Disney parks are among the most joyful and pleasant places on earth, but that doesn't mean horrible things don't happen in them. There have been a great number of tragic incidents, fights, sexual assaults, and deaths at Disneyland and Disney World. You might also be interested in creepy legends about Disneyland and gruesome stories from Universal Studios. While it might be depressing to know that even places designed to be whimsical retreats can't escape grim reality, Disneyland deaths shouldn't come as a surprise. Any time you put a large number of people together with a large amount of machinery, things are bound to go wrong.
In the six decades Disney World and Disneyland have been open, plenty of incidents have occurred and a lot has gone wrong. Whether it was a freak accident in a stage show, a ride derailing, or a kid sneaking into park at night, the causes of these Disney deaths greatly vary. Guests and cast members have died in both accidents and of natural causes while on rides. There have been stabbings and even suicides. While nothing happens to the vast majority of the tens of thousands of people who visit a Disney park every day, freak occurrences do happen - leading to fines, lawsuits, and settlements.
Here are some of the most tragic Disney deaths in the United States parks, along with a few other bizarre incidents - some of which resulted in injury, and others in hilariously frivolous lawsuits. These incidents and deaths at Disney World and Disneyland serve as reminders that is, indeed, a small world after all - a small, scary, death-filled world.
Disneyland's First Death
In May 1964, Disneyland had its first fatality. 15-year-old Mark Maples was injured and died three days after he stood up in the Matterhorn Bobsleds and fell out of the car. It was later reported that his restraint had been undone by his ride companion.
Listen to more crazy stories about death and chaos here.
Paris Cast Member Dies in Phantom Manor
In April 2016, a cast member was electrocuted while performing maintenance on Phantom Manor, a "fun-filled mystery" with "ghoulish ghosts and spirits" that's part of Frontierland at Disneyland Paris. The attraction was closed while the death was investigated.
Hyperion Theater Death
On April 22, 2003, a stage technician fell 60 feet from a catwalk in the Hyperion Theater at Disney's California Adventure, prompting an investigation and fine by the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA).
The victim did not regain consciousness following the incident and died a month later.
The Measles Outbreak
In December 2014, a measles outbreak originated in Disneyland, resulting in 133 cases of the disease, including 40 in visitors to Disneyland between December 17 and 20. Most of these were unvaccinated children. The likely patient zero would have been an international traveler visiting the park from a country currently experiencing an outbreak.
In total, at least 127 cases of measles have been directly traced to the Disneyland outbreak.