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"I'm going to DeathWorld DisneyWorld!"
June 30, 2006 5:11 AM   Subscribe

DisneyWorld's death toll since 1989
posted by rinkjustice (62 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Hmm, the strike tag was through the word "DeathWorld" and worked on preview but didn't when I posted.

Oh well, I guess we'll all have to use our imagination and pretend it's there.
posted by rinkjustice at 5:17 AM on June 30, 2006


15 deaths since 1989. Let's say about 15 million people, on average, visit a year. (This is, of course a bit low.) This puts us at about 250 million people since 1989.

This means that if you go to Disney World you have a 00.0000076% chance of getting killed.

I like those odds.
posted by SansPoint at 5:18 AM on June 30, 2006


How many visitors didn't die over the same time span? How many people died on the stretches of highway within 5 miles of DisneyWorld over the same time period?

Statistics: It's your friend and your enemy.
posted by pmbuko at 5:19 AM on June 30, 2006


It looks like only two or three of these are due to negligence or mistakes on the part of Disney as a whole. Considering at least 16 million people visit Disney World each year, it's almost surprising the "non-fault death rate" (i.e. heart attacks, strokes, spontaneous human combustion) isn't higher.
posted by Plutor at 5:21 AM on June 30, 2006


Or, what SansPoint and pmbuko said.
posted by Plutor at 5:21 AM on June 30, 2006


Plus. three of those are from Disneyland, on the other side of the country. Can we really include those in this?
posted by Katemonkey at 5:25 AM on June 30, 2006


I was in DisneyWorld in 1989.

I could've died!
posted by slimepuppy at 5:25 AM on June 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


Let the bodies hit the floor Let the bodies hit the floor Let the bodies hit the floor Let the bodies hit the floor

Idunno, after reading that list, I can't get that Drowning Pool song out of my head.
posted by rinkjustice at 5:29 AM on June 30, 2006


In fairness, the vast majority had pre-existing conditions.
posted by ChasFile at 5:31 AM on June 30, 2006


Thats it? I would've though the toll would be higher.
posted by Mach5 at 5:35 AM on June 30, 2006


I've never been to DisneyWorld.

I could've died!
posted by bwg at 5:37 AM on June 30, 2006


rinkjustice, I think you might be overreacting a bit. This reminds me of a local news story during sweeps.

"Sharks! They've got the taste for human blood! 10 billion people went into the ocean last year. 10 were viciously mauled to death by killer sharks. Run for your lives!"
posted by graventy at 5:38 AM on June 30, 2006


Mach5 : "Thats it? I would've though the toll would be higher."

These are just the names they've released to the public.
posted by graventy at 5:38 AM on June 30, 2006


SansPoint writes "15 deaths since 1989. Let's say about 15 million people, on average, visit a year. (This is, of course a bit low.) This puts us at about 250 million people since 1989.

"This means that if you go to Disney World you have a 00.0000076% chance of getting killed.


Bullshit or, to put it more politely so that I don't make Jebus and Mary Poppins cry, consider the following : going to Disneyland doesn't kill by itself, so you can't use the big number of people who just go to Disneyland, but you must consider only the people that took some particular rides, of some particular age and consider also the chances of having some particular health condition and so on.

Yeah it would be nice to do less work analyzing the problem, but guess what : I promise you are not going to die of overstudying ! And if you do I'll blame liberals :D !
posted by elpapacito at 5:38 AM on June 30, 2006


I was at Disney World in 1999. I almost died trying to "drink around the world" at Epcot.
posted by Armen Tanzarian at 5:43 AM on June 30, 2006


This is why my parents only took the family to Children's Fairyland in Oakland, California.
posted by parmanparman at 5:45 AM on June 30, 2006


I died at Disneyland.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:46 AM on June 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


Out of that entire list, filtering out the Disneyland items, and ignoring the oldest item for lack of details, there are two incidents of death at WDW that were not the result of either a pre-existing condition or a rider deliberately defeating safety restraints in order to knowingly do something stupid and dangerous. Both of those cases in which Disney bears some responsiblility involve cast members. So if anything WDW is a dangerous place to *work*, not to visit.

