Accidents happen, especially at America's theme parks, and Orange County's theme park triumvirate–Disneyland, California Adventure and Knott's Berry Farm–are no exceptions to the rule.
Recently, the state completed investigations into 27 medical problems sustained by passengers riding OC theme park rides. Parks must submit state reports when ride injuries require medical attention that goes beyond simple, onsite first aid treatment.
So what are Orange County's top five (or bottom five, depending on how you look at it) most dangerous theme park rides? Check out the list after the jump.
The following ride injury totals were reported over a thirty-month period, between January 2009 and June 2011.
5. Pony Express (Knott's Berry Farm), Pirates of the Caribbean, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Indiana Jones Adventure (Disneyland): Four-way tie! Each of these four rides chalked up 11 notable injuries over the last two and a half years. The least serious: a mosquito bite (huh?) on a passenger riding on Pirates. The most serious: Ten of the Pony Express' eleven injuries came in October 2010 when the ride's brakes failed during an unsuccessful launch, thus causing the train to roll backward onto the loading platform. For the Matterhorn, which debuted in Disneyland in 1959, 11 injuries is pretty damn good. . . even if the trains feel like they're gonna fly off the track at any given moment.
4. Xcelerator (Knott's Berry Farm): Knott's Berry Farm's hydraulically-launched, 205-foot tall loop coaster recorded 13 injuries since 2009. On September 16th, 2009, one of the ride's cables snapped shooting pieces of debris back toward riders. A 12-year-old boy received minor injuries on his leg, and a male rider complained of back pain. (I complain of back pain every single day; it doesn't mean the Xcelerator screwed up my spine.) Both riders were sent to the hospital for further evaluation and subsequently released later that day.
3. Space Mountain (Disneyland): For a ride that's pushing 35 years old, Space Mountain also has a pretty good track record, especially when you consider the fact that some of the ride's 14 injuries included nausea, dizziness and a chipped tooth. I'm always more concerned that my head is going to be ripped off by a low hanging piece of crossing track. Is it just me, or does everything feel extremely tight in there? True, tight can be a good thing. . . but not when you're riding on an indoor roller coaster.
2. Splash Mountain (Disneyland): I'm not sure if any of Splash Mountain's 15 injuries were incurred by the song that's played on loop (How do you do?), but that would definitely be my first guess. Most of Splash Mountain's injury reports border on the absolutely ludicrous, including an eyebrow laceration, a fainting spell, and an eyelid injury. An eyelid injury?!? Who reports an eyelid injury? What could possibly happen to you on Splash Mountain that would cause an eyelid injury? While floating by, did an audio-animatronic accidentally catch a hold of your eyelid and rip it off? Even then, if so, at least you'd be as cool as Marty Feldman.
1. GhostRider (Knott's Berry Farm): With nearly double the injuries of the list's number two, Splash Mountain, Knott's Berry Farm's wooden roller coaster GhostRider takes the injury cake with 29 documented incidents. Of those incidents, many of them were rib injuries suffered from the ride's high speeds and sharp turns. Unlike all previous rides listed above, the state actually stepped in and asked Knott's to remedy some of the ride's issues. Foam seating was replaced on some of the seats, the angles of some of the track's curves were altered, and the train's speed was slowed down.
California Adventure just missed the list with their looping rollercoaster California Screamin'; it clocked in at ten injuries. Amazingly, or at least surprisingly for someone who is absolutely terrified of the ride, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror only registered four injuries.
For a more extensive look at the state's findings, and to search by park, ride or year, click here for a searchable database (as provided by The Orange County Register).