List of incidents at Walt Disney World

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This is a summary of notable incidents that have taken place at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The term "incidents" refers to major injuries, deaths, loss (or injury), or significant crimes related to the attractions themselves, or personal altercations and incidents between the theme park guests and employees. Attraction-related incidents usually fall into one of the following categories:

  • Negligence on the park’s part, either by ride operator or maintenance.
  • Negligence on the guest’s part—this includes refusal to follow specific ride safety instructions, or deliberate intent to break park rules.
  • The result of a guest's known or unknown health issues.
  • Acts of God, which include generic accidents (e.g. slipping and falling) that are not the direct result of an action on anyone's part.

According to a 1985 Time magazine article, nearly 100 lawsuits are annually filed against Disney for various incidents.[1] Florida theme parks are required to notify the state of any ride-related injuries or illnesses that require a hospital stay of at least 24 hours.[2]

Disney Transport[edit]

Ferry Boat[edit]

  • On April 22, 2010, a 61-year-old woman from Skipton, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom (who had a vacation house in Celebration, Florida at the time) suffered a collapsed lung, fractured ribs, and back pain due to a boating accident near the Magic Kingdom. The rented Sea Raycer that her husband was driving collided with a Disney ferryboat. The Orange County Sheriff's report later stated that the Sea Raycer crossed in the ferry's right-of-way.[3]

Bus[edit]

  • On March 23, 2010, a Disney transportation bus rear-ended a private charter bus near the entrance to the Epcot parking lot. Seven guests aboard the Disney bus received minor injuries, while the bus driver was reported to have received critical injuries.[4]
  • On April 1, 2010, a 9-year-old boy from Redington Beach, Florida was crushed to death by a Disney transportation bus at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground while riding his bicycle with an 11-year-old girl. A report from the Florida Highway Patrol says that 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.[5] The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.[6] A preliminary report stated that the bus driver, who has 30 years' experience with Disney, was not impaired or driving recklessly and that charges probably would not be filed, pending a full investigation of the incident.[5] In October 2010, Disney World was sued for $15,106 by the boy's mother.[7] Disney settled out of court in 2012 with her.[8]
  • On December 26, 2010, a 69-year-old Massachusetts man died after stepping in front of a moving Disney transportation bus in the parking lot of Disney's Port Orleans Resort.[9]
  • On August 6, 2017, a bus driver, 47-year-old Collins Yakep of Orlando, suffered serious injuries and was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center after a collision occurred at an intersection. 34-year-old Ritesh Bhagani of Winter Garden, Florida was driving north on Buena Vista Drive in a black late-2000s Cadillac Escalade SUV when he ran a red light and struck the front side of the bus as he was turning. The passengers and driver onboard the vehicles were taken to Dr. P. Phillips Hospital suffering minor injuries.[10]

Car[edit]

  • On July 10, 1990, three teenagers were killed when their late-model Ford Mustang smashed into the rear of a bus during a high-speed pursuit near the Caribbean Beach Resort at Disney World property. A fourth teen was later treated with critical injuries. The Florida Highway Patrol investigated that the Mustang was traveling between 85-to-90 MPH when it smashed into the bus with no passengers inside during the morning hours.[11]
  • On April 1, 1995, a 9-year-old boy from Michigan was killed after being fatally struck by a moving car driven by a 17-year-old Disney employee from Kissimmee in the parking lot. The boy was airlifted to Orlando Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead the following day. A few months after the incident, his parents filed a lawsuit on July 7 of that year seeking an unspecified amount of damage.[12]

Monorail[edit]

  • On February 12, 1974, the Mark IV Monorail Blue rear ended the Mark IV Monorail Red due to driver error. One driver and two passengers were injured.[13]
  • On June 26, 1985, a fire engulfed the rear car of the six-car Mark IV Silver monorail train in transit from the Epcot station to the Transportation and Ticket Center.[14] This fire pre-dated onboard fire detection systems, emergency exits, and evacuation planning. Passengers in the car kicked out side windows and climbed around the side of the train to reach the roof, where they were subsequently rescued by the Reedy Creek Fire Department.[15] Seven passengers were hospitalized for smoke inhalation or other minor injuries.[16] The fire department later determined that the fire started when a flat tire dragged across the concrete beam and was ignited by the frictional heat.[17]
  • On July 5, 2009, during a failed track switchover from the Epcot line onto the Magic Kingdom express line, Monorail Pink backed into Monorail Purple at the Transportation & Ticket Center station, killing Monorail Purple’s pilot, 21-year-old Austin Wuennenberg of Kissimmee, Florida.[18] One employee and six guests who were also on the trains were treated at the scene and released.[19] OSHA and park officials inspected the monorail line and the monorail reopened on July 6, 2009, after new sensors and operating procedures were put in place.[20][21] 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.[22] 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.[23] OSHA proposed a total of $44,000 fines against Disney for safety violations, but that amount was later reduced to $35,200.[24]
  • On November 18, 2015, Monorail Coral was being towed by a monorail tug for an unknown reason. The monorail separated from the tug, then crashed into it, causing damage to the body of the monorail and shattering the windshield. All monorail lines were shut down after the accident but resumed operations the next day.[25][26]

