"I operated a few different roller coasters during my fun-filled summers at this amusement park, but most of my horror stories come from one ride in particular. The train was one of the ones that you had to step into, with a lap bar restraint.
On one particular day, it was over 100 degrees and the ride had been running as usual for most of the morning. As we were loading the train, a guest came up to me to say that there was an awful smell coming from the front car, and my stomach immediately dropped. Usually, with these types of complaints, we'd find that the previous rider had one too many slushees before riding and had lost their lunch. Gross, but we were used to cleaning that kind of stuff.
I started approaching the front car and immediately called for my coworker to direct everyone out of the train and back into the line, and to call our supervisor to close the ride. Instead of a normal puke situation, I found a greenish-brown liquid spread all throughout the front car, from the seat down to the floor. Whoever was the last person to ride the ride had defacated all over themselves and hadn't bothered to tell anyone about it.
Cleaning human feces is one thing - it's absolutely disgusting but it can be done. But trying to clean up human diarrhea in 100-degree weather, off of the floor of a car where you had to kneel down and stick your head into the car to reach the front, is a situation that I would never have imagined even in my worst nightmares. The ride was down for the rest of the day, and it took an hour to clean everything out of the car before we could start sanitizing it."
"I was working the first shift opening the park and doing dry runs with a roller coaster. When it came back, there were obvious signs of an impact on the front car. One of the groundskeepers was listening to music while working through his shift and didn't hear the train coming. He died instantly. The following week was a nightmare, and I still don't think to this day they have found all of him.
The park tried to cover it up and 'bribe' a couple of people who were on the ride who actually saw the guy get hit. My manager was telling them that they 'imagined' it and I was like, umm, there's blood everywhere, pretty sure they didn't imagine it. He went on to accuse me of being high and had me questioning whether or not I was actually seeing what I saw. He told me I was never to talk about it with anyone and had me sign a non-disclosure in order to keep my job. I was never, not once, asked to give a statement to anyone. They just told me to shut up and go about my business as if nothing ever happened."
"I was working in an amusement park as a 19-year-old and was on the turnstile talking with guests and checking everyone off. About 3 in the afternoon, a very young girl, about 6 or so, came up with her father, both in swimwear. Not unusual, since there's a water park attached to the regular park. However, there is a rule in the park that you have to be wearing a shirt to ride the ride, and the girl was in a two-piece suit. I informed the both of them that the girl needed a shirt, and we would be happy to save their spot in line if she had a shirt she could run and grab. Her father raised his voice and loudly asked why I was 'looking at his little girl' and shouted about me being a perv.
The kid had no problem with it, and from what it sounded like she could have run out to her mom at the foot of the ride and gotten her shirt.
I backed off and told him he misunderstood, but he kept shouting back to the line behind him about how I was a 'sicko,' and only stopped when park security arrived a few minutes later. It was one of two times I felt like I was actually in danger. The father was furious.
Another time, I was running the control panel on the same ride, and one of my coworkers noticed four guys all smoking in the line. That's prohibited, so she asked them to cut it out. They did, and when they boarded the ride and were leaving the station, they started cussing at my coworker, so I alerted park security. Getting off the ride, though, one of the guys decided to jump onto the employee-only section of the ride platform and start yelling and cussing at my coworker some more, even grabbing her arm and pushing her. I let my temper get the best of me and I got in the guy's face, and the guy's friends all decided that they needed to be involved too. Security showed up before my dumb self swung at anybody, and my coworker never really felt safe at work after that, quitting a week or so afterward."
"I'm not an employee but was a resident of the area at the time - at Busch Gardens (VA) a few birds got in the way of a moving coaster train during its grand opening and hit the supermodel Fabio in the face.
The news was there to cover the inaugural celebrity ride, but all they'd show for a while was the train returning to the station and Fabio with a face full of blood."
"A few years ago, a small theme park in my state made some kind of mistake when chlorinating the wave pools and made a bunch of chlorine gas causing 26 people to be taken to the hospital.
They combined too much muriatic acid and sodium hypochlorite. In addition to hospitalizing the 26 people, local authorities also had to reroute the highway."
"I was a caricature artist for Six Flags, and one day, a dad and his son came up and wanted a drawing of the two of them.
The way caricature pricing worked was we would charge per person in the drawing. The father and son wanted a simple black and white headshot of the two of them, and a black and white headshot was $10, so for the two of them, it would be $20, before tax. I clearly explained this to them, asking several times: 'Are you ok with the ending price?' and they excitedly accepted.
When I was ringing them up, I told them the total: $24. The father's happy and friendly demeanor quickly dissipated, and he began arguing with me about pricing. I calmly explained the situation with pricing and apologized if I wasn't clear enough, and gently reminded him that he understood and agreed, otherwise I wouldn't have done the drawing. Big mistake. He got angrier and started yelling at me, cursing me out for lying and overcharging them 'to put a few more coins in my pocket.'
