"I've seen people fall out of log flumes, stick their hands in machines, throw up everywhere, but I missed the worst by about half an hour.
A man fell off a roller coaster during a gravity hill and was hit by the same train he was riding in. He ended up dying almost immediately. I had been working on the ride up until about a half hour before when my shift ended. He was in the front seat, unfortunately, so all the passengers saw what happened including the nephew he was riding with.
It was one of the reasons I decided to stop working there at the end of the season after two summers. I couldn't get over the thought that a man died because people were lazy or dumb."
"It wasn't at an amusement park, but a fire company carnival. They had a bunch of rented rides, including one that spun around and the cars swung out on arms. They were loading the ride, and the safety bar on one car jammed, so they put the girl that was waiting for that car in the one behind it. About 40 seconds into the ride, the car with the jammed bar broke off, flew across the fairground and hit a man, then slammed into the ground about 30 feet from where I was standing.
The guy survived with some broken ribs. The girl probably would have been killed if the car hadn't tumbled and ended upside-down. They investigated and discovered that the car had completely come off its mounting pins before the ride started, and was being held on by the safety chain that holds the bar closed. It just has one of those 'dog leash' clips, which sheared off."
"I didn't work there, but this was at the Six Flags in Kentucky. There was a ride called the Amputator which is a smaller version of the drop tower at Kings Island. It's just a long pole that carries a circle of people up then drops them for free fall. A buddy of mine was on the ride, and he was placed next to an unlucky girl. He was lucky to have come out with nothing but her blood on his face. The ride got all the way to the top, about a 10-second anticipation filled climb, and one of the many cables snapped. It was too late and the ride dropped.
When you're falling on this ride, your legs get lifted at a 90-degree angle to your torso because of the air. The legs of the girl next to my friend came in contact with the cable. At an acceleration of about 10 m/s2, you're going fast after two seconds. The cable cut both of the girl's feet off about mid-shin and my friend's face was covered in her blood. The doctors were able to reattach one of her legs, but not the other. Needless to say, the ride was shut down after that, and now the park is closed (not because of that incident)."
"I worked at an amusement park for three years. Since I was over 18, I was trained to drive the coasters and open them in the morning (there was this whole safety process we had to go through). The drive-box sat up rather high in comparison to the coaster, so I was able to see down into the seats as they went by. A lot of younger people would look up at me and scream in a joking way, 'stop the ride!' as they went by, but this was a fairly common thing so usually, we would never stop the ride unless something was actually seriously wrong.
Two young girls got in the back car and we went through the normal checking of lap-bar procedures. I get the all clear, and I push the buttons to get the train rolling. As the last car goes by, one of the girls is leaning forward, appearing to be asleep, and I didn't think anything of it because our coaster was fairly tame and a lot of people joked like that. The other girl looked up at me and yelled something, and I didn't think anything of it. I watched them go up the lift hill on the camera and that was that. We loaded the other car and sent it off. When the first car came back, with the two girls in the back seat, something was off though.
The 'sleeping' girl apparently had a seizure before the ride even started and passed out. The other girl was yelling at me to stop the coaster, but it's difficult and time-consuming to get people off the lift hill if it stops, and our coaster was old and loud and wooden, so I had difficulty understanding her. One of the guys on the floor had a sister with epilepsy, so he called 911 and got the girl some water, who was at least coherent at this point. She was covered in vomit.
EMT showed up and took her away. One of the higher-ups came up to me and asked for what happened, and I explained my point of view. He understood and said I didn't do anything wrong. I never saw her again, but I assume she was alright because we never got sued or anything."
"I was the team leader for one of those water raft 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 to come and help with a child, 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 get 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 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 while EMTs treating the kid with the seizure and now the fire department coming to help get these people off the ride safely while rocking the strongest poker face I've ever had to keep.
The conversation with the people on the boat on the lift went something like this:
'Is everything ok?'
