications, and the first passenger car collided with the underside of the locomotive. 

Matterhorn Deaths

Ride: Matterhorn (Disneyland Park)
Date: 1/3/1984
Cause of Death: Decapitated
Lawsuit: Disney settled for an undisclosed amount
Incident: A 48-year old woman was decapitated when she was thrown from a Matterhorn bobsled car and then struck by the next oncoming bobsled. An investigation found that her seat belt was not buckled. It is unclear whether the victim deliberately unfastened her belt or if the seat belt had malfunctioned.

Ride: Matterhorn (Disneyland Park)
Date: 5/1964
Cause of Death: Fall from ride
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 15-year old boy was injured after he stood up in the Matterhorn Bobsleds and fell out. It was reported that his restraint was undone by his ride companion. He died three days later as a result of his injuries. This was Disneyland’s first fatal incident.

PeopleMover Deaths

Ride: PeopleMover (Disneyland Park)
Date: 8/1967
Cause of Death: Ran Over/Dragged
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 16-year old boy was killed while jumping between two moving PeopleMover cars as the ride passed through a tunnel. He stumbled and fell onto the track, where an oncoming train of cars crushed him beneath its wheels and dragged his body a few hundred feet before it was stopped by a ride operator. The attraction had only been open for one month at the time. 

Ride: PeopleMover (Disneyland Park)
Date: 6/7/1980 
Cause of Death: Crushing
Lawsuit: None
Incident: An 18-year old man was crushed and killed by the PeopleMover while jumping between moving cars. The accident occurred as the ride entered the SuperSpeed tunnel and was very similar to the 1967 incident.

The PeopleMover shut down for good on August 21, 1995.

Disneyland Murders

Two people have been murdered at Disneyland Resorts in California. Below are the incidents.

Ride: N/A (Parking Lot)
Date: 3/7/1987
Cause of Death: Shooting
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 15-year old boy was fatally shot in the Disneyland parking lot. The incident began as a confrontation between rival gang members before escalating into a fight. An 18 year old was convicted of second-degree murder, but the conviction was subsequently overturned by a state appellate court.

Ride: Tomorrowland (Disneyland Park)
Date: 3/7/1981
Cause of Death: Stabbing
Lawsuit: Disney settled for $600,000 due to negligence for not summoning outside medical help faster.
Incident: An 18-year old man was fatally stabbed with a knife during a fight with a 28-year-old man, after the victim supposedly pinched the man’s girlfriend in Tomorrowland. His family sued the park for $60 million.

Disneyland Suicides

Six people have committed suicide at Disneyland Resorts in California.

Ride: N/A (Parking Structure)
Date: 11/26/2016
Cause of Death: Suicide
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 40-year old man jumped to his death from the Mickey & Friends parking structure just after 2:00 a.m. He was rushed to UC Irvine Medical Center and pronounced dead.

Ride: N/A (Parking Structure)
Date: 4/2/2012
Cause of Death: Suicide
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 23-year old man was found near the Mickey & Friends parking structure and was pronounced dead at the scene. It was investigated as a suicide at the time, but there were no witnesses that saw the man jump.

Ride: N/A (Parking Structure)
Date: 10/17/2010
Cause of Death: Suicide
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 61-year old man jumped to his death from the Mickey & Friends parking structure’s top floor. He left behind a note citing “personal issues” for his suicide.

Ride: N/A (Disneyland Hotel – Wonder Tower)
Date: 5/2/2008
Cause of Death: Suicide
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 48-year old man jumped from a 14th-story balcony of the Wonder Tower (now Frontier Tower), falling to his death in a parking lot.

Ride: N/A (Disneyland Hotel)
Date: 7/6/1996
Cause of Death: Suicide
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 23-year old man either jumped or fell to his death from the 14th floor of the Disneyland Hotel. He was not a hotel guest and had climbed over several balconies.

