Due to Disney’s greedy nature, every time a visitor enters through the gates of the happiest place on earth, otherwise known as Disneyland, they run the risk of death before ever getting a chance to reach the exit. The number of people who have left the Kingdom of Magic in a body bag is much higher than Disneyland would ever be willing to admit. The precautionary steps the park takes to keep guests safe is so questionable that people should know each time they visit Disneyland, they are leaving their existence at the mercy of a theme park that only views them as a dollar sign and nothing more.
Disney uses a guideline called the Operation Hourly Ride Capacity (OHRC) to help determine how many park visitors should be riding the various attractions in every given hour. In the past, Disneyland would close the park down once its occupancy hit 50,000. That number was the maximum amount of people Disney felt the park could hold, while still maintaining a high level of visitor safety.
Unfortunately for Disney, the more people who were being turned away at Disneyland’s gates, the less money Disney was bringing home. Due to greed overruling logic, Disneyland employees began rushing to meet quota, which only resulted in an increased number of deaths. The OHRC guideline, which was invented to combat excruciatingly long wait lines by generating a system that got bodies, numbers and dollars in and out of the park safely, was disregarded entirely.
Before becoming Magic Kingdom’s Duty Manager, a job which entailed being privy to everything happening on Disneyland grounds, Spencer Craig worked the park grounds for over a decade. Craig revealed that Disney continues to operate rides they know to be hazardous to passenger safety, but because there is no money being made when a ride is shut down for repairs, rides remain open, greatly enhancing the risk for incident. The lengths that Disney has gone to ensure its safety records are kept secret are unimaginable. They are consistently over industry standards regarding allowable injury incidents, but have enough money to make any problem disappear.
In order for money to be saved, Disneyland greatly reduced the number of employees working attraction sites ensuring passengers are loaded and unloaded safely from the ride. The accidents and deaths that have occurred on Disney property have resulted in countless Occupational Safety and Health Administration violations, but for Disney the fines amount to pocket change.
After Disneyland’s grand opening during the summer of 1955, it maintained a flawless record of safety, but that flawless safety record has been racking up incident reports ever since May of 1964, the year Disneyland Park staked its claimed on its first victim. The incident involved a 15-year-old boy from Long Beach, Mark Maples, whose sudden urge to stand up inside the Matterhorn’s summit left him a few feet down on the ride’s track with a skull fracture and other bodily injuries. Four days later, the young boy died after never having regained consciousness following the accident.
The Matterhorn claimed its second victim in January of 1984, when Disneyland workers left the safety belt of 48-year-old Dollie Young, a woman whom had visited Disneyland on a spur of the moment outing with old friends,without being properly fastened. Although Disney’s Matterhorn employees promised to have thoroughly checked each passenger’s belt before giving the green light, it was clear by two-thirds of the way down the ride’s slope that Young’s belt was not fastened at all. She had fallen from her sled and onto the track, only to be met by a second sled speeding through her body. She was pronounced dead immediately after impact.
In 1999, when park guest Pat Shenck and her young son went jet skiing on one of the park lagoons, a rookie driving the Kingdom Queen ferryboat had put the ferry in reverse, sucking Shenck down into the boat blades, instantly killing her. Disney had divers collect the body and any other evidence in the water that could place blame on Disney before the call was made for law enforcement and ambulance to rush to the scene.
The number of deaths that have happened on Disney property from 1964 up until present day, all due to greed, is unbelievable. The innocent lives lost at the happiest place on Earth, along with the manner in which each victim’s death was handled should be enough to make anyone question if entering Disney’s gates is worth the cost. It does not take too much to see the façade behind all the glitz and glamour; it only takes one good look to realize the price going in could be higher than it already is.
Opinion By Kameron Hadley
csus: Disneyland Timeline
stim: Waiting in Line to Die: Death at Disneyland
anomalies-unlimited: Deaths at Disneyland
Photo Courtesy of Tom Bricker’s Flickr Page- Creative Commons License