9 tragic deaths that happened at Walt Disney World

Posted at 3:40 PM, Jun 15, 2016

Walt Disney World is normally known to bring smiles to visitors from across the world.

Unfortunately, news of a two-year-old boy being attacked by an alligator and pulled into a lagoon at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa has cast a shadow of the magical destination and it’s not the first time tragedy has hit the resort.

RELATED: Walt Disney World closes beaches after alligator takes boy

Here are eight other times people died on Walt Disney World property.

  • On March 22, 2016, a man reportedly jumped to his death from Disney’s Contemporary Resort’s inner A-frame tower. Witness reports stated Walt Disney World monorails temporarily shut down as officials quickly roped off a crime scene area, but reopened later in the day to normal operations.


  • A three-year-old child drowned in one of Disney’s Art of Animation resort pools on July 14, 2015. The Orlando Sentinel reported the child got separated from his parents and following a brief search, was found at the bottom of the pool around 8 p.m.


  • A fatal accident occurred on April 12, 2015 at the Walt Disney World Speedway when a driver at the Exotic Driving Experience lost control on the course and crashed. A Florida Highway Patrol investigation concluded driving instructor Gary Terry, 36, died when driver Tavon Watson, 24, was driving a Lamborghini at 100 mph in the wrong direction on the track. Officials said Terry’s car “wouldn’t have been exposed to the end of the guardrails had the car been traveling in the direction for which the track was designed, which was counterclockwise.” Walt Disney World received $7,000 in fines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as a result of the accident. The Walt Disney World Speedway was demolished in August 2015 to expand Magic Kingdom parking.


  • A Walt Disney World costumed cast member playing Pluto in the daily afternoon parade “Share a Dream Come True” was run over by one of the parade floats on Feb. 11, 2004. Javier Cruz, 38, had worked at Walt Disney World for eight years  and was a father of two. He was struck just before entering a public viewing area in Frontierland, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The accident led OSHA to assess a $6,300 fine.


  • On Sept. 12, 1992, a man shot and killed himself at Disney’s Epcot theme park. Allan Ferris entered the park about 90 minutes after operating hours in search of his ex-girlfriend. Orange County deputy sheriffs reported Ferris demanded to see the woman and when security guards refused, he pulled out a sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun. Ferris fired three shots and the three guards fled. One guard escaped, but two stopped after Ferris shot at them again. Ferris took the guards hostage in the Journey into Imagination pavilion for approximately 10 minutes. He eventually released the hostage and walked out with the gun pointed at himself. Moments later, he shot himself in the head. He was pronounced dead at Orlando Regional Medical Center.


  • A four-year-old boy from Dolton, Illinois drowned in the moat surrounding Cinderella Castle at Disney’s Magic Kingdom on Aug. 11, 1977. Joel Goode climbed over a fence around the five-foot deep moat, fell in and died. Goode’s mother sued Magic Kingdom for negligence, claiming the fence around the moat was too short (no higher than 31 inches tall, according to the plaintiff’s lawyer). According to the Daytona Beach Morning Journal, the case was tossed out on Oct. 8, 1981 when the presiding judge ruled the mother “failed in her duty to control the child of tender years.” In December 1982, the 5th District Court of Appeals ruled Goode’s mother could sue Walt Disney World and she filed a suit for $4 million. Jurors awarded her a total of $1.5 million dollars after deciding she was 50 percent at fault for the incident, according to the Ocala Star-Banner.


  • On July 5, 2009 two trains in the same Disney monorail line crashed at about 2 a.m. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, The agency cited a “shop panel operator’s failure” to switch over a track from the Epcot line to the Magic Kingdom express line. This resulted in the Monorail Pink train backing into Monorail Purple at the Ticket and Transportation Center. Monorail Purple pilot Austin Wuennenberg, 21, died at the scene. The NTSB also cited “Walt Disney World’s lack of standard operating procedures leading to an unsafe practice when reversing trains on its monorail system” as one of probable causes of the accident. OSHA proposed a $44,000 penalty against Walt Disney World for the incident, but ultimately reduced it to $35,200 following an appeal by the company.


  • On April 1, 2010, 11-year-old Chase Brubaker of St. Petersburg, Florida died after being hit by a bus at Disney’s Wilderness Resort. The Florida Highway Patrol reported two children were riding bicycles on the sidewalk along a roadway when Brubaker biked off the sidewalk, “struck the side of the bus and then was subsequently pulled underneath the bus and run over by the bus.” The 11-year-old girl riding with the victim and 28 passengers on the bus were not hurt in the accident. Officials also said there was no evidence the the bus driver, David Russel Rich, 56, a 30-year Disney employee at time, was impaired or driving recklessly.