Two years ago over at Universal, The Incredible Hulk coaster was closed for several days after a woman died on it. It was the same deal, pre-existing condition (of which she was not aware) caused the death, there was nothing inherantly dangerous about the ride. We won't know autopsy results for several weeks from the poor child who died yesterday, but I would bet money that it comes back as a pre-existing condition.

Disneyland, on the other hand, was patently unsafe for visitors for several years. This was a direct result of the Paul Pressler / Cynthia Harriss era where maintenance and safety procedures were neglected to a huge degree. The Big Thunder Mountain Rail Road (BTMRR) accident in 2003 and the Columbia accident in 1998 were both directly due to a combination poor maintenance, and poor training. Cynthia Harriss carries the blood on her hands for both of those, and they are the only two times in Disney history (that I am aware of) where a park guest was killed because of the direct negligence of Disney. Fortunately, shortly after the BTMRR accident Cynthia Harriss was replaced by Matt Ouimet, who has by all accounts done an amazing job turning the park around.
posted by Lokheed at 5:49 AM on June 30, 2006 [2 favorites]


Thats it? I would've though the toll would be higher.

Those are only the guests who have died as a direct result of the attractions. The list obviously does not include natural deaths and suicides, completely unrelated to rides.
posted by Lokheed at 5:54 AM on June 30, 2006


Interesting that none other than Robert Fisk has written an article about Theme Park Death
(actually that isn't the webpage I was looking for, but it seems germane to this discussion)
posted by Flashman at 5:54 AM on June 30, 2006


For much, much, much more, visit: RideAccidents.com
posted by Otis at 6:11 AM on June 30, 2006


Odd how people wouldn't find it interesting if someone published a list of people who died on an equivalently-sized (in total land area) stretch of I-95 in the same time period.

Of course, it'd take much longer to read, so folks would get bored.
posted by dmd at 6:14 AM on June 30, 2006


If I were running a rival themepark, I'd give away free passes to DisneyWorld to people suffering from heart problems.

Just sayin' is all.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 6:16 AM on June 30, 2006


Happiest place on earth?
posted by lemonfridge at 6:25 AM on June 30, 2006


Meanwhile, Disney continues to withhold the names of all the children who mysteriously disappeared from DisneyWorld since 1989. It's amazing how a big pile of money can make officials and even parents 'forget' about a missing child. Sure, sure, they all sit you down on the couch and explain to you that you never had a brother, but if that's the case, why did I have a bunkbed, Mom? And who was the "Jeff" that signed all those birthday cards to me in a sloppy seven-year old crayon scrawl? Even then, I wondered how we were suddenly able to afford to move out of the old apartment on Grant street to that big house on Willow. Daddy lost his job, didn't he? So where did the money for the new house, new car, and all that liquor that Daddy started to drink once we moved in come from?

Recently, as part of the recovery program proscribed to me by my therapist, I went back to DisneyWorld with my own family. It was stressful to say the least! There always seemed to be Disney employees hovering around my kids. I could have sworn I saw Pluto size up my son Jeffery's head with his big, raggedy paw, his dead costumed eyes staring at me the entire time.

I corralled my family to Space Mountain, staying ever vigilant because you never know who in line could be a Disney plant. suddenly, by daughter Susan shouted, "Look! That man looks like Grampa in those old pictures!" I spun around and saw a man, half dressed in a Goofy costume walking towards us, tears in his eyes.

"Jeff?" I don't know if I yelled or whispered it, but he nodded and reached out his three fingered gloved hands to embrace me. Before we could touch there were Disney employees all around us, shouting and gesturing. The line had reached the 'No Wait From Beyond This Point' marker and we were whisked away, away from my memories, away from my brother.