Parking Lot Tram[edit]

  • On June 12, 1982, a 1-year-old girl from Muscatine, Iowa was killed after she fell out of the tram when it made a sudden turn in the parking lot leading to the Magic Kingdom.[27]

Bike[edit]

  • On February 2, 2023, a 53-year-old Colombian man was struck by an oncoming car while riding his bicycle on Osceola Parkway, forcing closure to ramps leading to Disney's Hollywood Studios. He was airlifted to Osceola Regional Medical Center where he was later pronounced dead after arrival.[28]

Disney's Animal Kingdom[edit]

Avatar Flight of Passage[edit]

  • Several instances of visitors losing consciousness on the ride have been reported, leading to the installation of warning cards for riders before entering the ride. The cards are similar to those on Mission: Space and warn riders about fear of heights, motion sickness, and the seating restraints.[29]

Dinosaur[edit]

  • On April 30, 2005, a 30-year-old man from Mooresville, Indiana, lost consciousness shortly after exiting the ride and died from a heart attack moments later. An investigation showed the ride was operating correctly and was not the cause of the man’s death; he had an artificial pacemaker.[30]

Expedition Everest: Legend of the Forbidden Mountain[edit]

  • On December 18, 2007, a 44-year-old man from Navarre, Florida, lost consciousness while riding the coaster. He was given CPR on the ride's loading platform and was later pronounced dead at the hospital.[31] The Orange County medical examiner's office conducted an autopsy and concluded that the victim died of dilated cardiomyopathy and the death was considered natural.[32]

Kali River Rapids[edit]

  • On May 29, 2007, five guests and one cast member were injured when an emergency exit platform malfunctioned. The guests were exiting a Kali River Rapids raft during a ride stoppage triggered by a monitoring sensor. The raft was on a steep incline and the emergency exit platform was designed to allow guests to easily access the emergency stairs from the incline. After an investigation determined that the platform "disengaged and slid", it was removed and an alternative evacuation procedure was adopted.[33] The six people were taken to local hospitals for minor injuries and were later released.[34]

Primeval Whirl[edit]

  • On November 27, 2007, a 63-year-old cast member 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.[35] On May 23, 2008, OSHA fined Walt Disney World $25,500 and charged the company with five 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.[36]
  • On March 13, 2011, a 52-year-old cast member sustained head injuries while working on the ride and was airlifted to Orlando Regional Medical Center, where he later died. The ride was undergoing maintenance and was closed to the public at the time of the incident.[37]

Disney's Blizzard Beach[edit]

Downhill Double Dipper[edit]

  • On March 15, 2007, a man with a pre-existing medical condition collapsed on the stairs as he was waiting in line, then went into cardiac arrest after riding. He was then taken to Florida Hospital Celebration Health and died from suffering a heart attack.[38]

Melt-Away Bay[edit]

  • On June 10, 2018, a 71-year-old man with a pre-existing medical condition was found unresponsive in the wave pool. He was taken to a nearby hospital and died due to suffering a heart attack shortly after arrival.[39]

Disney's Hollywood Studios[edit]

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular![edit]

  • In 1990, OSHA fined the resort $1,000 after three performers were injured in three separate incidents.[40]
    • In one incident, a performer fell 30 feet (9.14 m) when a restraining cable failed.
    • In another incident, a performer fell 25 feet (7.62 m) when a prop ladder unexpectedly collapsed.
    • A third performer was pinned by a malfunctioning trap door.[40] OSHA cited Disney for failing to provide adequate fall protection, including padding and other equipment.[40]
    • Later, while rehearsing a new, safer routine, another performer fell 25 feet (7.62 m) onto concrete.[40]
  • In a rehearsal on August 17, 2009, a 30-year-old performer named Anislav Varbanov died after injuring his head while performing a tumbling roll.[41] The next day’s performances were canceled out of respect for him.[41]

Rock 'n' Roller Coaster[edit]

  • On June 29, 2006, a 12-year-old boy visiting from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, was found to be unresponsive after the ride ended. Though his father administered CPR until Reedy Creek paramedics arrived, he was declared dead on the way to Celebration Hospital.[42] The ride was shut down for the investigation and reopened a day later after inspectors determined that the ride was operating normally. A medical examiner determined that the boy had an undiagnosed congenital heart defect.[43]

Star Tours – The Adventures Continue[edit]

  • On October 24, 2016, a 67-year-old man from Memphis, Tennessee, died after riding Star Tours. The rider had a pre-existing heart condition, along with other contributing factors. The incident was described as part of a quarterly report filed with the Florida Department of Agriculture, which oversees the safety of the state's amusement parks.[44][45]

Toy Story Mania![edit]

  • In October 2014, a 64-year-old woman lost consciousness on the ride and died. The death wasn't believed to be related to the ride.[46]

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror[edit]