Ride: N/A (Disneyland Hotel)
Date: 9/3/1994 
Cause of Death: Suicide
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 75-year old man jumped to his death from a ninth-floor balcony of the Disneyland Hotel. This was the first suicide known to be committed at the Disneyland Resort.

Disney World Deaths

Disney World in Orlando, Florida opened sixteen years after Disneyworld in California. It boasts multiple resorts, water parks, and theme parks including Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Walt Disney was a part of the park’s development, but died during the planning phase. As of 2018, Disney World was the most visited vacation resort in the world.

How Many People Have Died at Disney World?

63 people have died at Disney World from 60 reported incidents, as of June 2022.

Full List of Fatal Accidents at Disney World

Ride: Spaceship Earth (Epcot)
Date: 5/30/2021
Cause of Death: Natural Causes
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 58-year-old man with a pre-existing heart condition passed out and later died after exiting the attraction.

Ride: N/A (Caribbean Beach Resort)
Date: 12/18/2020
Cause of Death: Blunt Force Trauma
Lawsuit: A lawsuit was filed in June 2022 and is still developing
Incident: A 43-year-old woman fell and hit her head. She died 4 days later at a hospital from blunt force trauma.

Ride: Spaceship Earth (Epcot)
Date: 3/20/2021
Cause of Death: Natural Causes
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 66-year-old male guest experienced medical issues near Spaceship Earth and was later pronounced dead at the hospital. According to the Medical Examiner’s office, he died of natural causes stemming from heart problems.

Ride: N/A (Epcot)
Date: 11/1/2019
Cause of Death: Natural Causes 
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A runner died while participating in Disney’s Wine & Dine Weekend 5km race. The victim collapsed while running on the course.

Ride: N/A (Epcot)
Date: 3/12/2019
Cause of Death: Fall
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A worker died in an industrial incident behind the France Pavilion. It is believed that he fell from the roof or cherry picker where the upcoming attraction Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure was being developed.

Ride: N/A (JW Marriott Bonnet Creek Hotel)
Date: 8/29/2018
Cause of Death: Fall
Lawsuit: A lawsuit was filed against 2 construction contracting companies (PCL Construction Services Inc & Universal Engineering Sciences, Inc).
Incident: 2 workers on the site of a hotel that was under construction fell to their death when scaffolding around the building collapsed.

Ride: N/A (Epcot)
Date: 8/18/2018
Cause of Death: Unknown
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A person was found dead inside of a burning car near Disney’s Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course at the park. No other information was released.

Ride: N/A (Pop Century and Caribbean Beach Resorts)
Date: 7/9/2018
Cause of Death: Crushing
Lawsuit: OSHA ruled that Disney is not at fault – no fine. The victim’s wife filed wrongful death lawsuits for more than $15,000 against the manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of the cart vehicle that fell on her husband (Toro Co. and Wesco Turf) but the status of these cases is unknown. Disney admitted that employees are not required to read the manufacturer’s manual for equipment.
Incident: A 33-year-old cast member died in an industrial accident near the resorts. A Toro utility cart crushed the employee, causing him to fall unconscious. Workers who were unable to lift the cart, along with officials, pronounced him dead at the scene.

Ride: N/A (Epcot)
Date: 11/5/2017
Cause of Death: Natural Causes
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A runner in the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon collapsed and died near the finish line in the Epcot parking lot. No other details were disclosed.

Ride: Star Tours: The Adventures Continue (Disney’s Hollywood Studios)
Date: 10/2016
Cause of Death: Natural Causes (Preexisting Condition)
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 67-year-old man died after exiting the ride. He had a pre-existing heart condition, along with other contributing factors.