As the rollercoaster started its first darkened loop, I heard and anguished cry from below us. It was a wail of pure sorrow, cut off quickly by the sharp retort of a small caliber pistol.

What did they do to you, Jeff? Why, Mom?

Why?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:25 AM on June 30, 2006 [70 favorites]


This means that if you go to Disney World you have a 00.0000076% chance of getting killed.

So if I move to disney world, I should live to be approximately 100,000 years old. Strange, I would expect to see more seniors at DW trying this.
posted by Crash at 6:30 AM on June 30, 2006


Lokheed writes "It was the same deal, pre-existing condition (of which she was not aware) caused the death, there was nothing inherantly dangerous about the ride."


Evidently people not aware of their conditions are endangered by simply taking some particular ride : as you noticed these people were not aware of their condition, otherwise only a few fools would have risked their life. So unless one is 100% confident and sure there is no reason for him to NOT take the ride, it is safer for that person not to take some ride, because it solicits death in some people ; which is not the same as killing one person, but the result is the same.

People should know some ride is know to accelerate death in some people
posted by elpapacito at 6:32 AM on June 30, 2006


Crash, you're a genius. That's exactly why there are so many old people down in southeast Florida! They were meaning to go to Disney World, but missed the exit, and right-blinkered their way all the way down the turnpike.
posted by dmd at 6:34 AM on June 30, 2006


So how come Cory Doctorow isn't dead?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 6:53 AM on June 30, 2006


What about Haliburton Oil?
posted by jeffburdges at 7:02 AM on June 30, 2006


People should know some ride is know to accelerate death in some people

Have you stood in the lines for Mission: Space, or any of these coasters? You would have to be legally blind to miss the warning signs. And even if you *are* legally blind, you would have to be deaf to not hear the warnings in the pre-show video.

In the case of the Rock 'n Roller Coaster, as I recall there are four versions of that exact coaster throughout the world (different theming, different name, same track design), running for the better part of a decade, and yesterday's tragedy was the first death resulting from a ride on *any* of them. It's very sad, and my heart goes out to the family for their loss, but there is nothing that Disney could have reasonably done to prevent the death.
posted by Lokheed at 7:15 AM on June 30, 2006


Lokheed, just curious -- is this a professional interest of yours, or are you just interested in park rides? You seem to be well-versed on Disney park management, and park management in general. (Feel free to respond obliquely -- or not at all -- if it is professional.)
posted by lodurr at 7:22 AM on June 30, 2006


A couple of years back we went to Epcot - I wanted to try their Mission:Space ride. I've got slight hypertension, controlled by diuretics ("Aw, piss" I said when the doctor told me I needed them - he grinned and said "That's right!") but figured it would be safe enough to ride the thing.

My family chickened out after we got the fastpasses, though. So I stood through the line once and used three faspasses to go on it four times in a row.

No disorentation, no collapse, no motion sickness, nada. Enjoyed the ride tremendously.

That said - Lokheed's got it right. They warn you up to the time you get in the capsule. If you try to say you didn't see or hear the warnings, then you're blind and deaf, or covering your eyes and going "Lalalalala, I can't HEAR you!"

However, perhaps they could include a cursory medical screen in the pre-ride. A 20-second automated blood-pressure/heart sounds check, with a referral to a med-tech if somethings' out of tolerances. It wouldn't have to be anything more fancy than what you'd find at a grocery store pharmacy...
posted by JB71 at 7:29 AM on June 30, 2006


In the case of the Rock 'n Roller Coaster, as I recall there are four versions of that exact coaster throughout the world (different theming, different name, same track design), running for the better part of a decade, and yesterday's tragedy was the first death resulting from a ride on *any* of them. It's very sad, and my heart goes out to the family for their loss, but there is nothing that Disney could have reasonably done to prevent the death.

Sure, they couldn't have prevented that death, but of all the coasters at WDW, Rock 'n Roller is the only one to ever give me muscle damage that has, so far, lasted 6 years.

