When Fun Went Wrong

Gill is back to wish us all a happy amusement park season. If you’re heading out to enjoy some fun over the next few months, hopefully you don’t wind up suffering the same fate as any of these poor folks. We need readers. We also care about your safety. Yes, we most definitely care about your safety. Over and above anything else, to be sure. There. You can stop punching me now, Carin.


For much of the world’s population summer’s here, and often that can only mean one thing. Time to go for thrills and chills at the amusement or water park. Most days spent there are fun with little more to show than sunburns, family and friend memories made, and even the occasional vomit off a high speed ride. Sadly, some of these trips end in ambulance rides or fatalities.

  1. Take Her to the lightning – At a Massachusetts amusement park called Revere Beach a ride called the Lightning got a reputation as a quick abortion device in the 1920’s. This predated safety standards, and many a fun day an unwanted pregnancy was ended here with its many bumps and jars.

    Note from Steve: It was part of a group of rides known as the Giant Cyclone Safety Coasters, a name it kept even after taking its first victim by day two.

  2. Banned after 1930 – On July 24 1930 a ride called The big Dipper crashed killing four and injuring seventeen. After the accident, the Omaha city council banned wooden roller coasters from the city, a ban which stands to this day.
  3. Curse of the big dipper – We hop across the pond and jump ahead four decades to West London England. Some of our older British readers may even remember Battersea Park, opened 1951 closed 1974. On what was supposed to be a day of fun and frolic in May 1972, a ride also known as the Big Dipper carrying dozens of children lost control and slammed into another section of train, killing five and injuring many more.
  4. Three Dead In Edmonton – In the mid 1980’s, at one of the most amazing malls in the world, the mindbender, which had been declared safe just one day earlier, jumped the tracks in front of a horrified concert crowd. Three lives were lost, and many more changed.
  5. Traction park and grave pool- From 1978-1998, Vernon, New Jersey’s Action Park got a reputation for fatalities, broken bones, and lawsuits. Action Park saw three drownings in what would come to be known as The Grave Pool, one electrocution, and two deadly events involving the slides. The employees were often drunk, high, or otherwise unqualified.

My Experience

I was born with a congenital heart condition, but on a sunny day in 1991 that did not seem to phase me. My sister, who belonged to a local figure skating club, was gifted tickets to an amusement park called Canada’s Wonderland. Opened in 1981, it boasts water slides, roller coasters, and loads of other fun stuff. My sister and I each brought friends from the neighborhood, and since my dad had to work that day my mom was running the show. My friend and I rode several rides, and were having great fun. She suggested we go on this one ride called Saloco. It looked alright from what I could see, just several cars going around a track. I was so very wrong. It started going up. No problem yet. But then it got to maximum height and started turning on its side. Needless to say, when I got off I was white as a ghost, shaking, and feeling pain in my chest. Now, for the most part, my amusement park experience involves holding people’s stuff and a whole lot of walking.

Thought

In researching this article I have come to the conclusion that although safety standards have improved and people seem to have a better understanding of hiring practices, one must always follow something my mom says. “If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.”

Question

What’s your scariest water slide, amusement park, or carnival experience?

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