Ride: Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Date: 6/14/2016
Cause of Death: Drowning & Traumatic Injuries from Alligator Attack
Lawsuit: There was no public lawsuit, however many suspect that Disney settled outside of court because the family opened up a probate.
Incident: A 2-year-old boy was attacked by an alligator at 9:15pm on the shore of the Seven Seas Lagoon. His parents unsuccessfully tried to intervene and the boy was pulled into the water. His body was found the following afternoon in the vicinity of where he went missing, in about 6 feet of water.
Aftermath: Since the incident, Disney has added warning signs and rope-barriers to waterways around the entire resort. For a short time, references to alligators were removed from a number of attractions, including the Jungle Cruise.

Ride: Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
Date: 7/14/2015
Cause of Death: Drowning
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 3-year-old child was found at the bottom of a resort pool after becoming separated from his parents. The child was later pronounced dead at an area hospital.

Ride: Walt Disney World Speedway
Date: 4/12/2015
Cause of Death: Vehicle Accident
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 36-year-old driving instructor was killed in a crash during a run as part of the Exotic Driving Experience. The instructor was riding in the passenger seat of a Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera, when the driver lost control and crashed into a metal guardrail. The Florida Highway Patrol investigated and announced that, while the decision to run vehicles clockwise (instead of counter-clockwise) may have been a factor in the incident, it was ruled an accident and no charges were filed against the driver.

Ride: Toy Story Mania! (Disney’s Hollywood Studios)
Date: 10/2014
Cause of Death: Natural Causes
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 64-year-old woman lost consciousness on the ride and died. The death was not believed to be related to the ride.

Ride: Disney’s Pop Century Resort
Date: 3/12/2013
Cause of Death: Drowning
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 13-year-old boy drowned at the Hippy Dippy pool in the resort. He was swimming with some other guests and there were no lifeguards on duty at the time. The boy drowned in the four foot deep section of the pool and was pulled from the water by a paramedic who tried to revive him by performing CPR, but he later died at the hospital.

Ride: Primeval Whirl (Animal Kingdom)
Date: 3/13/2011
Cause of Death: Head Injury
Lawsuit: OSHA fined Disney $69,000 for safety violations. Part of this was for a repeat citation, since Disney had no guardrails where the victim was working, and had faced similar citations in the past.
Incident: A 52-year-old employee sustained head injuries while working on the ride and was airlifted to a hospital where he later died. The ride was undergoing maintenance and was closed to the public at the time of the incident.

Ride: N/A (Disney’s Port Orleans Resort)
Date: 12/26/2010
Cause of Death: Hit by Vehicle
Lawsuit: None; the victim was not in the crosswalk, so the bus had the right of way.
Incident: A 69-year-old man died after stepping in front of a moving Disney bus in the parking lot of Disney’s Port Orleans Resort.

Ride: Prince Charming Regal Carrousel (Magic Kingdom)
Date: 12/12/2010
Cause of Death: Natural Causes (Preexisting Condition)
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 77-year-old woman with pre-existing conditions collapsed after exiting the ride. She later died due to the incident.

Ride: N/A (Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground)
Date: 1/10/2010
Cause of Death: Crushing
Lawsuit: The victim’s mother sued Disney for $15,106 and they settled out of court for an undisclosed amount
Incident: A 9-year-old boy was crushed to death by a Disney bus while riding his bicycle with another child. The victim appeared to turn his bike into the road and ran into the side of the bus, subsequently being dragged under the bus’s right rear tire. A preliminary report stated that the bus driver, who has 30 years’ experience with Disney, was not impaired or driving recklessly.

Ride: Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! (Disney’s Hollywood Studios)
Date: 8/17/2009
Cause of Death: Head Injury
Lawsuit: None
Incident: In a rehearsal, a 30-year-old performer died after injuring his head while performing a tumbling roll.

Ride: Pirates of the Caribbean (Magic Kingdom)
Date: 8/6/2009
Cause of Death: Head/Spinal Injury
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 47-year-old employee playing the role of a pirate in the “Captain Jack’s Pirate Tutorial” show accidentally slipped on a puddle on the stage and hit his head on a wall. According to notes from OSHA, the victim’s fall was the result of receiving a small kick to his behind. He was taken to the hospital with injuries that included a broken vertebrae in his neck, cervical spine fracture, and severe lacerations on his head. He died four days later of bilateral pulmonary thromboemboli due to complications of immobilization for the cervical spine fracture.