You see, the coaster runs indoors, in pitch dark, whipping you around sharp turns and through some partial loops. The shoulder restraint doesn't (in my opinion) fit snug enough up against your body, so your shoulders and neck are free to be yanked around.

Sure enough, I pulled a muscle leading from the bottom of my skull to the tip of my right shoulder. I've had my doctor look at it, and there's nothing he can do. I've had professional massages, and I occasionally take a Doan's to deal with the pain, but it's probably going to be a chronic injury for the rest of my life, I imagine.

Certainly, my injury is nothing like the loss of life of a child, but it's indicative of the degree of caution one needs to take with that particular ride.
posted by thanotopsis at 7:32 AM on June 30, 2006


But I bet even so, everyone's like, oh, it's DisneyWorld, the safestest and happiest place on earth, so maybe it'll be a little scary but it can't really hurt you...
posted by Flashman at 7:34 AM on June 30, 2006


robocop is bleeding, you just broke my heart


What I found interesting is that, assuming this list is accurate, 11/15 of the deaths are from 2000 on, and 6/15 are in the last 2 years. I wonder why?
posted by papakwanz at 7:36 AM on June 30, 2006


'What I found interesting is that, assuming this list is accurate, 11/15 of the deaths are from 2000 on, and 6/15 are in the last 2 years. I wonder why?'

Since Bush got re-elected they figured it's just not worth living?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:42 AM on June 30, 2006


A good friend of mine used to work for DisneyWorld's Guest Relations back in the late 90's/early 00's, and reported that "No one dies at DisneyWorld" was an oft-cited phrase in staff meetings. And while this wasn't literally true, the staff was trained to help remove injured or sick people off the premises at the first suggestion of a problem. In most cases, the system was so well structured that other guests never knew someone had collapsed, never saw the ambulance( they use tunnels and service roads), and never knew anything had gone wrong. Reality is not supposed to play any part in a Magic Kingdom vacation.

On a lighter note, it was always amazing to my friend how many potential lawsuits the Disneyworld Resorts avoided through hotel room upgrades, park passes, and all you can eat turkey legs.
posted by thivaia at 7:46 AM on June 30, 2006


Lokheed, just curious -- is this a professional interest of yours, or are you just interested in park rides? You seem to be well-versed on Disney park management, and park management in general. (Feel free to respond obliquely -- or not at all -- if it is professional.)

It's kind of a long story. I have an autistic son, and his first visit to Walt Disney World was like finally finding a key to unlock the door to his mind. After a similar reaction upon a second visit, we moved here to Orlando to be close to the park in order to use it like a giant therapy session. Because of the huge positive impact that WDW has had on my family, and because of how much time I wind up spending there, I've just kind of wound up with tons of generally useless knowledge.
posted by Lokheed at 7:57 AM on June 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


Considering at least 16 million people visit Disney World each year

So that means the average visitor count per day is something like 44,000. Shouldn't the death/accident rate then be more appropriately compared to that of a community of 44,000 rather than 16 million? Factor in the length of stay for the average patron (i.e. you don't have 44K in the park for 24 hours a day) and the population skews even lower, no?

I'm ready for my statistical butt-kicking, Mr. DeMille.
posted by hangashore at 8:08 AM on June 30, 2006


On a lighter note, it was always amazing to my friend how many potential lawsuits the Disneyworld Resorts avoided through hotel room upgrades, park passes, and all you can eat turkey legs.

That's always the first rule of customer service, even if it's forgotten promptly by 99.9% of corporations and front-line minimum-wage employees in all sorts of industries. (Having been one, I don't blame them, it's just how it is.) Just give them what they want. It won't make you broke, and it makes people happy. Happy people spend money.
posted by blacklite at 8:23 AM on June 30, 2006


I have an autistic son, and his first visit to Walt Disney World was like finally finding a key to unlock the door to his mind

Lokheed, that is the best thing I have read all week. Wishing you and your family the best.
posted by drinkcoffee at 8:35 AM on June 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


... tons of generally useless knowledge.