He accused me of preying on parents and their children, thinking I could take advantage of them. He tried to take the drawing without paying, and when I held it back and told him he couldn't, he threw a $10 bill at me and snarled that that was all he was going to pay, that I was worthless and my drawing wasn't even good and didn't deserve any more than that. I was upset by this point and handed him the drawing wishing him a good day. The whole time, his son was standing there, looking embarrassed and terrified.
The dad proceeded to pace back and forth in front of my stand, alternating between coming back to the counter and yelling at me and chasing customers away, screaming at them about how I was 'stealing money' and how the stand was 'a huge rip-off.'
Thankfully, his charade lasted all of 20 minutes and police finally got him out of there. It left me pretty shaken though. I had to take my break early and cried over my lunch."
"During my first season working at a local amusement park, a mentally challenged man riding a ride called 'The Rainbow' suddenly panicked and decided he needed to get off the ride - while it was running. The restraints on that ride are quite restrictive so it takes some effort to get out of them. Somehow he slipped out of them and stood up. The operator saw this as soon as it happened and hit the emergency stop. Unfortunately, the force of the ride stopping caused the man to lose his balance and he fell about 40 feet to his death in front of a huge line of horrified guests and a traumatized ride operator. The operator kept working at the park but transferred to retail after that.
My own personal story happened a couple years later. Denver during the mid to late summer has a monsoon season, where almost every day about 4 pm, an intense thunderstorm rolls through town. Hail, lightning, thunder, tornado sirens, the works. The storm moves so fast that it only lasts about 20 minutes before it moves on. One day, the storm hit the park, and as per usual, we shut down all the rides and helped the guests find shelter from the hail and wait it out. During this time, lightning struck one of the rides, specifically the wave swinger ride that spins around with people in swings.
Nobody was anywhere near the ride when the lightning struck, however, the power surge caused the ride to start up on its own, and it was moving at a faster speed than it was originally designed to. All the ride ops (including me) for the surround rides were taking shelter with some guests at another ride as we watched this ride suddenly start up and spin out of control. The ride's assigned operator was freaking out (she had the key in hand and everything) and suddenly we all started hearing a lot of... exclamations over the radio as supervisors and managers thought someone was at the ride.
Mind you, it is hailing this whole time. Unfortunately, I had to run out there, dodging hail and lightning to hit the emergency stop button on the ride and shut it down. The ride ended up being shut down for quite some time after that."
"I worked on the Dueling Dragons at Universal Orlando while in college. The Dueling Dragons were two separate coasters that 'dueled' and had several near misses with each other. They were unique at the time and were extremely fun.
As you can imagine, Universal told people to empty their pockets before they rode so that their phones and other belongings wouldn't fly out and smack somebody on the other coaster at 60 miles per hour. Of course, many times people would ignore this because they're lazy and stupid.
I was working one day when the ride shut down completely. Some loose change had flown out of someone's pocket and hit a guy in the face, leaving him blind in one eye. The tragic part... the guy already couldn't see out of his other eye. Now the guy is blind.
They didn't duel anymore after that, and the ride was left permanently much lamer. I still feel for the poor blind guy... but the irony is comedic in a dark sort of way."
"I used to be an operations lead on the Jurassic Park ride at Universal Studios Hollywood. One day, I was working on the dispatch board (JP3), sitting in the operations booth when a phone rang. The lead manning the cameras answered, then suddenly slammed the emergency stop button, shutting the entire ride down. We'd stopped for a moment so we could off-load a disabled guest, and some brain surgeon was annoyed at the delay, so he lifted his kid out of the boat and sent him to call the booth from the emergency phone right next to the Jeep drop effect, which back then was still functional.
If we hadn't been shut down, the kid very well could have been killed. We evacuated the ride and stayed down for five hours because we couldn't get the water pumps back up and running. The dad and his family were removed from the park without refund, though they pitched a fit.
Another time, we had a couple of kids running around assaulting the costumed characters and then taking off. We had rough descriptions, and I just happened to be at the front entrance while a character was walking around. I saw one of them making a running approach on the mascot and threw a nasty block into him as he tried to pass me. He went down hard and stayed down when another guard dropped on top of him. He and his buddy were arrested, and I got a nice bonus for stopping them."
"I once worked the high school night at a Midwestern amusement park. Some guy decided to climb the large structure in the middle of the park resembling the Eiffel Tower.
He was beyond all of the protected barriers and watched an elevator go up, and continued to climb. Since he, at this point, was already a genius, he forgot about the 6,000-pound counterweight that is careening down at him at 40 mph.
The guy was cut in half, and one half looked a lot like pink jello. Chaos ensued and his body was covered in sheets that were billowing in the wind since they are 150 feet above the ground.
Then, of course, operations continued normally."
"I worked at a children's amusement park, and they had me operating the Ferris wheel which is a rough ride to operate. You have to balance it and put people on of similar weights on opposite cars so it's a lot of stopping and loading before letting it go around a few times.
