Since it’s opening in 1955, the Disneyland Resort has had its fair share of mishaps, some of which have unfortunately left guests and cast members severely injured. In a number of cases, some of these incidents ultimately lead to the death of either a guest or a cast member, prompting a series of investigations into park safety. Though these incidents are few and far between, especially compared to other amusement parks in California, they serve as important reminders to be cautious and to always follow safety procedures, since unfortunately most of these deaths were ultimately preventable.
The following is a list of all of the deaths that have occurred at the Disneyland Resort since 1955. This list does not include guest injuries or minor incidents without serious injury. For more information about Disney’s safety procedures, training, and incident reports, visit the Safety and Security page here.
- May 1964: A 15-year-old guest fell from a bobsled on the Matterhorn after standing up mid-ride. Apparently, a companion unbuckled his seatbelt, enabling him to jump up as the bobsled accelerated. The guest died three days later from his injuries, marking the Disneyland Resort’s first death.
- January 1984: A 48-year-old guest died on the Matterhorn when she was struck by an oncoming bobsled after falling from her own ride vehicle. Reportedly, her seat belt was not buckled, so she was thrown when the bobsled made a sharp turn.
- June 1973: An 18-year-old guest drowned in the Rivers of America. The guest and his 10-year-old brother hid on Tom Sawyer Island past park closing, and planned to swim back to Frontierland to explore the park after hours. The guest’s brother did not know how to swim, and in an attempt to carry him to the other side, the guest drowned. A ride operator spotted the young child and rescued him, and the guest’s body was recovered in the water the next morning.
- June 1983: An 18-year-old guest drowned in the Rivers of America after sneaking into a restricted area during a Grad Nite. The guest and an accomplice stole a rubber emergency boat from a cast member area, and drowned as he attempted to pilot the boat across the water.
- December 1998: A 33-year-old guest died when a metal piece of the Sailing Ship Columbia’s hull fell onto the deck. This was the first death in the park not due to a guest’s negligence (it was due to a cheap nylon rope stretching and snapping) and as a result, Disney received heavy criticism for prioritizing financial savings over guest safety.
- September 2003: A 22-year-old guest died from blunt force trauma and internal bleeding after one of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad trains derailed. The front engine car became derailed and then fell onto the first passenger car as it ascended a hill, which killed the guest and injured 10 others. Later, an investigation determined that the train derailed due to poor maintenance, forcing Disney to reexamine its safety procedures and close the ride for a long refurbishment.
- September 2000: A 4-year-old guest fell from his car on Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin and was dragged across the track when he became trapped beneath the vehicle. He sustained severe internal injuries and brain damage, and never recovered, dying from his injuries eight years later.
- June 1966: A 19-year-old guest died after being struck by the Monorail. The guest attempted to sneak into the park by climbing over the track and into Tomorrowland, but the incoming Monorail dragged him 40 feet across the cement.
- August 1967: A 17-year-old guest died when he attempted to jump from one PeopleMover car to another as the ride entered a tunnel. The guest missed the second car, landing on the track. Due to the tunnel, he was unable avoid the next oncoming ride vehicle, which struck and dragged him several hundred feet.
- July 1974: An 18-year-old employee died when she was crushed between a revolving wall and a platform inside the America Sings show. The employee stepped between the wall and the platform during a ride intermission, which was most likely an accident given that the ride had only been open for two weeks. After her death, the ride closed for a brief refurbishment and reopened with breakaway walls to ensure the safety of its cast members.
- June 1980: An 18-year-old guest died as he tried to jump between two moving cars on the PeopleMover, in an incident virtually identical to the 1967 fatality.
- April 2003: A 36-year-old employee fell from the 60-foot high catwalk in the Hyperion Theater in Hollywood Land. An investigation found that Disney had several safety violations, which may have contributed to the stage technician’s death.
DISNEYLAND RESORT HOTELS & PARKING
- September 1994: A 74-year-old guest committed suicide from a 9th floor balcony of the hotel, in the first known suicide at the Disneyland Resort.
- July 1996: A 23-year-old man fell to his death from the 14th floor of the hotel. It is unknown whether his fall was intentional or accidental, but he was not a guest of the hotel at that time.
- May 2008: A 48-year-old guest committed suicide by jumping from his balcony on the 14th floor of the hotel.
MICKEY & FRIENDS PARKING STRUCTURE
- October 2010: A 61-year-old guest committed suicide by jumping from the top floor of the parking structure.
- April 2012: A 23-year-old guest was found at the base of the parking structure. His death is assumed to be a suicide, though there were no witnesses and he left no note.
- November 2016: A 40-year-old guest committed suicide, also by jumping from the parking structure. He died between 2 and 3 am, after park closing.