  • On July 12, 2005, a 16-year-old girl from Kibworth, Leicestershire, United Kingdom complained of a severe headache and other symptoms after riding the Tower of Terror. She was taken to Celebration Florida Hospital Health in nearby Orlando in critical condition,[47] where she underwent surgery for intracranial bleeding. On August 6, 2005, she returned to the United Kingdom via air ambulance. While she had reportedly ridden the attraction several times during her visit with no ill effects,[48] she had been in pain for a few days prior to the incident. She had a massive stroke leading to cardiac arrest. After an examination by both Disney and state inspectors showed no ride malfunction, the ride was reopened the next day. She returned home safely after spending six months in the hospital due to two heart attacks and surgery.[49] On February 13, 2009, the victim's family sued Disney for negligence in the ride’s design, failing to adequately warn riders, and not providing proper safety restraints. They were seeking at least US$15 million.[50] The lawsuit was voluntarily dismissed in 2012.[51]

Other incidents[edit]

  • On February 8, 1990, a 19-year-old employee from Apopka, Florida died after falling 33 feet from a scaffold while working on an air-conditioner at the park's sound stage. He was pronounced dead after arriving at Orlando Regional Medical Center.[52]

Epcot[edit]

Body Wars[edit]

  • On May 16, 1995, a 4-year-old girl from Galveston, Texas, with a known heart condition passed out during a ride on the Body Wars attraction 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. An autopsy was inconclusive as to whether the ride had aggravated her condition.[53]

Frozen Ever After[edit]

  • On January 18, 2023, a 56-year-old man had an undisclosed "cardiac event" after riding the Frozen Forever After boat ride at Epcot in October. Details surrounding the incident after the Frozen ride have not been released.[54]

Mission: Space[edit]

  • From June 2005 through June 13, 2006, paramedics were called for 194 Mission Space riders. Dizziness, nausea, and vomiting were the most common complaints, according to Reedy Creek Fire Department records. Out of the 194 riders, 25 people passed out, 26 had difficulty breathing, and 16 reported irregular heartbeats or chest pain.[55]
  • On June 13, 2005, a 4-year-old boy from Sellersville, Pennsylvania, died after riding Mission: Space. An autopsy by the Orange County Medical Examiner's Office released on November 15, 2005, 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 (110 cm), and did not offer an adequate medical response after he collapsed and later died.[56] A settlement between the child's parents and Disney was reached in October 2006, and the lawsuit was voluntarily dismissed on January 30, 2007.[57]
  • On April 12, 2006, a 49-year-old woman from Schmitten, Germany, fell ill after riding Mission: Space and died at Florida Hospital Celebration Health hospital in nearby Celebration, Florida. An autopsy determined that she died from a brain hemorrhage caused by longstanding and severe high blood pressure; there was no evidence of trauma attributable to the ride.[58]

Parking lot[edit]

  • On November 21, 1984, a husband and wife, along with their 1-year-old daughter, were killed and two other children were injured when the single-engine plane they were flying in crashed while attempting an emergency landing in the Epcot parking lot. The Piper 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 Greer, South Carolina, to Kissimmee, Florida, for a Disney World vacation.[59][60]
  • On January 14, 1986, the bodies of a 33-year-old man and a woman were discovered floating 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. The vehicle's lights and windshield wipers were found in the "on" position, leading authorities to believe that the driver lost visibility during the rainstorm, jumped a curb, and slid down an embankment into the pond.[61]

Spaceship Earth[edit]

  • On August 14, 1999, a 5-year-old boy was seriously injured after exiting a ride car. He was treated for an open compound fracture at the Orlando Regional Medical Center.[62]
  • On May 30, 2021, a 58-year-old man with a pre-existing heart condition passed out and later died after exiting the attraction.[63]

Test Track[edit]

  • On January 29, 2018, a 20-year-old man from Venezuela was accused and charged with lewd and lascivious behavior after he molested an 8-year-old boy on the ride. The boy and his mother were seated next to the man who put one of his arms around the boy's chest, his hand on the boy’s knee, and touched the boy’s groin during the ride. He was arrested shortly thereafter, although he claimed it was an accident.[64]

Other incidents[edit]

  • On August 1, 1987, a 27-year-old male cast member from Winter Garden, Florida 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.[65]
  • On September 12, 1992, a 37-year-old man named Allen J. Ferris, from Rochester, New York, entered Epcot after the park closed its gates for the night, and brandished a shotgun at three security guards, demanding to see his ex-girlfriend who worked at the park. He fired four blasts at the guards and took two guards hostage in a restroom near the Journey Into Imagination pavilion. As Orange County sheriff's deputies surrounded the area, the man released his hostages and emerged from the restroom with the shotgun held to his chest. After exchanging words with deputies, he put the gun to his head and fired. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the Orlando Regional Medical Center. Investigators attributed his actions to a recent breakup with his long-time girlfriend.[66]
  • On November 5, 2017, 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 initially disclosed.[67]
  • On August 18, 2018, a 49-year-old man named Brian Christ was found dead inside a burning car near Disney's Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course in the park's resort area.[68]
  • On March 12, 2019, a worker died in an industrial incident behind the France Pavilion. No details are available on the cause of death, but it is believed he fell from the roof where the upcoming attraction Remy's Ratatouille Adventure was being developed.[69]
  • On November 1, 2019, a runner died while participating in Disney's Wine & Dine Weekend 5 km race. The victim collapsed while running on the course.[70]
  • On March 20, 2021, a 66-year-old male guest experienced medical issues near Spaceship Earth and was later pronounced dead at AdventHealth Celebration Hospital. According to the Medical Examiner's office, he died of natural causes stemming from heart problems.[71]

