Disney Park Named One of the Most Dangerous Theme Parks in U. S.

theme parks in the united states most dangerous

Every Disney fan has a favorite Disney Park. I have a favorite Disney Park. You have a favorite Disney Park. All God’s children who double as Disney fans have a favorite park, and there are many from which to choose. Disney’s domestic parks include the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and its four theme parks: Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, to Disneyland Resort on the West Coast and its parks: Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure. Around the globe, Disney offers Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disney Resort, Shanghai Disney Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Aulani Resort.

But even though Disney’s theme parks have a fanbase that’s second to none, they aren’t necessarily among the safest theme parks to visit. In fact, one Disney Park was just named one of the most dangerous parks to visit in the United States.

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cinderella castle magic kingdom

Credit: Becky Burkett

Theme parks were created to be fun escapes for families and individuals. When Walt Disney initially had the idea for a theme park in Southern California, his intent was to create a place where families–young people and their parents–could enjoy an outing together. Saturdays were “Daddy’s Day” for Walt Disney and his two young daughters, Diane and Sharon. Each week, Walt would choose something for the girls to enjoy. But as he sat on a park bench one Saturday while his daughters rode the merry-go-round, the glaring need for such a theme park experience was undeniable. Disneyland was born that day within the brilliant mind of Walt Disney.

But theme parks are not without dangers to both workers and visitors, and very real risks exist for guests of any theme or amusement park, and injuries and accidents can range from very minor to severe. In November 2022, a male guest at Universal Studios Florida reported “chest palpitations” while riding one of the resort’s Harry Potter-themed attractions. But one of the most recent tragedies at any theme park in the U. S. occurred on March 28, 2022, when 14-year-old Tyre Sampson fell to his death at ICON Park in Orlando while aboard a drop tower attraction when his safety restraint failed.

the wheel at icon park

Credit: FOX 35 Orlando

The Family Vacation Guide recently published its list of the most dangerous theme parks in the country. The rankings are based on accidents reported at the parks since 1980. ranked the most dangerous theme parks across the country based on reported accidents since 1980. It’s important to keep in mind that only accidents that were reported were considered, and other minor accidents that were not reported were not considered in the compilation of the list.

Over the last four decades, Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, California, takes the spot as the most dangerous theme park in the United States. The park welcomes approximately four million visitors annually, but since 1980, there have been 49 total reported incidents. When it comes to accidents, the park is known for an incident in 2009 during which a coaster cable snapped and injured a 12-year-old boy.

Guide to Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park

Knott’s Berry Farm Buena Park/Credit: Visit California

Recently, Knott’s Berry Farm has seen an increase in in-park fighting, prompting management to implement early closures and policies requiring visitors of certain ages to have chaperones with them.

Third on the list, however, is Disneyland in California. Since 1980, Disney’s first park has had 33 reported accidents. Sadly, Disneyland has been the location of several odd accidents involving Cast Members and Guests, including the death of a 22-year-old man at the park’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad attraction in 2003.

Look Closer: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland Park | Disney Parks Blog

Credit: Disney Parks

According to the Los Angeles Times, the ride vehicle crashed after two bolts from the locomotive’s left guide wheel assembly came loose and fell off the vehicle, causing a chain reaction of events. In December 2022, a 51-year-old elementary school principal took his life by leaping from a seven-story parking structure at Disneyland. In February, a 46-year-old woman took her life by doing the same thing, evoking questions about Disney’s responsibility in helping to prevent such tragedies.

mickey and friends parking structure at disneyland

Mickey & Friends Parking Structure at Disneyland

Other theme parks that ranked high on the list include Six Flags America, Kings Island, and Cedar Point.

The safest theme parks in the U. S., according to The Family Vacation Guide, are Six Flags Marine World, Busch Gardens Tampa, Six Flags Great Escape, Six Flags Astroworld, Six Flags Elitch Gardens, Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, Six Flags New Orleans, Six Flags Ohio, Six Flags Over Mid-America, Worlds of Fun and several more parks only have one reported accident since 1980.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!