Ride: N/A (Monorail)
Date: 7/5/2009
Cause of Death: Vehicle Accident
Lawsuit: Disney settled for an undisclosed amount with the victim’s mother. OSHA ruled the crash preventable and proposed $44,000 worth of fines to Disney (including a $7,000 citation for the crash, a $2,000 fine for maintenance issues, and $35,000 for repeat violations). OSHA later reduced some of these fines in the settlement agreement; one went from $25,000 to $19,100 and another from $10,000 to $7,100, bringing the total to $35,200.
Incident: During a failed track switchover from the Epcot line onto the Magic Kingdom express line, Monorail Pink backed into Monorail Purple, killing Monorail Purple’s 21-year-old pilot. OSHA and park officials inspected the monorail line and it reopened the next day, after new sensors and operating procedures were put in place.
Aftermath: An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) showed no mechanical problems with the trains or track, but did find that the track used in the switchover was not in its proper place for the track transition. The NTSB also noted that Purple’s pilot attempted to reverse his train when he saw that there was going to be a collision. Disney placed three monorail employees on paid administrative leave as a result of the incident. On October 31, 2011, the NTSB issued its findings on this incident, citing the probable cause as the shop panel operator’s failure to properly align the switch beam before the monorail train was directed to reverse through it. As a result of this incident, cab riding for guests was discontinued. A supervisor at a restaurant off campus was directing the trains at the time, which is no longer allowed.

Ride: Expedition Everest: Legend of the Forbidden Mountain (Animal Kingdom)
Date: 12/18/2007
Cause of Death: Natural Causes
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 44-year-old man lost consciousness while riding the coaster. He was given CPR on the ride’s loading platform and was pronounced dead at the hospital. The autopsy concluded that the victim died of dilated cardiomyopathy and the death was considered natural.

Ride: Primeval Whirl (Animal Kingdom)
Date: 11/27/2007
Cause of Death: Head Injury
Lawsuit: OSHA fined Walt Disney World $25,500 and charged them with 5 safety violations. The fines were: $15,000 for three serious violations; $7,500 for still missing a handrail that had been reported; and $3,000 for not responding to OSHA requests within the requested time period.
Incident: A 63-year-old employee died from a brain injury sustained four days earlier when she was hit by a ride vehicle after falling from a restricted area of the ride platform.

Ride: Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (Disney’s Hollywood Studios)
Date: 6/29/2006
Cause of Death: Natural Causes (Undiagnosed Preexisting Condition)
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 12-year-old boy was found to be unresponsive after the ride ended. His father administered CPR until paramedics arrived, but he was declared dead on the way to Celebration Hospital. A medical examiner determined that the boy had an undiagnosed congenital heart defect.

Ride: Mission: Space (Epcot)
Date: 4/12/2006
Cause of Death: Natural Causes (Preexisting Condition)
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 49-year-old woman fell ill after riding Mission: Space and died at Celebration Hospital. An autopsy determined that she died from a brain hemorrhage caused by long standing and severe high blood pressure.

Ride: Wave Pool (Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon)
Date: 8/4/2005
Cause of Death: Natural Causes
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 12-year-old girl felt ill while using the wave pool. Lifeguards talked with her after noticing her lying down on the side of the pool and she said she felt fine, but passed out shortly after. Lifeguards performed CPR on her until paramedics arrived, but she was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at Celebration Hospital. The autopsy showed that she died due to arrhythmia caused by an early-stage viral heart infection.

