For thrill seekers, a trip to the amusement park almost always includes at least one round on each and every one of the park’s stomach-churning rides. The bigger the roller coaster, the longer the lines to get on them.
But sometimes, it pays to err on the side of caution and just skip roller coaster rides all together. Never mind if you stick to the “sissy” rides, at least you’re safe! Here are some of the worst roller coaster accidents that can make roller coaster freaks think twice about getting on one.
Big Dipper (Battersea Park Fun Fair, England, 1972)
Naming a roller coaster Big Dipper might be bad luck because so far, two rides with such a name made it to the list of disastrous roller coaster accidents. In 1972, the Big Dipper in Battersea Park Fun Fair in England victimized 18 of the park’s guests. Being a wooden roller coaster, it wore out easily and when the ride was running, a rope snapped and a mechanism failed, causing a convoy of cars to come rolling down the steep incline. The accident killed five children and injured 13 others.
Mindbender (Galaxyland Amusement Park, Edmonton, Alberta, 1986)
West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Alberta is the biggest in North America and not surprisingly, it houses an indoor amusement park, Galaxyland, within its massive grounds. The Mindbender, the largest indoor triple looped roller coaster, was the park’s biggest attraction but it suffered a disaster a year after it opened. Turned out, there were bolts missing, causing the last car of the train to fly off the track and collide with concrete walls. Three people died and several were injured during the incident.
Batman (Six Flags Georgia, 2008)
The accident that happened on the Batman roller coaster in Six Flags Georgia back in 2008 was not because of a defect or malfunction, but more of poor judgement on the part of a passenger. After he left the ride, he realized that he dropped his hat on the ground below the ride. Nobody knows what possessed him to jump over two fences to try to grab his hat—while the ride above him was in progress. He lost his head, quite literally, when the roller coaster car decapitated him as he retrieved his hat.
Wild Wonder (Gillian’s Wonderland Pier, New Jersey, 1999)
The Wild Wonder in Gillian’s Wonderland Pier in Jersey proved to be too wild for the passengers’ tastes. In 1999, the roller coaster lost traction when it was approaching its peak and dove 30 feet backward, hitting a sharp curve. The accident resulted in the death of a woman and her 8-year-old daughter, plus two other serious injuries.
Space Journey (Overseas China Town East Theme Park, China, 2010)
The Space Journey simulator ride in China was meant to give passengers a feel of blasting off at full speed inside a space rocket. Back in 2010, there were 40 people enjoying the ride when one of the cabins came loose and crashed into the other cabins, causing several of the compartments to plummet 50 feet to the ground. What’s worse, the collision ejected passengers from the ride, causing many injuries and six tragic deaths.
The Cyclone (Coney Island, New York, 1988)
If you want a little taste of the classic carnival and fair, Coney Island is the place to go. For those who’ve been to the peninsula in New York, they know that the Cyclone is the epitome of old school roller coasters and is thereby one of the most famous in the country. But it’s also seen its share of disasters. In 1988, a maintenance employee was inadvertently asking for a death wish, as he mounted the roller coaster, pulled up the safety bar, and stood on the car as the ride made its first drop. The man was thrown off and fell on a crossbeam 30 feet below, dying instantly. The incident wasn’t a safety issue, though. The fault was the victim’s for attempting that crazy stunt.
The Rat (Loudoun Castle, Scotland, 2007)
When doing maintenance and repair on a roller coaster, never do it alone. Mark Blackwood learned this the hard way when he attempted to fix the Rat roller coaster in Loudoun Castle. The car suddenly stopped on the tracks and when Blackwood climbed the tracks and attempted to push it, it jerked forward and his hand got stuck in the car. He fell to his death when the car reached the top of the tracks.
Ride of Steel (Darien Lake, Buffalo, New York, 2011)
It’s tough to fall victim to an accident when you’ve been assured by a park’s employees that a roller coaster ride is safe for you. This is exactly what happened to an Iraq War veteran who lost two of his legs in the war. He asked if it was safe for him to get on the Ride of Steel roller coaster and was given the go-signal by park officials. Unfortunately, when the ride went over one of its many hills, the war vet bounced out of the safety harness and plunged to his death.
Puff the Little Fire Dragon (Lagoon Amusement Park, Utah, 1989)
Who would have thought that a children’s ride could be so dangerous? The Puff the Little Fire Dragon ride caused the death of a little 6-year-old boy, despite it being one of the slowest and safest in Lagoon Amusement Park. The child was able to worm out of the safety restraints and stand up when the ride was already moving. He fell to the ground four feet below, but he tried to climb back onto the tracks and that’s what did him in. The car knocked him unconscious and he died instantly.
Superman Tower of Power (Six Flags Georgia, 2007)
It’s not a roller coaster per se, as the Superman Tower of Power is more of a high and fast vertical drop with passengers’ feet hanging in the air. Seemed like harmless fun, but in 2007, a group of teenage girls who rode it were in for a horrible accident. The ride’s support cables broke and started whipping the girls all over their bodies continuously, until the ride finally did the freefall. Almost all passengers were severely injured and one girl had to have both feet amputated.
Big Dipper (Krug Park, Omaha, Nebraska, 1930)
Back in the 30s, roller coaster safety had yet to be strengthened, so looking back, it was no real surprise to hear of the Big Dipper accident in Krug Park in Omaha. One of the bolts holding the train together fell loose and sent four cars of people plummeting to the ground from a great height. Most were injured and there were four that were killed. Needless to say, the park closed soon after.
Fujin Raijin II (Expoland, Osaka, Japan, 2007)
One of the many dangers of roller coasters is because it moves so fast, it runs the risk of derailment. And that’s exactly what happened to the Fujin Raijin II roller coaster in Japan. The train derailed because it was later discovered that the axles hadn’t been replaced in 15 years! The accident injured 19 people and killed one. What made it worse was that the park’s operators still insisted on letting the ride run even after safety inspectors discovered another train with the same axle problem! The park closed soon after due to very low traffic. Go figure.