Walt Disney World is often thought to be “the happiest place on Earth.” It’s a neat slogan the corporation are keen to drive home at whatever cost; one that has convinced families from across the globe to make the long journey to the Magic Kingdom… and beyond!
As a result of this branding, though, you really don’t expect a trip to an iconic Walt Disney theme park to turn into a fully-fledged nightmare that ends in certain death. The most you ever want to deal with is long queues and ridiculously priced hotdogs; losing your life is the last thing you’d ever imagine to occur at such an enchanting destination.
And yet, despite saving up their money and booking a trip to what is arguably the greatest resort on the planet, some very unlucky people have died at Disney parks over the years. Not all of said deaths were Disney’s fault, of course; if you have a heart condition and you ride a rollercoaster, you’re putting yourself at risk. But there are some tragedies in which the park itself was clearly to blame – especially where employee deaths are concerned.
Here’s 10 tragic deaths that happened at Walt Disney theme parks; places, apparently, where “dreams come true.” Not in these instances, they didn’t.
10. A Four-Year-Old Drowned In The Moat Surrounding Cinderella’s Castle (Walt Disney World)
It’s the last thing you’d ever expect to happen during a trip to the iconic Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, and yet an awful tragedy struck one family all the way back in 1977 when their four-year-old boy, Joel Goode, drowned in the moat surrounding Cinderella’s Castle at the iconic Magic Kingdom theme park after he climbed over a two-foot high fence. The water in the moat was five feet deep.
Joel’s parents, Henry and Marietta Goode, subsequently sued Disney and ultimately won their case against the mega corporation, but later on the court decided that said family were actually partly to blame for the incident as they allowed the boy to climb over a fence.
As a result, their initial settlement for $4 million was cut down to just $1.5 million. Still, all that money wasn’t enough to replace the son they lost in such a freak accident.
9. A Boy Died After Being Pinned Beneath A Car On Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin (Anaheim Disneyland)
Another tragic incident involving a young boy, this time at Anaheim Disneyland.
When a safety bar failed to lock into the correct position on Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin back in the year 2000, a four-year-old boy named Brandon Zucker fell out of his car and found himself trapped beneath another vehicle; his body was literally “folded in half.”
The incident left him both paralysed and severely brain damaged, and unfortunately he was never able to speak or walk again.
In the wake of the accident, the Walt Disney Company offered to pay for Zucker’s medical treatment and care, but – sadly – at the age of thirteen, he passed away having never fully recovered from his injuries. It is thought that the incident that left Brandon Zucker in such an awful condition brought theme park safety back into the limelight in subsequent years, as measures were increased to ensure nothing like it ever happened again.