I like to think very little knowledge is completely useless.

Interesting reaction from your son. I would have kind of expected the opposite, but then, I mostly know about autism from books. Did it surprise his doctors?

W.r.t. all the looseness with stats, bangashore et al even as they proceed to demonstrate that the odds aren't that low, are still throwing out numbers that make for pretty impressively low odds of death. Probably the really fair thing to do that takes less work (and is thus less fun) would be to compare them to the parks industry as a whole. I would expect them to do much better; I'm not crazy about Disney, but I'll happily admit that they are very good at solving problems that can be resolved through hard work and dedication.
posted by lodurr at 9:22 AM on June 30, 2006


I _love_ Rob Conger's latch hook rugs of places in Disneyland/World that are death scenes. The exhibit had a guide that explained what the deaths were.

And as for the warnings on rides, when coworkers and I went to Mission:Space, we saw the warnings, we heard them but we didn't exactly hear it because of the totally bored and out-of-it-teens that were working the ride, and also because up until that point the fastest ride we had been on was a slow ride in the golf ball. Not to mention all of little kids that were waiting to go on the ride as well. My coworker got really sick after the ride and she had to leave the park shortly afterwards because she felt so bad. I didn't enjoy it much, either. Who knew?
posted by armacy at 10:04 AM on June 30, 2006


I think you have officially closed this thread, Lokheed. Doesn't matter what anyone else says about this topic now. You hit the nail on the head. Mega positive energies to you and yours.

...

Of course I'm gonna continue to write beyond when I shoulda shut up, mostly cuz I'm an idiot.

We can count the dead all we want. How many on this planet have felt alive attending Disney World? Isn't that after all the point of going to a place like that? To have your eyes opened and your heart filled with joy?

If I could choose how and when I die, it'd be in the arms of a beautiful woman. Failing that, I'd probably want to die in an amusement park surrounded by laughter and generally positive vibes. I could think of far worse ways to go.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:07 AM on June 30, 2006


Sucks to be that kid.

Probably sucked to be the first monkey to walk erect - only to be brought down moments later in the midst of the triumphant chest beating by a sabertooth tiger.
posted by evilelvis at 10:18 AM on June 30, 2006


And how many have been driven insane by "It's A Small World After All?"
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:36 AM on June 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


I much prefer John Marr's Waiting In Line To Die: Death at Disneyland from Murder Can Be Fun #13.
posted by fandango_matt at 10:49 AM on June 30, 2006


Breaking news on CNN 1:51 Eastern time, says preliminary autopsy results found no injuries, but indicated congenital heart abnormalities in the 12 year old boy.
posted by tadellin at 10:51 AM on June 30, 2006


The specs on that coaster show it to have a fairly high G-force rating (4-5 G's....most coasters only do 2-3). Although it's an "extreme" ride, a majority of comments I read on it is that it's a smoother and less painful ride than many other "extreme" coasters. I guess the autopsy will tell what happened, but my guess is it's related to high G's.
posted by samsara at 10:58 AM on June 30, 2006


Sorry for the derail, but on the other hand I don't want to ignore people who ask me a question....

Interesting reaction from your son. I would have kind of expected the opposite, but then, I mostly know about autism from books. Did it surprise his doctors?

The whole reason we took him in the first place was that he had always been fascinated by Disney videos. We figured it was a crap shoot, either he would be overstimulated by the invironment and be miserable or he would recognize things from his videos and be happy. Fortunately it was the latter. The moment we stepped into the Magic Kingdom he recognized exactly where he was, and had a huge smile. For the four days we were there he was more present and focused for a longer period of time than he had ever been in his life. We took pictures of the ride entrances and made a photo album, and he was able to tell us where he wanted to go by showing us the picture. By the last day he was actually naming the rides, which was amazing because he was at that time essentially non-verbal. His favorite ride is Snow White's Scary Adventures (SWSA), I think both because it was the very first ride he went on and because it is the one ride that entirely uses audio directly from the movie so he gets three minutes of all his favorite sound bites exactly the way he knows them from the movie. It's basically Benjamin crack. You can see a picture here of his 1,000th ride on SWSA, for which he actually got to ride with Snow White herself. He was beside himself with joy.