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex[edit]

  • On July 9, 2010, a 50-year-old electrician from Davenport, Florida was killed from a shock while working on a site near an electrical transformer.[72]
  • On April 17, 2022, a young boy had two of his fingers amputated after injuring his hand on a metal sign near the baseball field. His parents filed a lawsuit and are currently seeking more than $30,000 in damages and medical bill coverage in response to his injuries sustained after the incident.[73]

Magic Kingdom[edit]

Backstage[edit]

  • On February 11, 2004, a 38-year-old cast member dressed as Pluto, who had worked at the park for eight years, 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. Disney representatives commented that "very few... if any" guests had seen the incident.[74] This led OSHA to fine Disney US$6,300 for having employees in restricted areas.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad[edit]

  • In February 2017, a 54-year-old man died after riding the attraction. His cause of death was believed to be natural causes, as he had a pre-existing medical condition. Sheri Blanton from the Orange County Medical Examiner's Office stated in an email 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." She further said, "If he had been under a doctor's care and there was no trauma indicated, the medical examiner's office would not be notified." A Disney spokesperson said the ride was operating as normal.[75][76]
  • On May 22, 2023, a 44-year-old man collapsed and died after riding the attraction. A later report detailed that he died from natural causes.[77]

It's a Small World[edit]

  • On August 18, 1994, a 6-year-old girl from Miami, Florida, fell out of one of the ride's boats while it was in the loading area. Orange County authorities believe an incoming boat then struck her after the fall. The girl suffered a broken hip, a broken arm, and a collapsed lung. Paramedics took her to a hospital and she was able to recover fully from her injuries. The ride was closed for an inspection and reopened the following day.[78]
  • On December 25, 2014, a 22-year-old woman lost consciousness after riding the attraction and later died. The woman had a pre-existing condition.[46]

Main Street, U.S.A.[edit]

  • On August 11, 1977, a 4-year-old boy from Dolton, Illinois, drowned in the moat surrounding Cinderella Castle. His parents sued for negligence and were awarded compensation of $1.5 million.[79]

PeopleMover[edit]

  • On September 25, 2022, an 83-year-old man from West Palm Beach, Florida experienced a fatal heart attack and lost consciousness whilst riding the attraction. CPR was carried out after the ride had finished. The man was taken to Celebration Hospital but was pronounced dead at 5:04 p.m. The cause of death was reported as natural causes due to a pre-existing condition.[80]

Peter Pan's Flight[edit]

  • On February 14, 2006, a 70-year-old man was injured as he became pinned underneath one of the ride's vehicles after falling from the conveyor belt. He was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center by helicopter with life-threatening injuries. The ride temporarily shut down operation that same evening.[81]

Pirates of the Caribbean[edit]

  • In February 2005, a 77-year-old Minnesota 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. The report concluded that her death "was not unexpected."[82]
  • On August 6, 2009, 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. He was taken to Florida Hospital in Orlando, with injuries including a broken vertebra in his neck and severe lacerations on his head that required 55 stitches. He died four days later due to complications from the fall.[83]
  • On July 10, 2014, a man in his 40s from the United Kingdom was hospitalized after losing the tips of his ring and pinky fingers on his right hand while riding the Pirates of the Caribbean. The guest had his hand outside of the ride vehicle at the time of the incident. The ride was shut down briefly for inspection and later reopened after it was deemed safe.[84]

Prince Charming Regal Carousel[edit]

  • On December 12, 2010, a 77-year-old woman with pre-existing conditions collapsed after exiting. She later died due to the incident.[85]

Skyway[edit]

  • On May 23, 1982, a 20-year-old worker was standing near the ledge of the Fantasyland station when the Skyway started up; she grabbed onto a seat and traveled 100 feet (30 m) before a staff member stopped the ride. Some visitors climbed onto the roof of a nearby building, but couldn’t reach her. She fell 15 feet (5 m) to the roof, slid off, and dropped another 20 feet (6 m) to the ground; she injured her back but survived.[86][87]
  • On February 14, 1999, a 65-year-old part-time custodian was killed when he fell off a seat. He was cleaning the Fantasyland Skyway station platform when the ride was turned on by staff who were likely unaware that he was there. He was in the path of the ride vehicles and grabbed a passing seat in an attempt to save himself. He lost his grip, fell 40 feet (12 m), and landed in a flower bed near the Dumbo ride. He was dead on arrival at Orlando Regional Medical Center. The Skyway ride, which had been scheduled to be closed before the accident occurred, was permanently closed on November 10, 1999.[88] As a result of the accident, OSHA fined Walt Disney World US$4,500 for violating federal safety codes in that work area.[89] The incident echoed a similar incident at Disneyland Resort in 1994, when a 30-year-old man "fell" 20 feet (6 m) out of a Skyway cabin and subsequently attempted to sue Disney. In that case, however, the man later admitted that he had in fact jumped out of the ride, and the case was dismissed.[89]

