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Ghosts of Disneyland: Matterhorn; Monorail; People Mover Deaths

By Yona Williams    11/8/06

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Walt Disney World and Disneyland are thought of as a place of happiness and awe. Life-size cartoon characters greet you at every bend, but every once in a while, you may hear of tales less-than-desirable that are associated with this wonderland for visitors of all ages. It is believed there are numerous ghosts attached to the Disney name and it isn’t Walt Disney himself, but individuals who have lost their lives when visiting the park.


While some employees and visitors to the park claim to have encountered the ghosts of those who helped build the park or cleaned up the grounds, there are more pressing apparitions to take notice of. Throughout the years of Disney, there have been 10 or so deaths that have occurred on the premises of Disneyland Parks. Most of these lost lives have come from disregard, a misuse or abuse of the rules, regulations, and equipment.  


In May 1964, a 15-year old teenager, Mark Maples was killed when he attempted to stand up on one of the rides. He and his friend were enjoying the Matterhorn Bobsleds, when Maples stood up on his bobsled as it neared the top of the mountain. He had unbuckled his seatbelt and suddenly lost his balance. He was thrown from the sled and landed on the track below himself. His ribs were cracked and he sustained a fracture in his skull. Three days later, he was pronounced dead. He had passed away from his injuries.


The next death came in June 1966, when 19-year-old Thomas Cleveland lost his life after he tried to sneak into the Monorail track along Disneyland. Cleveland entered the park by scaling the outer fence of the park, which stood at 16 feet high. All of this occurred during Grad Nite. It was Cleveland’s intentions to jump down or climb down the fence once he got inside the park. With his goal set in front of him, Cleveland disregarded the pleas of a security guard, who warned him that a Monorail train was coming close. As Cleveland jumped from the fence, he did not make a clear leap of the track. At one last attempt, he tried to climb down a canopy made from fiberglass that was located beneath the track. Unfortunately, the clearance was not enough and he was hit and killed by the oncoming train, which drags his body about 30 to 40 feet down the length of the track.


In August of 1967, it was the People Mover car that took the life of 17-year-old Ricky Lee Yama. As the Disney ride was passing through a tunnel, Yama left his ride, totally disregarding any safety rules. While jumping from car to car, he lost his footing, slipped and was crushed to death from the wheels of another car.


For more details on the deaths that occurred in Disneyland and the ghosts that may haunt this site, check out the next article, which takes you to the unfortunate event that took place in the Rivers of America.


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