20 Life-Threatening US Theme Parks That Are Not For The Faint Of Heart

Theme parks bring out the kids in us all, from the delicious cotton candy to the thrilling rollercoaster rides. But sometimes a seemingly innocent ride can turn into a nightmare. From roller coasters with too much G-force for riders to stomach to water slides that have gone wrong and resulted in injuries or even death, some theme parks can be downright dangerous.

From New Jersey to California, here are the 20 most life-threatening theme parks in the US.

1. Rye Playland

RYE, NY - JUN 3: Playland Park in Rye, New York, as seen on Jun 3, 2018. The park was built in 1928.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Six accidents happened at this New York amusement park, including the ejection of passengers from rides and various seat belt issues. A little girl also choked on gum and passed away while riding the dragon roller coaster.

2. Action Park

Enthusiastic young friends riding roller coaster ride at amusement park. Young people having fun at amusement park.
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Many news outlets deem Action Park the most dangerous amusement park in the U.S. A documentary entitled Class Action Park arose following the accounts of deadly incidents and accidents at the New Jersey park. On the opening day of the wave pool, 100 individuals had to be rescued, and over 100 separate injuries occurred throughout the lifespan of the park. 

3. Icon Park

ORLANDO, FL – NOV 24: The Wheel at ICON Park in Orlando, Florida, as seen on Nov 24, 2019. At 400 feet tall, The Wheel has 30 climate-controlled capsules. Each rotation takes about 22 minutes.
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Recently, a 14-year-old boy fell to his demise on a drop tower at ICON Park. According to reports, the crew member manually adjusted the harness to fit the boy’s dimensions. However, the worker overestimated the harness measurements, and the boy slipped out. 

4. Knotts Berry Farm 

Buena Park, California - November 15 2018: The Silver Bullet chain lift at Knott's Berry Farm.
Image Credit: Shutterstock/Logan Bush

Two incidents come to mind when thinking of Knott’s Berry Farm. The first being when a 12-year-old boy rode the Xcelerator, a loop coaster reaching 205 feet. A cable broke, trapped the boy, and shot debris at the rest of the riders. The second involves the GhostRider ride, a wooden roller coaster responsible for nearly 30 injuries—the majority of the affected experiencing rib pain. The park crew altered the ride’s layout and track after California begged for change. 

5. Adventuredome

LAS VEGAS - CIRCA 2014: Adventure dome amusement park in Circus Circus Hotel in Las Vegas on CIRCA 2014. It has The world's largest indoor double-loop, double-corkscrew roller coaster.
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If you’ve been to Vegas, you know to avoid Circus Circus. The Adventuredome is the designated theme park inside the hotel. Guests claim to experience head trauma, sickness, and long-term health effects after riding the attractions at the Adventuredome. 

6. Giant Canyon Swing

Giant Canyon Swing at Glenwood Caverns
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This ride straps in a few passengers and sends them soaring over a canyon at 50 mph. According to records, no accidents have occurred yet. Still, professionals say this ride operates too fast to remain in the clear.

7. Kings Island

Kings Island
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In 1991 three separate fatal instances transpired within the same hour. A guest drowned in a pond, and those who dived in to rescue him succumbed to electrical shock. A few moments later, another man fell to his death off a ride. In 2006, 27 people experienced a terrifying reality when the infrastructure responded to the weight on the ride. Recently, a newer coaster has been causing safety concerns among visitors.  

8. Darien Lake

Darien Center, New York / USA - June 18, 2011. Ferris wheel and a bungee jumper at Darien Lake, theme park.
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I visited Darien Lake with my seventh-grade class for our annual field trip. My friends shared all the ghost stories surrounding each ride, prompting us to ride them even more. In 2011, a double amputee boarded the Superman ride. Since the ride did not have safety precautions set for amputees, he was permitted to ride. The man was ejected from the ride and, unfortunately, passed away. But that wasn’t the first case of ejection at this park. 

