Thursday, October 30, 2014

Top 5: Gruesome Deaths at Disneyland

Halloween is just around the corner, and that means that Mickey's Halloween Party is in full swing. But let's talk about something even spookier. Disneyland may be the Happiest Place on Earth, but it holds some dark secrets. In Disneyland's 59-year history, a total of 21 guests have died on Disneyland Resort property. Although most of them were the fault of negligent guests, some were under extremely unfortunate circumstances. Let's look at the top 5 most sickening deaths at Disneyland, Halloween style!

WARNING: The following includes graphic descriptions of death and injury at Disneyland. It is not for the faint of heart.

5. PeopleRemover

The PeopleMover has been responsible for many accidents over the years, but none quite as gruesome as its first. In August of 1967, only one month into the PeopleMover's operation, a teenager named Rick Yama was jumping from car to car when he tripped and fell onto the track. After being dragged a few hundred feet, the ride operators shut down the ride. His head and upper body crushed under the weight of the 4,100 pound train, Yama was pronounced dead at the scene. So after only one month, the PeopleMover had claimed its first, and certainly not last, victim.

4. Flailing Ship Columbia

In 1998, 33-year-old Luan Phi Dawson was spontaneously killed by one of the most seemingly harmless rides in the park: The Sailing Ship Columbia. Traveling at only 1.3 knots, it's hard to imagine this tame boat ride posing much threat to anyone. But on this fateful Christmas Eve day, a metal cleat strung to an elastic rope came loose, striking Dawson in the head and killing him. The horror of this incident is its unpredictability.

3. Splatterhorn

Surprisingly, the Matterhorn has had quite a clean track record in its 55-year history. But even the famed mountain bobsleds have taken the life of a patron. In January of 1984, 48-year-old Dolly Regene Young was riding alone, when she was thrown from her vehicle into the path of an oncoming bobsled. Young was run over, her head and chest pinned underneath the wheels of the vehicle. An investigation failed to determine whether she had deliberately unbuckled her seatbelt, or if the ride operators had neglected to ensure her safety.

2. America Screams

America Sings was a short-lived attraction in Tomorrowland, but in its 14-year run, it still managed to cause mayhem. On a summer day in 1974, 18-year-old Deborah Gail Stone, a cast member who greeted guests at the door, was crushed between the rotating walls of the carousel theater. Ride operators shut down the attraction when guests reported screaming backstage.

1. Blunder Mountain

In 2003, Marcelo Torres was in the first passenger car of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad when the locomotive car at the front derailed and landed on top of him, killing him. An investigation turned up evidence that the locomotive, purely used for aesthetic reasons, was not fastened properly. Along with Torres, ten other guests were injured in this horrible accident.

With over 16 million people visiting Disneyland every single year, it should come as no surprise that incidents occur. No matter how many safety precautions the park takes to eliminate accidents, they are inevitable. About four of the total Disneyland deaths were the park's fault, as most injury and death at Disneyland seems to be from guest carelessness. In fact, Luan Phi Dawson was the first guest to die on a Disneyland ride wherein the cause of death was the fault of a cast member. On that note, continue to enjoy Mickey's Halloween Party (I hope you weren't too disturbed by this article). I'll finally be back in the park next month with some updates.



  1. I think just about anyone who's ever searched 'Disneyland murder secrets' (or something like that search) has found out about Debbi Stone. This is, like, the fourth or fifth website I've found the America Sings tragedy on.