Space Mountain[edit]

  • On August 12, 1980, a 10-year-old girl from Caracas, Venezuela, became ill while riding Space Mountain.[90][91] She later died of a pre-existing heart condition from a lack of oxygen.[92]
  • In 1998, a 37-year-old man was hit on the head by a falling object. His left arm was paralyzed, and he suffered from short-term memory loss (losing his job as a result). Two objects were discovered at the bottom floor of Space Mountain: a camera and a candle from Frontierland.[93]
  • On August 1, 2006, 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 Magic Kingdom as a part of the Give Kids the World program. The medical examiner's report showed that he died of natural causes due to a metastatic pulmonary blastoma tumor.[94]
  • On December 7, 2006, 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.[95]
  • On May 21, 2007, a brawl broke out after five intoxicated teenagers, all from Shirley, New York, swore and spat on other customers near Space Mountain. The Orange County Sheriff's Office reported that a 19-year-old man was threatening security shortly before the brawl started, and an arriving officer used a taser on a 17-year-old girl after she allegedly punched a security officer and everyone came under control. All five teens (ranged from 14 to 20 years old) were arrested on charges of battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest with violence, but only two were released with a $2,300 bond the following day.[96]
  • On July 7, 2015, a 55-year-old woman from Kingsport, Tennessee, 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.[97][98]

The Haunted Mansion[edit]

  • On October 19, 1991, a 15-year-old girl from Sarasota, Florida, was critically injured after she fell onto the ride’s tracks. According to witnesses, she was jumping from car to car and fell onto the track, where she was dragged under a moving car for at least 50 feet (15.24 m) before the ride stopped. She was airlifted to Orlando Regional Medical Center where she underwent emergency surgery for head and facial injuries.[99][100]
  • In February 2007, an 89-year-old woman fell and broke her hip while exiting a ride vehicle.[101]
  • On July 31, 2018, a 24-year-old from Winter Garden, Florida, who was a former Disney World cast member, entered a restricted area of the attraction and stole various costumes, props, and other items worth over $7,000. The suspect was arrested on May 17, 2019, and charged with burglary, grand theft, and dealing in stolen property.[102]
  • On April 12, 2021, a 66-year-old woman fell and broke her wrist while exiting the ride vehicle.[103]

Splash Mountain[edit]

  • On November 5, 2000, a 37-year-old man from St. Petersburg, Florida 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 marked emergency exits.[104] He was struck by the following ride vehicle and died at Celebration Hospital.[105]

Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe[edit]

  • In March 2010, a 4-year-old boy from San Diego, California, suffered severe face and neck burns after being scalded by a tray of hot nacho cheese. The accident occurred when the boy sat down to dinner in an unstable chair and grabbed a food tray to prevent himself from falling, resulting in the cheese falling off the tray and into his lap. The child’s parents sued Disney, with their attorney claiming that "the cheese should not have been that hot" and that Disney made no effort "to regulate and monitor the temperature of the nacho cheese which was being served to young children." A Disney representative commented on the incident: "It's unfortunate when any child is injured. We just received notice of the lawsuit and are currently reviewing it."[106] The family settled out of court in 2011.[107]

Other incidents[edit]

  • On May 29, 2007, a 34-year-old woman from Clermont, Florida, was attacked by a 51-year-old park guest from Anniston, Alabama, as they waited in line at the Mad Tea Party attraction.[108] The attacker was convicted on charges of battery[109] and sentenced to 90 days in jail; nine months of formal probation; and an anger management course.[110] The victim and her husband later filed two separate lawsuits against Disney. Her lawsuit claimed, among other things, that Walt Disney World provided inadequate staff and security at the ride; there was a lack of adequate training to recognize security threats; that the park did not anticipate the attack and have the attacker removed before anything happened; and that the following investigation was mishandled. Her husband’s lawsuit against Disney claimed the loss of his wife's support and companionship due to the attack.[111] In 2011, a jury found in favor of Disney.[112]
  • On October 17, 2019, a 50-year-old man from Orlando was arrested for lewd and lascivious molestation in multiple, separate incidents.[113]
  • On May 15, 2023, a brawl broke out at the Magic Kingdom Park entrance after one family asked another to move over so they could take a photo in front of the park's Disney 100th anniversary sign. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office said at least one person received medical treatment after the fight, but that they declined to press charges.[114]
  • On September 18, 2023, an adult black bear was seen in a tree near the Magic Kingdom, causing the closure of much of the west side of the park including parts of Adventureland, Frontierland, and Liberty Square. Attractions in the park reopened when the bear was captured by personnel from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for relocation to an area in or near Ocala National Forest.[115][116]

Fire breakouts[edit]

  • On November 4, 1974, a small explosion killed a 49-year-old Orlando carpenter and injured another at the maintenance area while working inside a half-finished 66 ft aluminum boat near the Magic Kingdom. Both men were taken to Orange Vista Hospital where one of the carpenters died from his injuries. The explosion happened nearly two hours after the theme park closed for the night.[117] A short time after investigating, Orange County detectives reported that glue fumes ignited by the filament of a fluorescent light may have caused the explosion.[118] On October 28, 1976, the widow of the carpenter filed a suit against 3M and the Traveler's Indemnity Company for the death of the carpenter.

