Walt Disney World serves as a magical escape from our regular lives. However, for some, the magical escape quickly came to an end due to fatal incidents. Listed below are the nine times guests have died on Walt Disney World Resort property:
Suicide at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
On the 22nd March, 2016, a man reportedly jumped to his death from Disney’s Contemporary’s inner A-frame tower. Witness reports stated Walt Disney World monorails temporarily shut down as officials quickly roped off a crime scene area. The area reopened later in the day to normal operations.
3-Year-Old Child Drowns in Disney’s Art of Animation Pool
A three-year-old child drowned in one of Disney’s Art of Animation resort pools on the 14th July, 2015. Reports suggested that the child got separated from his parents and, following a brief search, was found in the pool at around 8:00 pm.
Walt Disney World Speedway – Exotic Driving Experience Fatal Accident
On the 12th April, 2015, a fatal accident occurred at the Walt Disney World Speedway when a driver at the Exotic Driving Experience lost control and crashed. A Florida Highway Patrol investigation determined driving instructor Gary Terry, 36, died when driver Tavon Watson, 24, was driving a Lamborghini at 100mph in the wrong direction on the track.
Officials said Terry’s car “wouldn’t have been exposed to the end of the guardrails had the car been travelling in the direction for which the track was designed, which was counterclockwise.” Walt Disney World received $7,000 in fines from Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as a result of the accident.
Cast Member “Run Over” and Killed by Parade Float
On the 11th February, 2004, a Walt Disney World costumed Cast Member playing Pluto in the daily afternoon parade Share a Dream Come True was run over by one of the parade floats.
Javier Cruz, 38, had worked at Walt Disney World for eight years and was a father of two. Cruz was struck just before entering a public viewing area in Frontierland1, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The accident led OSHA to assess a $6,300 fine.
1: Frontierland in Disney’s Magic Kingdom.
Suicide at Epcot
On the 12th September, 1992, a man shot and killed himself at Epcot. Allen Ferris entered the park about 90 minutes after operating hours in search of his ex-girlfriend. Orange County deputy sheriffs reported Ferris demanded to see the woman and when security guards refused, he pulled out a sawed-off 12 gauge shotgun.
Ferris fired three shots and three guards fled. One guard escaped, but two stopped after Ferris shot at them again. Ferris took the guards hostage in the Journey into Imagination Pavilion for approximately ten minutes. He eventually released the hostage and walked out with the gun pointed at himself.
Moments later, he shot himself in the head. Ferris was pronounced dead at the Orlando Regional Medical Center.
4-Year-Old Child Drowns in Moat Surrounding Cinderella Castle at Disney’s Magic Kingdom
On the 11th August, 1977, a four-year-old boy from Dolton, Illinois drowned in the moat surrounding Cinderella Castle at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Joel Goode climbed over a fence around the five-foot deep moat, fell in and died. Goode’s mother sued Disney (“Magic Kingdom”) for negligence, claiming the fence around the moat was too short2.
2: No higher than 31 inches tall, according to the Plaintiff’s lawyer.
According to the Daytona Beach Morning Journal, the case was tossed out on the 8th October, 1981 when the presiding judge ruled the mother “failed in her duty to control the child of tender years.” In December 1982, the 5th District Court of Appeals ruled Goode’s mother could sue Disney and she filed a suit for $4 million dollars3.
3: Jurors awarded her a total of $1.5 million dollars after deciding she was 50 percent at fault for the incident, according to the Ocala Star-Banner.
Fatal Walt Disney World Monorail Crash
On the 5th July 2009, two trains on the same line of the Disney monorail crashed at approximately 2:00am. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the agency cited a “shop panel operator’s failure” to switch over a track from the Epcot line to the Magic Kingdom express line.
This resulted in the Monorail Pink train backing into Monorail Purple at the Ticket and Transportation Center. Monorail Purple pilot Austin Wuennenberg, 21, died at the scene. The NSTB also cited “Walt Disney World’s lack of operating procedures leading to an unsafe practice when reversing trains on its monorail system” as one of probable causes of the accident.
OSHA proposed a $44,000 penalty against Walt Disney World for the incident, but ultimately OSHA reduced the penalty to $35,200 following an appeal by the company.
11-Year-Old Child Hit by Bus at Disney’s Wilderness Resort
On the 1st April, 2010, 11-year-old Chase Brubaker of St. Petersburg, Florida died after being hit by a bus at Disney’s Wilderness Resort. The Florida Highway Patrol reported two children were riding bicycles on the sidewalk along a roadway when Brubaker biked off the sidewalk, “struck the site of the bus and then was subsequently pulled underneath the bus and run over by the bus.”
The 11-year-old girl riding with the victim and 28 passengers on the bus were not hurt in the accident. Officials said that there was no evidence the bus driver, David Russel Rich, 56, was impaired or driving recklessly. At the time, Rich was a 30-year Disney employee.
RELATED DEATH: Florida Disney alligator saw boy as prey, report says (the one we couldn’t write about!)