Ride: Mission: Space (Epcot)
Date: 6/13/2005
Cause of Death: Natural Causes (Undiagnosed Preexisting Condition)
Lawsuit: Disney settled for an undisclosed amount
Incident: A 4-year-old boy died after exiting the ride. An autopsy found that the boy died as a result of an existing, undiagnosed idiopathic heart condition called myocardial hypertrophy. On June 12, 2006, his parents filed a lawsuit against Disney, claiming that Disney should have never allowed a 4-year-old on the ride due to the ride’s height restriction for size over 44 inches, and did not offer an adequate medical response after he collapsed and later died. Disney did not keep a defibrillator near Mission:SPACE, one of the park’s most intense ride.

Ride: Dinosaur (Animal Kingdom)
Date: 4/30/2005
Cause of Death: Natural Causes (Heart Condition)
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 30-year-old man lost consciousness shortly after exiting the ride and died from a heart attack moments later. He had an artificial pacemaker.

Ride: Pirates of the Caribbean (Magic Kingdom)
Date: 2/2005
Cause of Death: Natural Causes (Stroke)
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 77-year-old woman lost consciousness and died after riding the Pirates of the Caribbean. A medical examiner’s report said the victim was in poor health and she had several ministrokes.

Ride: Backstage (Magic Kingdom)
Date: 2/11/2004
Cause of Death: Hit by Vehicle
Lawsuit: OSHA has fined the entertainment giant $6,300 and issued a serious citation for having employees in restricted areas.
Incident: A 38-year-old cast member dressed as Pluto died at the Magic Kingdom when he was run over by the Beauty and the Beast float in the Share a Dream Come True Parade.

Ride: N/A (Catch Pool)
Date: 2/7/2003
Cause of Death: Pulmonary Embolism
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 31-year-old woman tripped and fractured her ankle on stairs leading to a catch pool. She died of pulmonary embolism the following month.

Ride: Splash Mountain (Magic Kingdom)
Date: 11/5/2000
Cause of Death: Blunt Force Trauma
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 37-year-old man was fatally injured while trying to exit the ride vehicle while it was moving. He told fellow passengers that he felt ill and attempted to reach one of the attraction’s emergency exits. He was struck by the following ride vehicle and died.

Ride: Skyway (Magic Kingdom)
Date: 2/14/1999
Cause of Death: Fall
Lawsuit: OSHA fined Disney World $4,500 for violating federal safety codes.
Incident: A 65-year-old custodian was killed while cleaning the Fantasyland Skyway station platform. The ride was turned on by staff who were likely unaware that he was there, and he fell off the seat. He was in the path of the ride vehicles and tried to grab a passing seat, but lost his grip and fell 40 feet. The Skyway ride, which had been scheduled to be closed before the accident occurred, was permanently closed on November 10, 1999.

Ride: Body Wars (Epcot)
Date: 5/16/1995
Cause of Death: Natural Causes (Preexisting Condition)
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 4-year-old girl with a known heart condition passed out during a ride in the Wonders of Life pavilion. The ride was immediately stopped and paramedics airlifted her to Orlando Regional Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.

Ride: Disney’s Contemporary Resort Hotel
Date: 11/12/1992
Cause of Death: Fall
Lawsuit: None
Incident: An off-duty cast member fell off the ledge outside the Top of The World restaurant on the Contemporary Resort’s 15th floor. He was sitting on the ledge when a swarm of wasps appeared, and when he tried to swat them away he lost his balance, falling 11 stories.

Ride: Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Date: 10/9/1989
Cause of Death: Boat Accident
Lawsuit: The deceased’s husband sued Disney for $240 million. He said Disney offered ”a settlement in the seven figures” last week to keep the suit out of court, but he declined, saying the offer was too low. The final result is unknown.
Incident: A 33-year-old woman was killed when a small speed boat collided with a ferry boat. She and her son were broadsided by the ferry while trying to film friends and family members who were water skiing in the Seven Seas Lagoon. A crew member and a visitor on the ferry dove into the water and rescued her son who was not hurt. The family sued, claiming that the ferry’s operators should have seen the speedboat before it came so close.