9. Lagoon Amusement Park

Ferris wheel at Lagoon in Utah
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Wooden roller coasters have their charm. The shakiness adds a layer of suspense to the roller coasters. Yet, the wooden coaster in Utah contributed to the deaths of three parkgoers. A little boy suffered injuries on a slow coaster as well. The boy fell out of the ride without injury, but as little kids do, he eagerly jumped back on as the coaster hit him in the head. The blunt force trauma led to his instant death.  

10. Alabama Adventure Amusement Park

Two children on water slide at aquapark
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Visitors say this water park does not flow enough water through the slides to be safe. Guests end up sticking to the slides and having to crawl out. In addition to the lack of water, the park is understaffed, and the rides shake more than a comfortable amount.

11. Waterworld California  

Closeup point front view photography of front part of yellow waterslide with running down water. No people.
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In a freak accident, around 30 people jumped onto a corkscrew slide designated for one person. One person died, and the others sustained injuries. Other cases include a drowning and a near-death incident.  

12. Kennywood Amusement Park  

West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, USA - June 30, 2023: Flags fly over the Main Gate to historic Kennywood Park in the Pittsburg suburbs.
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Visitors and citizens of Pennsylvania claim that Kennywood is not a safe space for the public due to the uptick in gun violence and the lack of employees. 

13. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

santa cruz boardwalk
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Once upon a time, the Santa Cruz Boardwalk and Disneyland competed. After the boardwalk got too comfortable with its status, it started to relax its safety precautions and dwindled in quality (and safety).

14. Six Flags

Arlington, TX / USA - January 4, 2020: Visitors to Six Flags Over Texas enjoy the evening of roller coasters and amusements.
Image Credit: Shutterstock/Tallmaple

The Six Flags franchise operates in states such as Georgia, Kentucky, and New Jersey. In New Jersey, a fire broke out, leading to fatalities among its guests. In Atlanta, a teenager was decapitated by a ride, and in Kentucky, a couple of girls faced abrasions after a cable snapped and hit them.  

15. Schlitterbahn

Kansas City, Kansas, United States - June 11, 2016: Verruckt water slide at Schlitterbahn waterpark
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Visitors faced severe injuries while visiting this Kansas park. A raft attached to a water slide collapsed and fell over 150 feet to the ground, startling and injuring the riders. Another incident included a young boy losing his life on one of the tallest water slides. 

16. Luna Park Coney Island  

NEW YORK CITY - OCTOBER 11, 2015: Luna Park with unidentified people. Its an amusement park in Coney Island opened on May 29, 2010 at the former site of Astroland, named after original park from 1903
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A little girl fell out of her seat at this Coney Island amusement park. Guests warn other parkgoers to keep an eye out for the ceilings in the theme park.  

17. Extreme World

Full length photo of anxious embarrassed girl person look empty space fly down isolated on blue color background
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A 14-year-old was expecting to have an exciting day at Extreme World in Lake Delton, Wisconsin. She prepared to ride Terminal Velocity, a drop tower-type attraction, without any proper safety precautions in place except a meager airbag and net. When the worker released the sliding door underneath the girl, the net and the airbag were not in place. She somehow survived, albeit sustaining chronic injuries.

18. Disneyland

Disneyland Park in Anaheim California
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The happiest place on Earth may cover up bad press well, but that doesn’t negate the fact that several injuries and deaths have occurred at Mickey’s Wonderland. A few people drowned, some passed away on the people over, and another tragedy ensued on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  

19. Old Town Slingshot

A young girl on the bungy ride and obviously enjoying the thrill of the slingshot effect.
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Hopping on a slingshot ride never appealed to me. I’ll jump out of a plane and zip line over a canyon, but I will never willingly get in a slingshot. A cable broke at the Old Town Slingshot while two riders remained suspended in the air, waiting for the fire rescue crew to save them. 

20. Sea World

Orlando, Florida. December 19, 2018. Panoramic view of Seaworld sign in International Drive area
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SeaWorld makes this list for a different reason than the other theme parks. The park embraces its meshing of humans and animals. For example, guests can snorkel with the sea life and interact with dolphins, yet the risk of injury increases when you account for these factors. There have also been instances where orcas turn aggressive toward their trainers.

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