'We're just having some technical difficulties. We, unfortunately, need to remove everyone from the ride, just please remain seated and we'll get you out in no time.'
'Why can't we get off now?'
'Your boat stopped in a weird spot so we just need to wait for someone to come tie the boat off.'
'Are we in danger?'
'No not all, but for all that is holy don't bounce around too much and please ignore the news helicopter in the sky.'"
"I worked at an amusement park on the Xtreme Skyflyer ride. There are two cables that attach the people to the arch, and one cable that runs between the arch, and the back tower that's used to lift the people up. One day, the lift cable snapped right when a group of three boys was almost to the top. They were in no danger of falling because of the other two cables, however, there is a 100-pound weight attached to the lift cable that went swinging with them, back and forth, only a foot above their heads. There's nothing you can do to stop them once they drop so I had to sit there holding my breath hoping this weight wouldn't brain one of them.
After they slowed down enough that we could stop them safely, one of the boys grabbed the shredded cable hanging by his face, looked at it, looked at me, and said, 'We didn't make it all the way to the top, can we go again?'"
"I was on a ride called 'The Comet' (think sideways bicycle wheel and the people are sitting where the tire is) when I was a kid. My dad and I were sitting in one of the two-person baskets. Ours broke away from the ride and hit a truck in the parking lot. I spent over a year in the hospital.
My dad died when we hit the parked truck. I was airlifted to the hospital. I broke my right clavicle, right arm, both legs, right ankle, and ribs. I also sprained my left arm. I had a ruptured spleen which was removed. I am relatively okay now, but I do walk with a limp because of nerve damage in my leg. I have a lot of scars. This all happened in Illinois. The operators of the ride were sued, and a lot of the money went toward medical bills."
"When I was in high school, a friend of mine was a ride operator for the Runaway Mine Train at the original Six Flags in Dallas. Now, the mine train is a pretty tame ride, so you wouldn't expect something to go wrong. At one point, it goes slowly through a little building that's made up to look like a saloon or barn or something before doing a sudden drop that always surprises people.
Well, some genius decides to reach his hand up to slap the doorway before the drop. His finger snagged on something and got ripped right off. My friend said they didn't know what was going on at first because the guy was just sitting there clutching his hand when the ride stopped. When they tell you to keep your arms inside the vehicle, you better do it."
"I worked on an old wooden coaster where the brakes were all controlled by wooden levers that when pulled, would physically raise the bottom brakes under the coaster to create enough friction for it to stop. To exit the ride, you had to walk through the cars because if you stepped on the track itself, you could lower the breaks and start the roller coaster moving.
I was the only one working it once and a kid managed to fall onto the tracks and lower the brakes. I had to run to the lever and pull as hard as I could before it hit him. Scariest moment of my life."
"When I was a kid, I went on this ride that was basically a Ferris wheel on a long arm with cars suspended on it. The arm would rise about 20 meters perpendicular to the ground and spin, making the cars go upside down.
My friend and I sat down in a car and waited for the attendant to lock the sliding door. It didn't have seatbelts, and the cars were kind of roomy inside. We were small so we slid around a bit. Anyway, we sat around for a bit waiting for the attendant. He started at the car ahead of ours and went around locking all the doors, but they usually went around twice to make sure all the doors are locked. So I was rather surprised when the ride suddenly lurches and we start spinning 20 meters above the ground with an unlocked door.
My best friend and I held the door shut as tightly as we could, bracing against the opposite side of the car. This was pretty hard, given that we were two skinny 8-year-old boys spinning upside down at a high rate of speed. It was the longest minute of my life. After the ride, we just ran off and contemplated our near-death experience for a while. In retrospect, we could have gotten the operator or the park in trouble, but we didn't know any better at the time.
I think they removed the ride a few years later and raised the age requirements for ride operators, so there is that at least."