Disney's Typhoon Lagoon[edit]

Miss Adventure Falls[edit]

  • On December 8, 2018, a 44-year-old man was seriously injured when his arm got caught in the conveyor belt. Employees' attempts to free the man were unsuccessful. After being freed by fire rescue personnel, the man was flown to a hospital by helicopter to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries. The ride was closed the following day pending further investigation.[119][120]

Wave pool[edit]

  • On August 4, 2005, a 12-year-old girl from Newport News, Virginia felt ill while using the wave pool. Lifeguards talked with her after noticing her lying down on the side of the pool; she said she felt fine, but passed out shortly after standing up. Though lifeguards performed CPR on her until paramedics arrived, she was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at Celebration Hospital.[121] The autopsy showed that she died due to arrhythmia caused by an early-stage viral heart infection.[122]

Other incidents involving guests[edit]

  • On July 3, 2009, a 51-year-old man from Farmington, New York, was charged with lewd and lascivious molestation after allegedly attempting to remove swimsuits from five teenage girls while all were in the wave pool. Disney security was notified and they called for Orange County deputies.[123]
  • On July 10, 2009, a 51-year-old Connecticut man was charged with lewd and lascivious exhibition after he allegedly fondled himself in front of a teenage girl near the park's wave pool. One eyewitness, a visitor who worked with paroled sex-offenders in Missouri, confronted the man who then fled the scene. As he attempted to leave the parking lot, he ran a stop sign and was stopped by an Orange County deputy, and after discovering the man had been driving with a suspended license, he was detained. The man denied the lewd conduct charges, claiming his European-style swimsuit was too small. This was the fifth sexual-related reported incident to occur at a Central Florida water park in 2009; the other parks aside from Typhoon Lagoon were Blizzard Beach; Aquatica; and Wet 'n Wild.[124] The charges were dropped in August 2009 after prosecutors determined there was insufficient evidence in the case.[125]
  • On July 16, 2009, a 29-year-old man from Washington was arrested and charged with one count of lewd and lascivious molestation of a 13-year-old boy.[126] He was sentenced to two years in prison.[127]
  • On July 3, 2016, a 27-year-old Indian national was arrested and charged with four counts of lewd and lascivious molestation on a child over 12 years old but under the age of 16, and two counts of battery on accusations of groping six people in the wave pool.[128] The man was released on bond a few days later.[129]
  • On October 14, 2019, a 30-year-old woman suffered severe intestinal and genital injuries while riding the Humunga Kowabunga slide.[130]

Characters[edit]

Costume-related issues[edit]

In 2005, Walt Disney World reported 773 injuries to OSHA for employees portraying any of 270 different characters at the parks.[131]

  • Of those injuries listed, 282 (roughly 36%) were related to costuming issues such as a costume’s weight affecting the head, neck, or shoulders.
    • 49 injuries (6%) were specifically due to the costume’s head.
  • 107 injuries (14%) were caused by park guests' interactions with the characters where the guest hit, pushed, or otherwise hurt (intentionally or not) the costumed cast member.
  • Other items in the report include skin rashes, bruises, sprains, or heat-related issues.

One change that Disney made to assist character performers was to change rules limiting the overall costume weight to be no more than 25% of the performer's body weight.[citation needed]

Guest altercations and other incidents[edit]

