Top 10 Saddest Theme Park Events


1. This list's items have to be about or specifically inside the theme park, no parking lot, hotel or transportation incidents.
2. This list can only contain permanent theme parks, no fairs.
3. Waterpark-only places cannot be on the list, but waterparks with other rides (e.g. Action Park) are allowed on this list.
The Top Ten
1 Kings Island's Black Sunday (1991)
2 Space Mountain cancer patient death at Walt Disney World (2006)
3 The Haunted Castle fire at Six Flags Great Adventure (1984)

Those eight victims' ages ranged from 15 to 19. A would-be ninth victim had almost made it to the exit before passing out. She was carried out the rest of the way by an actor who had already broken character to make his own way out.

At least nobody died in the Universal Studios and Lagoon fires. This one, on the other hand, had eight casualties.

Go to number 4 and you'll see why I'm so angry that this even happened in the first place.

4 Ghost Train fire at Luna Park Sydney (1979)

I don't know how on Earth no one has added this yet! Seven people died, and six of them were children, for crying out loud! Worse yet, everyone aboard the ride could have died because the fire was that out of control. One woman lost her entire family, and her life was only spared since she was craving ice cream.

5 America Sings death at Disneyland (1974)
6 El Toro derailment at Six Flags Great Adventure (2021)
7 Thunder River Rapids causes 4 deaths at Dreamworld (2016)

Those poor kids and paramedics. I can't imagine witnessing what they went through.

8 The slow, painful demise of Geauga Lake (2007)
9 Apollo's Chariot goose collision at Busch Gardens Williamsburg (1999)
10 The Smiler train collision (2015)
The Contenders
11 Universal Studios Hollywood backlot tour fire (2008)
12 Burning of Dreamland at Coney Island (1911)

Considering there was a premature baby sideshow there, though apparently, by all accounts, all the infants were evacuated and survived. Before anyone says anything, there was no such thing as an NICU at the time. Becoming carnival attractions were those babies' best chance at life.

Granted, not quite as sad as the Triangle Factory fire that happened just days earlier in the same city, but sad and scary all the same.

13 Six Flags New Orleans destroyed by Hurricane Katrina (2005)
14 Mindbender derailment at Galaxyland (1986)
15 Lane Graves brutally killed by a alligator on the Grand Floridian Resort Grounds (2016)

And now Disneyland's put up a statue of Louis the Gator (to go with Tiana's Brionna Taylor Memorial, of course). Hope the surviving Graves family sues for emotional trauma!

Disney must have realized this before they actually started destroying Splash Mountain. They decided not to make it about finding Louis's lost trumpet in time for Mardi Gras in favor of riding through the Avery Salt Mine to get some salt for Tiana's Palace.

And Disney "cancelled" all alligators and crocodiles, including references to them, for about a year. Now they are retheming Splash Mountain to some nonsense centered around the gator from "The Princess and the Frog."

16 Monorail crash in Disney World (2009)
17 Disney officially confirms Splash Mountain will become Tiana's Bayou Adventure (2022)

They announced an official opening date for "Tiana Sends You Into the Avery Island Salt Dome Because BLM" (summer 2024) and are showing off the creepy robo-Tiana.

Even sadder: seeing it surrounded by construction walls advertising Avery Salt Mine, where many slaves died. Disney just slapped up "Tiana Foods" signs over the offending logo but didn't announce that they had seen the error of their ways and decided to go with a different theme. Ideally, they would have decided to keep Splash Mountain, but that would have been asking too much.

18 The Voyage unconscious rider incident at Holiday World (2021)
19 The "euthanization" of Topsy the elephant at Luna Park, Coney Island (1903)

Well, I have to say, amusement parks had some... interesting things before the invention of drop towers, steel coasters, and 200+ foot coasters. Gotta fill that void somehow.

20 Carousel Candy shop and kiddie bumper car ride Scamper destroyed by fire at Lagoon Amusement Park (2021)
21 DisneyQuest closed and replaced by NBA Experience (2017)

The NBA Experience itself only lasted a few years. Currently, there's just a big empty building there.

22 12 year old falls off Log Chute at Nickelodeon Universe (1998)
23 California's Great America announced closure (2022)
24 14 year old dies on FreeFall (2022)
25 Animals die at Animal Kingdom (1998)

At least they didn't burn to death like the animals at Dreamland.

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