Ride: Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
Date: 7/10/1989
Cause of Death: Drowning
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 13-year-old boy drowned at River Country while swimming with eight classmates and two counselors. Another swimmer felt the youth under his feet in about five feet of water and dragged him out.

Ride: N/A (Epcot)
Date: 8/1/1987
Cause of Death: Plane Accident
Lawsuit: Unknown
Incident: A 27-year-old cast member was killed when the ultralight plane he was flying crashed during a show rehearsal. He was practicing for Epcot’s “Skyleidoscope” show at an altitude of 500-1000 feet when the ultralight suffered catastrophic structural failure, nosediving into the ground about 150 yards from Disney’s airfield and 1.5 miles from Epcot.

Ride: Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
Date: 5/23/1987
Cause of Death: Drowning
Lawsuit: Disney settled for $250,000
Incident: A 6-year-old boy drowned in a swimming pool. The family later sued, stating that the resort should have had more than one lifeguard on duty to monitor the crowded pool and that the pool should have had a safety line between the shallow and deep ends.

Ride: N/A (Epcot Parking Lot)
Date: 1/14/1986
Cause of Death: Drowning
Lawsuit: None
Incident: The bodies of a 33-year-old man and a woman were found in a retention pond after they drove their car down an embankment and into the water during a heavy rainstorm several days earlier. Authorities speculate that the two attempted to escape from the vehicle through the driver’s side window as it sank into the six-foot-deep water.

Ride: N/A (Epcot Parking Lot)
Date: 11/21/1984
Cause of Death: Plane Accident
Lawsuit: Unknown
Incident: A couple and their 1-year-old daughter were killed when the single-engine plane they were flying in crashed while attempting an emergency landing in the Epcot parking lot. The aircraft was approaching an empty section of the parking lot when it clipped a light pole, shearing off the right wing, and crashing into several parked cars. The family was flying from South Carolina to Florida for a Disney World vacation.

Ride: Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
Date: 8/9/1982
Cause of Death: Drowning
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 14-year-old boy drowned at River Country. He was pulled from the water at the River Country Cove about five minutes after he slid down a 60-foot slide into five feet of water.

Ride: N/A (Tram)
Date: 6/12/1982
Cause of Death: Fall
Lawsuit: Unknown
Incident: A 1-year-old girl was killed when she fell from a tram in a parking lot.

Ride: Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
Date: 4/16/1982
Cause of Death: Unknown
Lawsuit: Unknown
Incident: A 36-year-old woman collapsed and died while walking away from the Water Flume ride in River Country.

Ride: Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
Date: 4/6/1982
Cause of Death: Head Injury
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 2-year-old girl died after being injured outside a park restaurant. She was standing in line with her family outside the Coral Isle Coffee Shop when she and her 12-year-old sister were playing with a rope tied to a large menu board. The girls pulled on the rope and the board fell on top of the toddler, killing her.

Ride: Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
Date: 8/22/1980
Cause of Death: Amoebic Meningoencephalitis
Lawsuit: None; it was ruled that this bacteria can live in any warm water, so it was not the fault of Disney.
Incident: An 11-year-old boy died after swimming in the River Country water park. The cause of death was amoebic meningoencephalitis, a rare disease caused by a single-celled amoeba, traces of which were found in the water. It entered through his nose and made its way to his brain.

Ride: Main Street, U.S.A. (Magic Kingdom)
Date: 8/11/1977
Cause of Death: Drowning
Lawsuit: The family sued Disney for $4 million and won; however, the jury found the parents 50% liable for allowing the boy to climb over a fence and reduced the settlement amount to $2 million.
Incident: A 4-year-old boy drowned in the moat surrounding Cinderella Castle.

Ride: N/A (Magic Kingdom)
Date: 11/4/1974
Cause of Death: Explosion
Lawsuit: In 1976, the widow of the carpenter filed a suit against 3M and the Travelers Indemnity Company
Incident: A carpenter died from a mini-explosion caused by glue at a construction area in the park.