"I don't work at an amusement park, but when I was a kid I was riding on the ship that went back and forth before going all the way upside down. The chest restraints came down, and the ship started moving, but something went wrong and my restraint kept pushing down and wouldn't stop. It was crushing me, and I couldn't get a breath in to tell my dad who was next to me. Finally, I managed to grab his arm and he looked over to see my red face and the restraint tight and screamed for them to stop the ride. I got checked out for broken ribs and such, and other than being sore and bruised, I was fine.
After some thought, I figure that probably happened because I was so skinny as a kid. The ride probably sensed there was nobody sitting in it and the restraint tried to force itself into its default empty position."
"One time at Lagoon in Utah, a group of friends and I were loading up into 'The Rocket,' which was a tower ride that shot you into straight into the air.
There were four seats per side of the tower but only three of us riding together. When I first sat down, I sat on one of the ends, but my other two friends filled in from the opposite side, leaving an empty seat in between us. I wanted to be next to my friends so I switched into the empty middle seat closest to them.
The attendant came by and pushed all the shoulder restraints down and locked them. The ride lifted us a few feet into the air as we anxiously awaited 'blast off.'
When we shot into the air, much to my horror, the seat I had previously been sitting in flew open and the restraint violently slammed open and shut as we rode up and down. I couldn't enjoy the ride knowing I was just sitting in that chair. I threw a fit when we were safely on the ground, and they shut down the ride down to figure out why the lock failed.
I ended up getting a free day pass for my troubles. As if returning to that scary ride would somehow make it better. I have been back many times since, but never back to the rocket ride."
"I worked at Six Flags for a year as a ride operator. One day, I was being trained to work at the lifts of the log ride thing. The guy who was training me spent about an hour up there with me, and I felt comfortable with it. About 20 minutes after he left, a log with about five obnoxious girls came around the corner. One of the girls who was wearing a blue dress and a pink birthday girl sash decided the slight dip after the top of the hill was far too much to handle and thought bailing off the ride would be a good idea. I watched as she jumped from the boat to the concrete and disappear into some bushes.
Meanwhile, her friends are screaming bloody murder and I'm frozen in terror. The only thing I could think to do was call the girl at the bottom that hated my guts and tell her what happened. She breathed an exasperated sigh and told me to just push the big red button that would make the ride stop. My manager and security looked for the jumper for about 15 minutes before giving up. I still have no clue what happened to her, but it sure did give me a scare."
"When I was about four years old, my parents took me to Coney Island. Being adventurous (but tiny), I wanted to ride the upside down rollercoaster despite not being tall enough. Apparently, the ride attendant told my father 'it's fine' and let me on anyway.
My father sat next to me and described what happened next as 'the scariest minute of his life to date.' The overhead bars came down and stopped at my eyes. There was no lap belt. He yelled for the attendant to stop the ride, but it started anyway.
My dad spent the entire ride clinging to me so I wouldn't fall out. I'm not sure why he allowed me to get on in the first place."
"I was doing special effects makeup for Six Flags Magic Mountain in October 2010. Opening weekend, a group of artists and I decided to go on Goliath on break. On the first hill up, the coaster stops just before it clears the highest peak. I'm sitting in a reclining position, with only a lap bar, 255 feet in the air. I was terrified. Everyone else thought it was hilarious.
We were stuck up there for only about five minutes, but it felt like forever. Did I mention it was pitch black outside? I wasn't afraid of rollercoasters before, but now I'm wary."
"I was at a water park in Spain, and I was sliding down a little slope sitting on a rubber ring. This was a fun attraction where you had to slide down an artificial 'river.' So I slid from one pool to another and my sister pushed me back in front of the slope where people were going down quite fast. A guy coming down this slope bumped into me with an incredible jolt. It wasn't his fault though because there was no way for him to slow down.
I was knocked into the pool under a battalion of people. I was starting to panic underwater because of the shock I didn't know where I was. Fortunately, a guy saw me and pushed people above me so I could resurface. This was one of the scariest moments of my life and it only lasted 10 seconds or so, along with the time where I shocked on an ice cube, this was the only 'this is how I die' time I can remember."