  • On April 1, 2004, a 36-year-old Disney cast member from St. Cloud, Florida, was arrested for allegedly fondling a 13-year-old and her mother while he was dressed as Tigger during a photo opportunity at Magic Kingdom's ToonTown on February 21, 2004. Originally charged with one count of simple battery and one count of lewd and lascivious molestation of a child between 12 and 15 years old,[132] the case went to trial, during which the defense produced the Tigger costume to demonstrate the difficulties of maneuvering the costume's oversized gloves and the actor’s limited line of sight in the costume. After less than an hour of deliberation, the jury acquitted the employee of all charges. He pleaded not guilty to the charges he faced during his testimony on August 3, 2004, and he returned to work at Disney later that month after a suspension.[133]
    • On September 15, 2004, the same cast member was suspended once again for allegedly shoving two other employees while he was dressed as Goofy at Animal Kingdom. Initially, the two employees believed that Goofy was their friend joking around until they saw the cast member relaxing backstage while partially out of costume.[134] During the investigation, two other Animal Kingdom employees came forward saying the cast member had touched their breasts. The lawyer claimed that the cast member was merely looking at their lanyards containing lapel trading pins.[135]
  • On January 5, 2007, a 14-year-old boy from Greenville, New Hampshire, was allegedly punched in the head by a 31-year-old Disney employee from Kissimmee, Florida, dressed as Tigger during a photo opportunity at Disney's Hollywood Studios.[136] The family felt that the act was deliberate and filed a police report of battery against the suspect.[137] The cast member was suspended pending the results of the investigation.[138] In the statement to the sheriff's office, he claimed that he was acting in self-defense as the child was pulling on the back of the costume and causing him to lose his breath.[139]
    • On February 15, 2007, the State Attorney General's office announced that no charges would be filed against the employee.[140]
  • On June 7, 2009, a 60-year-old man from Cressona, Pennsylvania, allegedly groped a cast member dressed as Minnie Mouse while visiting Magic Kingdom's ToonTown. The case went to trial on August 11, 2009. The man was convicted of charges of misdemeanor battery[141] and he was sentenced to 180 days of probation and 570 hours of community service.[142]
  • On August 12, 2010, a 27-year-old woman from Upper Darby Township, Pennsylvania, filed a lawsuit against Disney claiming that a cast member in costume as Donald Duck had groped her during a photo and autograph session while on a family vacation in May 2008. The lawsuit was for $200,000 in damages to compensate the alleged victim for negligence, battery, and infliction of emotional distress. The woman claimed to suffer from severe physical injury, emotional anguish, acute anxiety, headaches, nightmares, flashbacks, and other emotional and physical ailments.[143] Disney settled the lawsuit with the claimant for an undisclosed amount in 2011.[144]
  • On November 2, 2019, a 51-year-old sex offender was arrested and charged with battery after groping a cast member playing Ariel during a meet-and-greet.[145]

Resort hotels[edit]

Disney's Art of Animation Resort[edit]

  • On July 14, 2015, a 3-year-old child was found at the bottom of a resort pool after becoming separated from his parents. Officials with the Orange County Sheriff's Office reported the child was later pronounced dead at an area hospital.[146]
  • On June 25, 2017, a 5-year-old boy became separated from his parents while at the resort. The Reedy Creek Improvement District and the Orange County Sheriff's Office eventually found him drowning in one of the resort’s pools. The boy was airlifted to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children where he was reported to be in critical condition, though he later recovered.[147]

Disney's BoardWalk Inn[edit]

  • On June 29, 2000, a waiter and a child were held hostage by the child's father in a hotel room over domestic issues. During the hostage situation, other guests were evacuated and given alternative accommodations in the resort. The man released the hostages and handed himself over to authorities in the early hours of June 30, 2000.[148]

Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort[edit]

  • On October 31, 1992, a 21-year-old woman filed a lawsuit seeking damages after she was allegedly attacked in her hotel room. Although no suspicious suspect was reported during the scene of the crime, it was later reported that the incident was deemed as a scam, implying that the woman allowed her brother to verbally assault her. She was eventually taken into custody and faced criminal charges.[149][150]
  • On December 18, 2020, a 43-year-old female travel agent fell several stories from the resort and died four days later due to suffering blunt force trauma to the head after the fall. The District Nine Medical Examiner's Office did not file an autopsy report regarding the woman's death as it was deemed accidental since she apparently fell from a standing height, suffering a head injury.[151]

Disney's Contemporary Resort[edit]

  • On November 12, 1992, an off-duty cast member died after falling outside the Top of The World restaurant on the Contemporary Resort’s 15th floor. The cast member had been sitting on the ledge when a swarm of wasps appeared. The cast member lost his balance and fell to his death 11 stories below while trying to swat them away.[152]
  • On March 22, 2016, a death occurred at Disney's Contemporary Resort. The monorail's service was temporarily suspended while the Orange County Sheriff's Office investigated. Investigators announced that they believe that the person died by suicide. According to multiple sources, the person jumped to their death inside the central A-frame tower.[153][154][155][156]
  • On May 28, 2018, an intoxicated man was arrested at Disney's Contemporary Resort after he falsely told other guests an active shooter was in the resort. Panic soon followed and the resort was placed on lockdown until police arrived. The reports were traced back to the man, who was found hiding in bushes outside of the resort. In questioning, the man claimed he did it to get reactions from people for a class and his YouTube channel.[157]
  • On March 4, 2020, a woman died in an apparent suicide at Disney's Contemporary Resort. Deputies from the Orange County Sheriff's Office responded to the resort around 4 p.m. after receiving a call that someone may have jumped off of the building. Upon arrival and with help from the Reedy Creek Improvement District, they found an unresponsive woman who was later pronounced dead at the scene.[158]
  • On July 26, 2023, a 39-year-old man from Greendale, Wisconsin accidentally fell from a balcony to his death at Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary Hotel. An Orange County Medical Examiner told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the man died from blunt force trauma from an accidental fall.[159]

Disney's Fort Wilderness[edit]

