Dishney: Top 5 Most Avoidable Disneyland Deaths

Alright, fine: So it's a little morbid, but since the park's grand opening in 1955, a few hiccups have happened during Disneyland's reign as the Happiest Place on Earth--nine of them, to be exact. Which, statistically speaking, isn't all that bad. We guess. 

All but one of the fatalities to take place within Disneyland property lines can be attributed to guest negligence--unbuckling this, standing up during that--the only accident that can be determined as insufficient ride maintenance happened on Christmas Eve in 1998, aboard the large sailing ship Columbia. A rope carrying a metal cleat came loose and sailed through the air where it sadly met Luan Phi Dawson and his wife. Dawson was brain dead for 11 hours following the accident before he was taken off life support. 

Scroll through this list we've pulled together of the top five most avoidable Disneyland deaths in the last 54 years--and remember to listen next time the pre-recorded message asks you to permanecer sentados por favor

A thoroughly intoxicated Philip Straughan, 18, of Alberquerque, New Mexico, drowned in the Rivers of America on June 4, 1983 after sneaking into an off limits Cast Member Only area and taking a joyride on one of the maintenance boats. Since Straughan couldn't exactly maneuver the small rubber vessel, he ended up hitting a rock and getting tossed into the water. His body was located an hour later.

Disneyland parking lot, circa 1960.
Disneyland parking lot, circa 1960.
Photo courtesy Orange County Archives

In June 1966, Thomas Cleveland, 19, of Northridge, climbed the 16-foot fence that surrounded Disneyland in an attempt to slink into one of their many Grad Night celebrations for high school students--only he winded up standing right on the tracks of the Monorail. What happened next? Yup: A train was coming right for him. A guard yelled for him to jump clear of the track but Cleveland didn't quite make it... his body was dragged 30-40 feet by the monorail.

The People Mover, 1978.
The People Mover, 1978.

Another Grad Night accident Ricky Lee Yama, 18, of Hawthorne, hopped onto the tracks of the now defunct People Mover in Tomorrowland in August 1967. Yama jumped from vehicle to vehicle, lost his footing and was run over by an oncoming car. Thirteen years later, Gerardo Gonzales, died the same way on June 7, 1980, exiting the ride and attempting to maneuver from car to car. Only this time, it's reported that no one noticed--and his body was supposedly dragged for hundreds of feet before a Cast Member noticed. Since then, Cast Members and guests have reported ghost sightings on the People Mover. Other rides at the park that are supposedly haunted include Space Mountain and, of course, the Haunted Mansion.

Another attraction responsible for taking its fair share of lives at Disneyland: The Rivers of America. The most tragic story involves 18-year-old Bogden Delaurot and his younger brother who had stowed away on Tom Sawyer Island past its closing time. Rather than risk getting in trouble and asking for assistance, the pair decided to swim for it instead--because the younger Delaurot could not swim, Bogden decided to carry him across on his back. Halfway across, Bogden went under water. The younger brother managed to dog paddle until help arrived. Bogden's body was found the next morning.

Mark Maples, 15, of Long Beach unbuckles his safety belt and stands up during his ride aboard the Matterhorn Bobsleds in May 1964. Choosing to do this exactly near the summit of the attraction, Maples lost his footing. He landed on the tracks below him and suffered a skull fracture and several other internal injuries. He passed away three days after the accident. In January 1984, Dolly Young, 48, of Fremont, died in a similar manner inside the Matterhorn, though it cannot be confirmed whether or not Young had purposefully unbuckled her seatbelt.  

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