What Are Your Odds Of Being Injured By A Theme Park Ride?

Supermodel Fabio and an unfortunate goose made history on March 30, 1999 in Virginia when they collided in mid-air while Fabio was riding the Busch Gardens Williamsburg's new roller coaster, Apollo's Chariot. Fabio was left with a brutalized face but was otherwise alright. The goose tragically was killed in the incident, according to Williamsburg Yorktown Daily. While this may be one of the most well-known documented incidents of a person being injured while riding a theme park ride, it's far from being the only one.

According to the U.S. Product Safety Commission, in 2019, there were an estimated 1,299 injuries from ride-related accidents in amusement parks around the United States, or 3.7 injuries per one million visitors. Many people walk around in fear of amusement park rides and Hollywood has even utilized this fear against moviegoers with iconic scenes like that in the 2006 film "Final Destination 3." While thrill seekers may love them, the fear of roller coasters and theme park rides, in general, is understandable, especially since one of their goals is to bring at least a small amount of it. However, what are the actual chances of someone being injured while riding on one of these terrifyingly fun contraptions?

Some amusement parks were notoriously dangerous

There are 475 theme parks in the United States, according to Vox. This means that there's plenty of opportunity for games, snacks, and even rides. Not all theme parks are created equal, however, and accidents can happen anywhere. Even at Disney parks, there have been recorded incidents. In 2020, an 86-year-old guest injured themselves while exiting a ride and a 74-year-old guest fractured their leg when boarding the famous Jungle Cruise ride, according to BMW Law Group.

While these cases may seem mild to some, there is another theme park with even more disturbing incidents that existed and made a name for itself as the most dangerous amusement park. With over 75 rides, including 40 waterslides and 32 motorized attractions, Action Park in New Jersey had dozens of injuries reported. Between 1984 and 1985 alone, there were twenty-six head injuries and fourteen broken bones, according to BMW Law Group. There were even fatalities that occurred at the park, with the first happening in 1980 when someone fell off the Alpine Slide, according to Method Shop. Action Park closed in 1996 when the owners of the park were found guilty of insurance fraud per the state of New Jersey, though its infamy and knack for disaster are still well-known today.

Theme park fatalities are much less common than injuries, but they do happen

In 2016, there were 1,253 ride-related injuries that took place in stationary amusement parks, according to BMW Law Group. However, stationary amusement parks aren't alone when it comes to ride-related injuries. Mobile fairs and carnival rides have seen their fair share of dark days as well. A West Virginia woman was badly injured in 2016 when she fell from a ride at the county fair after an equipment malfunction, per NBC Washington. The most common ride injuries, though, are to the arm, face, and leg, according to a study done by Nationwide Children's Hospital in 2013, and 18% of injuries were caused by hitting or being hit by something on a ride.

While most of the ride-related injuries are non-fatal, that's not always the case. Fatalities at amusement parks do happen, and not just at the notorious Action Park either. In 2008, a teenager was decapitated by a roller coaster at Six Flags Over Georgia when they entered a zone that was dangerous to park guests, according to NBC News, and, in 2013, a woman died after falling from a coaster in Six Flags Over Texas per BMW Law Group.

The odds of being injured or killed by a theme-park ride are slim, but never zero

So what exactly are the odds of being injured by a ride at an amusement park? The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) has reported that the odds of being seriously injured on an amusement park ride in the United States are 1 in 15.5 million rides taken. If you aren't someone who favors roller coasters and theme park rides but enjoy other parts of the excitement, you still aren't out of the danger zone. An article published in How Stuff Works states that there's a 1 in 257,826 chance of being injured at an amusement park.

These dark secrets of theme parks and the odds of returning home with some sort of injury or not returning at all might seem slim to some and too big of a risk for others. Still, either way, amusement parks were created to spread joy and guest safety is taken very seriously. Parks like Six Flags even included a statement on its website letting visitors know that the park inspects the rides in its parks daily to ensure the well-being of everyone. As far as things outside of anyone's control, such as geese? Hopefully, the odds are in everyone's favor that a goose doesn't fly into the path of a high-speed ride filled with park-goers.