Ghosts of Disneyland: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad & More

Up until 1984, all of the park visitors who lost their lives were teenagers. Careless moves and decisions were the culprit of their demise, but in January of ’84, a 48-year-old woman by the name of Dolly Regene Young was killed while riding the Matterhorn. Now, if you remember, this is the same ride that was responsible for the first Disneyland guest death about 20 years previous.


The Matterhorn was about 2/3 of the way down the mountain when Young was thrown from her seat. She landed in the path of an oncoming bobsled and when it collided into her, her head and chest had become pinned beneath the wheels. It was a gruesome sight to say the least. Authorities were wondering if they accident had something to do with the equipment or if it was the fault of Young. An investigation revealed that she did not have her seatbelt on at the time. Since she was riding alone in the last car, no one knew for sure if it was she who had deliberately undone her belt or if it was truly a malfunction of the ride. This is something that we will never know to this day.


Christmas is supposed to be a joyous occasion, but not for the family of a Disneyland cast member and guest. On Christmas Eve, tragedy struck when a cast member and two guests were injured when a fluke accident occurred. A rope that was used to secure the sailing ship, Columbia was docking on the Rivers of America (there is just something about these waters”¦) suddenly tore loose from its metal post and took to the air, striking the heads of two guests who were eagerly awaiting safe passage onto the ship for a ride. The two guests, 33-year-old Luan Phi Dawson and 43-year-old Lieu Thuy Vuong were rushed to the hospital. Two days later, Dawson was declared brain dead and passed away when his life support machine has been disconnected.


This was an unfortunate milestone in the history of Disneyland because it marked the first time that someone did not lose their life from being careless or making the wrong decision regarding the rules of the rides and park. It was later assessed that the ride maintenance of the boat was poor and did not meet standards for the park. It was also determined that the supervisor of the boat took on the position of an operator of park attractions when he really didn’t have the proper qualifications to do so. After this accident, Disneyland made moves to increase the safety precautions and make changes to the way the theme park was ran.


In more recent times, a 22-year-old man named Marcelo Torres lost his life when a locomotive became detached from its train as it traveled along a section of tunnel built for the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. This accident, which also injured several other guests lead to the death of Torres as he lost a hefty amount of blood. It was the blunt force trauma of this accident that caused his chest to give out and bleed to death.