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The History of Tragedies at the Disneyland Theme Park

Published May 17, 2004 in ENTERTAINMENT
By Ryan Parsons | Snopes

Please understand that this is not an attack on Disneyland and their safety procedures. This article is written as an interesting piece of information about everybodies favorite theme park. Furthermore, it has been repeatedly pointed out that Disneyland does in fact have incredible safety control measures and were, at one time, considered over-staffed in their maintenance department.


1964, May : Matterhorn #1
Coming down from the summit of the bobsled ride, Mark Maples, a fifteen year old from Long Beach, felt a sudden need to stand up on the moving vehicle. Within moments Mark's friends heard a thump as Mark disappeared from vision. He landed on the track a few feet down sustaining skull and internal injuries. He died in a hospital four days later; never regaining consciousness from the accident.

Reason for the Accident
Could not blame disney as it was Mark who attempted to stand on his own accord. There were also proposed rumors that he may have been suicidal during his trip to Disneyland.



1966, June : Monorail (pictured above)
Guy Cleveland, in attempt to avoid Disneyland's admission price, tried to sneak into the park through the monorail track. After climbing a sixteen foot fence and ignoring constant shouts from Disney security, Guy was struck and dragged ~thirty-five feet by the monorail before it was able to stop. One of the most greusome of the Disney accidents with his body 'badly mangled.'

Reason for the Accident
The only fault was that of Guy's who attempted to sneak into Disneyland. However, it did show that if a person was on the Monorail track, there is no way to avoid the on-coming train. Guy attempted to climb down on the canopy beneath the track and the clearance was not enough.



1967, August : People Mover #1
It is hard to imagine that the People Mover could claim a life as it drives at approximately three miles per hour. But it not only claimed one life but two. The first incident occured as Rick Yama, a fifteen year old, tried to change cars while the cars were in motion [passing through a tunnel]. He slipped and was found wedged between the two cars with head and internal injuries.

Reason for the Accident
The People Mover has no restraining devices to keep an individual inside a moving car. This allows individuals to 'horse play' on the ride and take liberties such as attempting to change cars. However, the individual should be held responsible for taking inproper actions while riding. [did Disney have safety features which idle the cars when faced with obstructions such as Rick?]



1973, June : Rivers of America #1
Bodgen De Laurot, an 18-year old, and his younger brother, decided to stay on Tow Sawyer Island in order to watch the Disneyland fireworks. However, the rafts stop running at dusk and the two males had only two ways of getting back across. Either call for help from Disneyland staff or try to make a swim for it. It is still not known if the water was too cold, current too swift, or distance too long, but Bodgen was unable to swim the river and his body was not found until the following morning.

Reason for the Accident
Bogden and his brother broke Disney rules by staying on Tom Sawyer Island after the closing of the passenger rafts. However, how could it have been so hard to swim across the portion of the river to get from the island shore to the mainland?



1974, July: America Sings
America sings featured an outer ring of six seating areas which rotated around a stationary center housing multiple stages of show. Deborah Stone, an eighteen year old from Santa Ana, worked the attraction as a hostess. During the late evening Stone got to close between the revolving wall and the stationary one. She was crushed and found by Disneyland staff after recieving notice of screams from an adjacent theatre.

Reason for the Accident
Disneyland closed the attraction for two days in order to put in safety lights to warn people if they were to close to the revolving wall. A break-away wall was later added for increased safety.



1980, June : People Mover #2 (pictured above)
Very similar to the first People Mover accident. As the cars moved into the 'speeding tunnel', Geraldo Gonzalez, a San Diego HS student celebrating Grad Night, decided to switch cars in the middle of the tunnel. He also slipped and fell only to be hit by the on-coming car group following his own.

Reason for the Accident
Another attempt to switch cars, which is not allowed, while the vehicles were in motion.



1983, June : Rivers of America #2(pictured above)
While celebrating Grad Night at Disneyland, Philip Straughan and a friend decided to unfasten a rubber raft located in the Rivers of America to take for a joy ride. Unable to control the raft, the boys stuck a rock throwing Philip from the raft. Philip's body was found by Disneyland staff an hour later after drowning in the river.

Reason for the Accident
Accident brought on by alcohol and a complete lack of respect toward the Disney park rules.



1984, January : Matterhorn #2(pictured above)
Another accident very similar to the first. While almost two-thirds of the way done with the ride, Dollie Young, a forty-eight year old from Fremont, was thrown from the moving car only to be hit by a following car as she still bounced along the tracks.

Reason for the Accident
Disneyland staff swear that her seat belt was definately buckled as her car left the gate. However, it was definately unbuckled by the time she was thrown from the vehicle. Either the buckle failed or she may have accidently hit the buckle release while riding the bumpy ride [also could have been diliberate].



1998, December: Rivers of America: Columbia(pictured above)
A metal cleat holding the ship Columbia to dock was ripped loose flinging medal into the air. The cleat struck the heads of two guests who were waiting to board the ship, Luan Phi Dawson, 33, and his wife, Lieu Thuy Vuong, 43, along with a Disney park employee. Dawson died two days later from the brain trauma.

Reason for the Accident
One of the first accidents that was strictly due to park negligence and lack of maintanence and safety check procedures.



2003, September: Thunder Mountain
One of Thunder Mountain's guide wheels [the upstop wheel] disconnected from the train shortly before the accident. The guide wheels are very important for the run-away train ride as they enable it to do hard turns and lifts while remaining connected to the track. However, the missing guide wheel was found forty-five feet from the station. Because of this missing piece, the front cart disconnected from the track crushing Marcelo Torres. He bled to death after recieving force trauma to the chest.

Reason for the Accident
Lack of maintanence crew for the Thunder Mountain ride. Guide wheels were to be checked continuously due to their significant importance.



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Sources: Snopes

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