  • On August 22, 1980, an 11-year-old boy from New York City died after swimming in the River Country water park next to the campground. The cause of death was amoebic meningoencephalitis, traces of which were found in the water.[160]
  • On April 16, 1982, a 36-year-old woman from Little Silver, New Jersey, collapsed and died while walking away from the Water Flume ride in River Country.[161]
  • On August 9, 1982, a 14-year-old boy from Erie, North Dakota, drowned at River Country. He was pulled from the water at the River Country Cove about five minutes after the youth slid down a 60 foot (18 m) slide into slightly less than 6 feet (1.75m) of water. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.[162]
  • On October 10, 1986, an 8-year-old boy was attacked by an alligator when he and his siblings were wandering near the lake's edge while watching ducks.[163][164]
  • On May 23, 1987, 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.[165]
  • On July 10, 1989, a 13-year-old boy from Longwood, Florida, drowned at River Country. He was swimming with eight classmates and two counselors. Fifteen minutes later, another swimmer felt the boy under his feet in about five feet (1.52 m) of water and dragged him out. He was pronounced dead on arrival at Sand Lake Hospital.[166]

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa[edit]

  • On October 9, 1989, a 33-year-old woman from Glen Cove, New York, was killed when a small speedboat collided with a ferry boat. She and her eight-year-old son were broadsided by the ferry while trying to videotape 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. The boy was not hurt in the accident.[167] The family sued Disney for $240 million, claiming that the ferry's operators should have seen the speedboat before it came so close.[168]
  • On June 14, 2016, a 2-year-old boy from Elkhorn, Nebraska, was attacked by an alligator at 9:15am 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 at approximately 1:45 PM the following afternoon, in the vicinity of where he went missing; he was found 12 to 15 yards (11 to 14 m) from the shore in about 6 feet (1.8 m) of water[169][170] The medical examiner ruled that the child died of "drowning and traumatic injuries." Reuters reported that the resort would put up signs around warning guests about alligators.[171] 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.[172]

Disney's Polynesian Village Resort[edit]

  • On April 6, 1982, a 2-year-old girl from Sunrise, Florida, 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. She was pronounced dead on arrival at Orange Vista Hospital.[173]

Disney's Pop Century Resort[edit]

  • On March 12, 2013, a 13-year-old from Springfield, Missouri, drowned at one of the pools in the resort. He was swimming in the Hippy Dippy pool with some other guests and there were no lifeguards on duty at the time when the incident occurred. The boy drowned in the 4 foot (1.2 m) 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 after being taken to the hospital.[174]
  • On July 3, 2016, a 7-year-old boy claimed that he was groped by a youth baseball coach from Wisconsin in one of the resort's pools. The coach was arrested and charged with four counts of lewd and lascivious molestation.[175]
  • On July 9, 2018, a 33-year-old cast member died in an industrial accident near the Pop Century and Caribbean Beach resorts. A Toro utility cart crushed the employee, causing him to fall unconscious. Workers were unable to lift the cart. Officials pronounced him dead at the scene.[176][177]

Dolphin & Swan Hotels[edit]

  • On August 14, 1989, at around 9 a.m., a 30-year-old male construction worker was connecting a scaffolding until losing his balance as he fell seventeen stories from the twenty-third floor and landed on the roof of the sixth floor of the Dolphin Hotel. He was pronounced dead an hour later after being taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center.[178]
  • On November 5, 2008, a 54-year-old Reedy Creek Energy Services electrician power technician from Rockledge, Florida, sustained major injuries in a power maintenance accident while working at one out of the two substations at the Swan Hotel. He was later pronounced dead from his injuries twenty days later. Two years later on November 15, 2010, the estate worker filed a wrongful death lawsuit against several of Disney entities or partners on its operation.[179]

Doubletree Guest Suites[edit]

  • On June 19, 2010, a dead body was discovered at the hotel. The manner of death was originally unknown but was later declared a suicide.[180][181]

JW Marriott Bonnet Creek[edit]

  • On August 29, 2018, two workers on the site of a hotel that was under construction fell to their death when scaffolding around the building collapsed.[182]

Discovery Island (Bay Lake)[edit]

  • In 2009, an account was published of an unauthorized exploration "a couple of years ago" with photographs by Shane Perez.[183] Eight years later in 2017, a film was published by Matt Sonswa of exploration of the island.[184]

Disney Springs[edit]

  • On the morning hours of November 22, 1999, a 26-year-old man from Hawley, Pennsylvania, who was a member of the American World Cup rugby team, sparked a brawl with a 24-year-old man from Banksmeadow, Australia in the parking lot leading to Pleasure Island after the rugby player spat at the 24-year-old man's new bride. The Orange County Sheriff's Office broke up the battle and placed the two men in handcuffs for disorderly conduct. They later confirmed that the 26-year-old man was intoxicated after drinking with other U.S. teammates including players from Italy and Lebanon.[185]

Walt Disney World Speedway[edit]

  • On April 12, 2015, a 36-year-old driving instructor was fatally injured and the driver was hospitalized with minor injuries after 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.[186] The Florida Highway Patrol investigated and announced that, while the decision to run vehicles clockwise (instead of counter-clockwise as the track was designed for) may have been a factor in the incident, it was an accident and no charges were filed against the driver since it occurred on private property.[187]

See also[edit]

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