Amusement park rides should induce fear. But tales of thrills and chills on roller coasters with safety bars are the only scary stories about amusement park rides anyone wants to experience. For the most part, despite a few dangerously designed rides, theme parks remain entirely safe, and everyone goes home without any problems - other than some motion sickness or soaked clothing. But sometimes, what happens on amusement park rides is far from amusing.
Theme park workers on Reddit, who've also discussed other horrifying things they've seen while on duty, regularly share their stories about scary things that happen on rides. Sometimes, people misbehaving can lead to problems. But in other cases, everything from weather to employee errors to mechanical problems can induce unintended ride turbulence and terror.
From Redditor /u/Commander_Shepard_:
At our park, we had a slide that was about 60 feet high. One pipe, and the most popular, went down at an 80-degree angle. It was completely open. You sat down, and slid down the 60 feet within two seconds. Quite a thrill really. Two guards manned the ride, one at the bottom and one at the top, to control the antics of the guests at all times.
Then, I see a kid take two steps backwards. I know what he is about to do. He must be stopped, I think. But, alas, what am I to do? I have no way to contact the lifeguard up top. There is no phone, no radio. I blow my whistle twice. The guards nearby look at me; the guard at the top turns around to find the source of my noise, to find me pointing at the kid.
The kid ran and jumped clean off of the slide. Now, up to this point in my life, I had been afraid of things. But nothing, in all of my life, had made me this scared until now. Seeing a young man fall to his impending doom and being powerless over it makes you feel terrible. Feeling, by some extension of logic, that you are indirectly responsible for this, makes it even worse. Never in my life have my stomach and jaw dropped so fast.
To his credit, he assumed the proper position of arms and legs being crossed. But now he was clean in the air, flying like a lead brick. As he did so, his body turned ever so slightly. It was something he noticed, and fruitlessly tried to correct for. Instead, he fell some distance before hitting inside the flume and chaotically tumbling down the ride. I called the paramedics immediately, and we had to backboard this kid out of the splashdown flume.
The kid messed up his neck pretty badly, broke his fibula I think. He was carted off in an ambulance and put in a brace the moment we got him out. They said he was fine, he walked again, much to my surprise.
From Redditor /u/JackOhBee:
I was the team leader for one of those raft water rides that sits 12 people on a giant inner tube. A child that was maybe 12 or 13 years old had a seizure while going down the final drop. Because he wasn't going to be able to get out of the vehicle, we pressed the emergency stop, which drained all of the water, and we removed everyone on the ride.
As I was waiting for the EMTs, I got a call on my radio to report to the top of the lift right away for another emergency. I run full speed through the ride and up the five stories worth of stairs to the top. The vehicle at the top had gone over the crest but for some reason did not drop into the water, so the boat was literally teetering on the lift. If it had fallen it would have been about a 10-foot drop on solid concrete.
I had to lead my team in evacuating the entire section of the park, with EMTs treating the kid with the seizure, and the fire department coming to help get these people off the ride safely, while rocking the strongest poker face I've had to keep ever.
From Redditor /u/okiewxchaser:
Operated rides for four years. Two moments stand out. The scariest moment I had was when lightning struck a utility pole below me (my position on the ride was about 50 feet up), knocking out power to my ride and forcing me and my supervisors to unload the ride in the middle of a lightning storm.
The second was a guy who was very upset that I wouldn't let his kid who was a foot under the height requirement ride. I told him no early in the day, but one of my coworkers let the kid ride while I was on break. The family comes up later and the father, who was noticeably drunk, jumps two gates and over the tracks to threaten me with a knife. I called security and he ran.
From Redditor /u/wockawocka88:
We had a riptide water ride where people could ride body boards like a big wave, and while I was talking to another guard I heard the whistle go off like there was an emergency. As I approached, a guard told me there was a nail in someone's foot. I thought he meant someone stubbed their toe and their nail pushed back into their toe, but it was an 8-year-old girl who had stepped on a 4-inch screw left over from the maintenance the ride had recently undergone. Right into the heel.
As I saw it I got a little lightheaded, but that was what I was trained to do. As I picked her up and pulled her out of the water, she moved her foot and it started to come out, but it was still in there a good 3 inches. I put a latex glove on it and told her it'd be okay as I called for paramedics. Her damn brothers came up and said that she was gonna ruin their time if they had to leave and I had to tell them to get away. When the paramedics came they picked her up to put her on the stretcher, and when they did, that latex glove slid off her foot and got hooked on the screw in the foot causing her, what I believed by her screams, excruciating pain.