As you can imagine it's difficult for a teenager to explain to an overweight couple why they can't get on the ride when the only other person on the ride is a skinny kid. I was supposed to only be on the ride for two hours. They left me there for four hours in direct sunlight with no breaks. After four hours on a busy day with no water and no break and getting sick of having fat people yell at me for not being able to get on immediately, I lost track of whether it was balanced. I wound up making it go backward and people freaked out. That's happened before but I was usually able to stop it before it went all the way around. Not this time. I physically didn't have the strength. Luckily the owner was around and stopped it. People were not happy.
When my supervisor came to see what happened I said, 'that's what happens when you leave someone on this ride for four hours.' No idea how I didn't get fired. No one was hurt but they sure were terrified."
"I used to drive the monorails at Disney World. We could take up to four people with us in the front of the monorail, all they had to do was ask for the nose.
One time I was at Epcot Center and this family of three got on board. They all seemed to be in a good mood and as we were traveling the son said, 'Daddy, I don't feel so good,' and the father said to him: 'Did you eat too much junk food?'
Just then I noticed the kid began to hurl. The father just shoved a t-shirt into the kid's mouth, and it was spraying out the sides like a busted water pipe. All over the floor was brown water and chunks of hot dogs. The smell was killing the rest of us. When we pulled into the station at the transportation and ticket center, there were a few good looking girls waiting to get in the nose. But me being the lucky guy that I am when the doors opened and they could smell it everybody on the platform just ran away from the train. The family was apologetic, but it took a while to get that smell out of the train."
"So Six Flags has a lot of dumb rules for their employees which causes there to be a crazy high turnover rate. That, on top of the fact that on this particular day it happened to be the hottest day of the summer in New England, meant that after having only worked there for two and a half weeks I was the most senior person in my department of Kidzopolis.
This means I had to run the whole operations schedule for my department and tell everybody where to go and what to do all day. Keep in mind, I didn't even know half of these people's names. On top of that, nobody knew how to operate the zoom jets.
So my supervisor grabbed me first thing in the morning and told me he was going to teach me how to operate this ride. Things were going alright when about halfway through this training, my supervisor passed out because of the excessive heat.
So I was supposed to be leading this department full of people I did not know while operating a ride I do not know how to operate, and if I had any questions then I had no one to ask because my supervisor was unconscious somewhere.
Meanwhile, I was getting calls and someone was like, 'Hey, Sally passed out in the Splish Splash Zone,' and I was just like who is Sally. Julie was calling me and telling me she was feeling dehydrated and needed to go on a break, and I was like, 'Listen. I've got Julio trying to operate the Krazy Kups and the Wacky Wagons at the same time, what makes you think we have enough staff to let you go on break?'
Fast forward to the end of the day, I had three people faint because of the heat, I still didn't know most of my coworkers' names, but I did get yelled at in Spanish over the phone a lot, and because I felt bad that nobody got enough time on break I told everyone they could go home and I'd sweep up the department on my own.
I got pretty good at the zoom jets though."
"I was at Cedar Point the day a guy got decapitated while trying to get his cell phone back after it fell off the Raptor. There was a huge crowd by the front of the park, and I originally thought LeBron James or someone famous was at the park until we learned from a friend back home that someone had died at the park.
It hasn't ever haunted me to this day, the guy made an idiotic mistake, but I do feel sad for the family. They have restricted areas for a reason, so it's a good reminder to everyone that anything that falls in there is gone."
Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock
"I used to work security at a Six Flags. The thing that sticks out the most to me was around 13 years ago. On 4th of July, I went with a group of other security officers to help out at Hurricane Harbor since they had more guests than usual show up.
Come to find out the increased attendance was because of a radio station, that was banned from Six Flags, announced that rapper Mike Jones and his crew were going to be at Hurricane Harbor that day and the station was awarding tickets they didn't have to listeners. So what ends up happening is that a bunch of different street gangs decide to show up so they could hang out with Mike Jones.
The place to hang out is the wave pool. Every 45 minutes there is a 15-minute safety break where everyone has to leave the wave pool. When this happens most people just get in the lazy river that flows around the wave pool. Well, during one of these safety breaks, all of a sudden, I start hearing people simultaneously yelling, 'Aye, aye, aye,' and then see all kinds of people running.
The next thing I know there is a gang fight in the lazy river. One of the first things we are taught is to never get in the middle of a group fight because they will stop fighting each other and start fighting you. Well, a Hurricane Harbor security officer decides to ignore all that and jumps in and gets his butt kicked. I think he actually got yelled at more for getting his radio wet than for getting beaten up.
There were a few more fights after that, so the park called the police to send more officers to help. We ended up having the local SWAT team out there helping out.
Every year after that there was always a group of Six Flags security officers that were sent to Hurricane Harbor specifically to help out with the wave pool and lazy river on July 4th, no matter how many people were in attendance that day. I have not been to an amusement park since I quit because of stuff like that, and do not plan on going anytime soon."