It’s a Small World Ride Deaths

Ride: It’s a Small World (Magic Kingdom)
Date: 12/25/2014
Cause of Death: Natural Causes (Preexisting Condition)
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 22-year-old woman lost consciousness after riding the attraction and later died. The woman had a pre-existing condition.

Space Mountain Deaths

Ride: Space Mountain (Magic Kingdom)
Date: 7/7/2015
Cause of Death: Natural Causes (Preexisting Condition)
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 55-year-old woman died of cardiopulmonary arrest and septic shock at Florida Hospital Celebration after losing consciousness while on the ride. According to the medical examiner, her medical history showed a history of hypertension and congestive heart failure.

Ride: Space Mountain (Magic Kingdom)
Date: 12/7/2006
Cause of Death: Natural Causes (Heart Condition)
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 73-year-old man lost consciousness while riding Space Mountain. He was transported to a hospital and died three days later. The medical examiner found that the man died of natural causes due to a heart condition.

Ride: Space Mountain (Magic Kingdom)
Date: 8/1/2006
Cause of Death: Natural Causes (Cancer)
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 6-year-old boy fainted after riding Space Mountain and was taken to Celebration Hospital where he died. The victim was a terminal cancer patient visiting the park as a part of the Give Kids the World program. He died of natural causes due to a metastatic pulmonary blastoma tumor.

Ride: Space Mountain (Magic Kingdom)
Date: 8/12/1980
Cause of Death: Natural Causes (Preexisting Condition)
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 10-year-old girl became ill while riding Space Mountain. She later died of a pre-existing heart condition from a lack of oxygen.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Deaths

Ride: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Magic Kingdom)
Date: 2/2017
Cause of Death: Natural Causes (Preexisting Condition)
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 54-year-old man died after riding the attraction. The Orange County Medical Examiner’s Office stated that “the death did not appear to be one of [the examiner’s] cases, so the man likely had an attending physician who agreed to sign out the death certificate due to natural causes.”

Disney World Suicides

There have been four reported suicides at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Ride: N/A (Disney’s Contemporary Resort)
Date: 3/4/2020
Cause of Death: Suicide
Lawsuit: None
Incident: Deputies from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office responded to the resort around 4 p.m. after receiving a call that a woman may have jumped off of the building. Upon arrival they found an unresponsive woman who was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Ride: N/A (Disney’s Contemporary Resort)
Date: 3/22/2016
Cause of Death: Suicide
Lawsuit: None
Incident: The monorail’s service was temporarily suspended while the Orange County Sheriff’s Office investigated a potential suicide. According to some sources, the person jumped to their death inside the central A-frame tower.

Ride: N/A (Doubletree Guest Suites)
Date: 6/19/2010
Cause of Death: Suicide
Lawsuit: None 
Incident: A dead body was discovered at the hotel. The manner of death was originally unknown, but was later ruled a suicide.

Ride: N/A (Epcot)
Date: 9/12/1992
Cause of Death: Suicide
Lawsuit: None
Incident: A 37-year-old man entered Epcot after closing and pointed a shotgun at three security guards, demanding to see his ex-girlfriend who worked there. He fired four blasts at the guards and took two guards hostage in a restroom near the Journey Into Imagination pavilion. When Orange County sheriff’s deputies surrounded the area, the shooter released his hostages and emerged with the shotgun held to his chest. After exchanging words with deputies, he put the gun to his head and fired. Investigators attributed his actions to a recent breakup with his long-time girlfriend.

Sources

https://www.ocregister.com
https://www.latimes.com
https://www.nytimes.com
https://www.orlandosentinel.com
https://deadline.com
http://www.cnn.com
https://www.nbcnews.com
https://disney.fandom.com/wiki/Incidents_at_Disneyland_Resort
https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/disneyland-deaths
https://floridapolitics.com/

 

For more information, contact the Orange County injury attorneys at DiMarco | Araujo | Montevideo.

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