Fatal accidents at Disney World happen more often than you might like to think. Here are the top 10 strangest fatal accidents employees have faced on the job…
Each and every one of us has a strange fascination with fatalities. We gorge ourselves on true crime and tragic news stories. What we don’t expect, however, is for the “happiest place in the world” to have some nightmare employee accidents.
For these unlucky Disney World employees who tragically died on-site, compensation for a fatal accident or injury was sometimes achieved. The question is, out of the many workplace deaths that have occurred there over the decades, what are some of the strangest?
In this article, we’ll be taking you through 10 of the weirdest and most newsworthy Disney World accidents out there. Take a look…
1. HEAD INJURIES ON PRIMEVAL WHIRL
Primeval Whirl was a steel, spinning roller coaster at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. On two separate occasions, the ride was responsible for killing an employee due to sustained head injuries.
Firstly, on 27th November 2007, a 63-year-old employee suffered a brain injury after she fell from a restricted area of the platform. Because of this, she was then hit by a vehicle from the ride and died in hospital four days later.
This spurred an investigation, which saw Walt Disney World being fined for five safety violations, including:
- $15,000 for three serious violations.
- $7,500 for missing a handrail after being reported.
- $3,000 for not responding to OSHA requests within the time period.
On another occasion – 13th March 2011 – a 52-year-old employee sustained head injuries while working on the ride. The ride was closed for maintenance, so was not open to the public at the time. He was airlifted to Orlando Regional Medical Centre, but died in hospital.
2. INDIANA JONES TUMBLING ROLL
During the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, multiple accidents and injuries occurred, finally leading to a tragic death. The non-fatal injuries included:
- A performer falling 25 feet after a prop ladder collapsed
- Another performer falling 30 feet after a restraining cable failed
- Another becoming pinned under a trap door after it malfunctioned
- Later, another performer fell 25 feet onto concrete
The OSHA cited Disney due to the lack of adequate fall protection, which should have included padding etc.
It didn’t end there though, as an unexpected death occurred when a 30-year-old male performer died after executing a tumbling roll. He sustained a head injury, causing his death, and the next day’s performances were canceled out of respect.
3. PLANE CRASH
On 1st August 1987, a 27-year-old employee was flying an ultralight plane during a show rehearsal for Epcot’s “Skyleidoscope” when it crashed. The flyer was at an altitude of 500-1000 feet when there was a serious structural failure. It caused the plane to nosedive into the ground.
4. PLUTO AND THE BEAST
On 11th February 2004, a 38-year-old employee dressed as Pluto was run over by the Beauty and the Beast float during a Magic Kingdom parade. After working at the park for eight years, this catastrophe led to his untimely demise.
Before this, Disney representatives declared no other incident of this kind had ever occurred, but that no guests had witnessed the incident. Even so, the OSHA fined Disney $6,300 for having employees in restricted areas.
5. CAPTAIN JACK SPARROW FALLS
On 6th August 2009, a 47-year-old employee slipped in a puddle on stage whilst playing the role of Captain Jack Sparrow. He hit his head on a wall and was taken to Florida Hospital. He sustained severe injuries, including head lacerations requiring 55 stitches, and a broken vertebra in his neck. Tragically, he died four days later from complications.
6. FANTASYLAND SKYWAY SUED
On 14th February 1999, a 65-year-old part-time custodian was cleaning the Fantasyland Skyway Station platform. The ride was then accidentally turned on by another staff member who didn’t know he was there.
Being in the path of one of the ride vehicles, he grabbed onto the passing seat to save himself. Unfortunately, he was killed after losing his grip and falling 40 feet from the seat.
The ride was scheduled to be closed anyway, and was permanently closed on 10th November 1999. Again, Walt Disney World incurred a $4,500 fine from OSHA for violating federal safety codes in the work area.
7. A FALL TO THE DEATH
On 12th November 1992, an off duty cast member was sitting on a ledge on the Top of The World restaurant when a swarm of wasps appeared. Swatting them away, they lost their balance and fell 11 stories below to their death.
8. CART CALAMITY
On 9th July 2018, a 33-year-old cast member was involved in an industrial accident on the Pop Century and Caribbean Beach resorts. The employee was killed when a utility cart crushed him, and he fell unconscious. Nobody was able to lift the cart off him, and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
9. SCAFFOLDING AT THE CREEK
On 29th August 2018, two JW Marriott Bonnet Creek hotel site workers fell to their death when the building scaffolding collapsed. A third worker sustained a few minor injuries, while another escaped unharmed.
10. RACING DISASTER
On 12th April 2015, a 36-year-old driving instructor was killed when the person he was instructing lost control at the wheel during an Exotic Driving Experience. The Lamborghini then crashed into a metal guardrail, which caused his death and the driver’s hospitalization from minor injuries.
Florida Highway Patrol investigated the matter. While the decision to drive vehicles clockwise instead of the anti-clockwise way it was designed may have been an issue, no one was to blame. In the end, the driver faced no charges, as it all occurred on private property.
EVEN MORE FATAL ACCIDENTS AT DISNEY WORLD….
These are just 10 of the hundreds of fatal accidents that have occurred at the Disney World Resorts in Florida. From many more employee tragedies, like those above, to heart attacks and injuries suffered by resort guests, the list goes on.
These accidents really are awful, and although it’s certainly interesting to read about them, do bear in mind that these were real people who lost their lives. Unfortunately, workplace accidents happen every day, so take these as a cautionary tale to always follow procedures to the letter.