7 Of The Worst Theme Park Accidents Ever Recorded
1. The Luna Park Fire
Location: Sydney, Australia
Date: June 9, 1979
What happened? Luna Park’s ghost train ride suddenly caught on fire one winter night as approximately 35 people were on board the train. Staff tried to pull everyone out of the cars as the train exited the tunnel that had been consumed by smoke. To this day, the exact cause of the fire has not been determined.
Deaths: Six children and one adult were killed in the fire. Authorities suspected that the victims had climbed out of their seats to attempt to flee the fire and smoke.
Aftermath: Luna Park shut down for three years while an investigation was made. Nothing came out of that investigation, along with a second inquest that took place in 1987. In 2007, a niece of crime boss Abe Saffron told The Sydney Morning Herald that her uncle had started the fire, claiming he “sought control of the fun park”. She denied this statement later on.
In 1995, Luna Park erected a memorial garden in remembrance of the seven victims.
2. Dreamworld’s Thunder River Rapids Ride Accident
Location: Gold Coast, Australia
Date: October 25, 2016
What happened? The Thunder River Rapids was a water ride that was considered a favourite at the park. Tragedy hit when four people were killed following a collision between two rafts. The collision caused one of the rafts to flip over, throwing two victims into the water and trapping two others. The Dreamworld disaster is considered the second-worst theme park tragedy in Australia.
As the Newcastle Herald noted, this was not the first time the park experienced safety issues. Just months before the tragedy, another water ride called the Rocky Hollow Log ride sent a teen falling into the water. Four years prior to the River Rapids tragedy, a ride called the WipeOut was also closed due to an incident.
Deaths: The accident claimed the lives of four victims.
Aftermath: On November 9, 2016, the amusement park announced the permanent closure of the ride. Shortly after the incident, the Busch Gardens park in Florida chose to close down its similar water ride – the Congo River Rapids – as an exercise in caution.
3. The Discovery Pendulum Disaster
Location: Kankaria, India
Date: July 14, 2019
What happened? The Discovery Pendulum, a spinning version of the swinging 1001 Nachts ride, snapped in half on a Sunday evening, causing the carriage to come crashing down. A video posted to Twitter captured the horrific moment the cable snapped.
Deaths: Two adults, 24-year-old Manali Rajvadi and 22-year-old Mohammed Zaid Momin died on the spot. Three people were left in a critical condition with one of them passing away shortly after. 27 others were injured in the crash.
4. The Fort Fun Freak Accident
Location: Sauerland, Germany
Date: October 2017
What happened? A 12-year-old boy was sliding down the 1.3-kilometre alpine coaster when his foot slipped and got caught between the tracks. The boy was immediately flown out to the nearest hospital where they had to sever his leg at the calf.
Aftermath: Though the ride was closed down indefinitely, the park has not been shut down by the incident.
5. The Ohio State Fair Incident
Location: Columbus, Ohio, USA
Date: July 26, 2017
What happened? When a pendulum ride called “The Fireball” malfunctioned one night in 2017, several seats dislodged from the swinging arm, flinging multiple passengers in the air. The accident caused one person to die and injured seven others. The Ohio governor John Kasich called the accident “the worst tragedy in the history of the fair”.
Aftermath: All the rides at the fair were shut down following the incident. An amusement park in Mission with a similar ride – the Beach Blaster – closed their ride in light of the accident. Two years after the tragedy, state lawmakers voted on a bill ensuring stricter safety standards for amusement parks.
6. Terrifying Trips Down The Tower Of Terror
Location: Disney California Adventure, Disneyland Paris, and Disney World Florida
What happened? While Disney’s theme parks haven’t had too many deaths or injuries compared to other parks around the world, its multiple Tower of Terror rides have terrorised riders over the years.
In 2005, a 16-year-old girl from the UK had a stroke and a heart attack following several bouts on the Florida ride. In 2010, a 20-year-old man fell 25 feet at the California ride. He survived the fall and was immediately brought to a hospital. Finally, in 2011, a 12-year-old Argentinian boy was paralysed from the neck down after riding Disneyland Paris’ version of the Tower of Terror.
7. The Fabbri Booster Ride
Location: Fête des Loges, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France
Date: August 4, 2007
What happened? In yet another tragic amusement park accident, a father and son were killed after a gondola broke away from the swinging arm of the Fabbri Booster ride. The basket came crashing down, killing the pair and injuring two more family members. Other riders were trapped some 30 plus metres off the ground for hours.