The doctors were pleased, and had heard of other families with similar experiences. To be clear, though, this experience has not been a magic bullet. Ben is twelve years old now, and sill has very serious communication issues. He has no friends, still has a very limited vocabulary, and left to his own devices he would spend all day every day just sitting and watching video clips over and over again. That being said, using the park as a giant carrot to dangle in front of him has helped, as has the hard work of his doctors and teachers. It's a long road, but he has made an amazing amount of progress in the three years since we moved here and I am optimistic that he will continue to improve and someday be able to be self-supporting. All of the kind thoughts and wishes expressed here are greatly appreciated.
posted by Lokheed at 11:49 AM on June 30, 2006 [14 favorites]


"Derails" like this are hardly something that needs to be apologized for.
posted by lodurr at 12:49 PM on June 30, 2006


Lokheed: I just wanted to say that's well and truly fantastic.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 12:49 PM on June 30, 2006


And how many have been driven insane by "It's A Small World After All?"

"Duff Beer for you, Duff Beer for me..."

"I am the Lizard Queen!"
posted by lodurr at 12:51 PM on June 30, 2006


You could even limit it to asking, what happened in 2005?

Talking about small world reminds me of this:
If you're in trouble he will save the day
He's brave and he's fearless come what may
Without him the mission would go astray
He's Arnold, Arnold, Arnold Rimmer</blockquote
posted by Chuckles at 1:10 PM on June 30, 2006


I count six incidents where it doesn't look like just the chance circumstance of a preexisting condition catching up with them at that particular time. Of those at least one (woman climbs out of boat ride, is hit by other boat) was certainly the patron's fault and a few of the others probably were to some degree. It may be theoretically possible to build a theme park where accidents are impossible, but I doubt anyone would much enjoy going there.

That story and picture are awesome, Lokheed. Say, is Snow White flashing the "Hang Loose" sign? At first I thought she was rocking the metal "horns" but then I recounted the fingers...
posted by nanojath at 1:26 PM on June 30, 2006


Lokheed's story is perhaps the best derail of a MeFi thread in recent memory.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:43 PM on June 30, 2006


is Snow White flashing the "Hang Loose" sign? At first I thought she was rocking the metal "horns" but then I recounted the fingers..

No, silly. She's doing the patented "Princess wave" which involves bending the middle fingers of your hand down to your palm and back. Gosh!

Lokheed, that story was amazing, thanks for sharing it with us.
posted by SassHat at 2:52 PM on June 30, 2006


Somewhat related to Lockheed's story and to Disney, a writer for Entertainment Weekly brings his autistic daughter to see Cars. Not the same ending by any means, but just interesting to read about both events in the same day.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:18 PM on June 30, 2006


Only three people have died reading Metafilter.
posted by ed at 7:31 PM on June 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


"Sharks! They've got the taste for human blood! 10 billion people went into the ocean last year. 10 were viciously mauled to death by killer sharks. Run for your lives!"

I just saw on animal planet yesterday: on average sharks get 28 people a year, and we kill over 100 million sharks. They should be the ones bitching.
posted by ackeber at 7:48 PM on June 30, 2006


Didn't the kid riding Mission: Space and this kid on Rockin' Roller Coaster both allegedly have congenital heart defects? Going to Disney World is Darwinism - the new way to screen out kids with heart defects. If your kid survives roller coasters and thrill rides at Disney, he/she doesn't have a heart defect.
posted by IndigoRain at 2:17 AM on July 1, 2006


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