The Real Reason These Amusement Park Rides Were Shut Down

Amusement parks draw customers in with exciting rides, but sometimes these attractions go terribly wrong. From people falling out of rollercoaster seats to complicated financial woes, there’s plenty of mishaps that can cause ride shutdowns. Keep reading to find out the real reason your favorite amusement park rides were closed.

Dragon Challenge Lost Popularity After A Rider Lost An Eye

Jeff Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeff Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Dragon Challenge opened in 1999 at Universal’s Island of Adventure in Orlando, Florida. The ride consisted of two coasters that would duel on another. The problem is that numerous guests were hit with loose items from the other train.

This caused one rider to experience an injury so serious that he had to have an eye removed! After that incident, the coasters stopped dueling and no items rule led to riders waiting in long locker lines. The inconvenience led to the ride being closed in 2017.

A Rider Fatally Struck His Head On Galaxie

Galaxie opened at Kings Dominion, an amusement park in Virginia, in 1975. Though the ride was successful enough to last several years, it was closed after the 1983 season when a rider suffered fatal head injuries.

The rider leaned out to one side of the coaster train and hit his head on metal supports, leading to his death. Park officials confirmed that the accident was not a result of ride malfunctions, though they ultimately dismantled and sold the ride.

Catapult Closed After One Of The Cables Snapped

catapult
Jeremy Thompson, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Jeremy Thompson, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Catapult was a ride at Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park in Wisconsin that consisted of a ball-shaped metal cage attached to two cables. The cables would be pulled down for riders to board and then set free, launching them into the air.

The thrilling ride closed in 2015 after one of the cables suddenly snapped! Fortunately, it did so right before the ride started, leaving those on board unharmed. A video of the incident went viral, but the theme park managed to survive the fright.

A Steel Tower Collapsed On VertiGo

VertiGo opened at both Cedar Point and Knott’s Berry Farm in 2001. It was similar to a catapult ride in that it featured towers connected to cables that would stretch to slingshot the seats up and down.

The ride had three towers that were exposed to such high winds that they would oscillate. This is what led to one of the towers ultimately falling at Cedar Point. Fortunately, the incident happened in an off season so no one was hurt. However, it did lead to the ride being shut down at both locations.

Verrückt Was Shuttered After A Rider Was Fatally Injured

Verrückt was known for being the tallest waterslide in existence, standing at over 168 feet! Riders would reach speeds of 70 miles per hour, which presented a serious challenge in terms of safety.

The insane ride opened at Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City in the summer of 2014. It closed two years later when a rider suffered a fatal injury. It was later revealed that other riders had also suffered injuries from hitting the netting above the slide.

Haunted Castle Was Destroyed In A Fire

haunted-castle
@karideeta/Pinterest
@karideeta/Pinterest

Haunted Castle opened up in 1978 at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson Township, New Jersey. Though it was initially going to only be open at night, popularity extended the hours into the day.

In 1984, a fire destroyed the ride and killed eight visitors. Six Flags was indicted as a result and accused of not taking enough precautions to prevent the fire. The jury found Six Flags not guilty since the fire was arson and, therefore, unavoidable.

Willard’s Whizzer Closed Due To Boarding Mishaps

Willard’s Whizzer opened at California’s Great America in 1976 and soon presented problems with the braking system. In 1980, a rider was killed before even getting to experience the ride when a train collided into him at the loading area.

A similar incident happened two years later. This time, no one was killed, but 16 people were injured. Still, it wouldn’t be until 1988 that the Willard’s Whizzer finally closed, though another version remains at Six Flags Great America in Illinois.

Drachen Fire Was Too Rough For Riders

Drachen Fire was a popular ride when it first opened at Busch Gardens Williamsburg in 1992. However, it only took a matter of weeks for the ride to gain a reputation of being too rough.

Complaints were so plentiful that they took out a corkscrew after the 1994 season in an attempt to make the ride more comfortable. Even with the change, there was low ridership due to discomfort, and someone even filed a lawsuit. Drachen Fire closed in 1998 and demolished in 2002.

Submarine Quest Had A Mysterious Closure After Poor Reviews

submarine-quest
Behind The Thrills/YouTube
Behind The Thrills/YouTube

While many rides that close had clear-cut reasons, Submarine Quest was one that left visitors scratching their heads. The ride opened at SeaWorld San Diego in 2017 but operated only intermittently after that first summer season.

Park officials would only say that that the ride was undergoing maintenance, but visitors took note that there wasn’t visual evidence of such work being performed. Submarine Quest did receive negative reviews upon opening. Ultimately, it didn’t open back up and was instead mysteriously shut down.

Disneyland’s Gullywhumper Capsized!

In 1956, Disneyland opened up Mike Fink Keel Boats. The Frontierland attraction successfully ran for decades, but it closed in 1997 when the Gullywhumper boat capsized! The Gullywhumper started rocking from side to side while going down the Rivers of America.

The boat was full of guests who were dumped into the water when it capsized. The incident caused the entire attraction to close down. The Gullywhumper later became a Rivers of America prop, appearing on Tom Sawyer Island.

Six Flags AstroWorld Closed Due To Financial Woes

crazytvporson188/YouTube
crazytvporson188/YouTube

AstroWorld opened up in 1968 as a sister attraction to the AstroDome, a Texas sports stadium that is home to the Houston Astros. Six Flags bought the theme park in the mid-’70s, but things went south after three decades of operation.

Even a giant theme park company like Six Flags couldn’t manage to keep the theme park open. Due to financial woes, they closed down all of the rides in 2005 and the park was demolished.

Derby Racer Closed After A Supreme Court Case

Built back in 1911, Derby Racer was a wooden rollercoaster on Revere Beach in Massachusetts. Shortly after opening, a rider suffered injuries after being thrown from their seat. Another rider was killed six years later after being thrown in front of a coaster train, and a couple suffered injuries from the ride several years after that.

Yet another rider was thrown from the train in 1929, resulting in a Supreme Court case. The ride closed in 1936, though a new version was built the following year before mysteriously closing a decade later.

Sand Blaster Closed After The Train Derailed

daytona
Bob & Ashley/YouTube
Bob & Ashley/YouTube

Sand Blaster was a popular ride on the Daytona Beach boardwalk in Florida, even despite failed inspections and safety-related closures. The ride had a history of electrical problems and damages to the structure.

The meager rollercoaster met its end in 2018 after a train derailed! The incident caused two riders to fall more than 30 feet to the ground! There were also eight other riders who were injured. Excessive speed and track damage were blamed for the accident.

The Enchanted Tiki Room Was Altered After A Fire

Jeff Gritchen/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images
Jeff Gritchen/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images

Tropical Serenade opened in 1971 at Magic Kingdom, a theme park located in the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. In 1998, the attraction was updated and renamed The Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management.

In 2011, a fire started in the attic of the attraction. It remained small and no guests were harmed, though the extent of the damage was kept private. A shorter version of the animatronic show later opened under the name Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room.

Son Of Beast Closed After A Woman’s Blood Vessel Burst

When Son of Beast opened at Paramount’s King Island in Ohio, it was a record-setting ride. Opened in 2000, the ride was the first wooden rollercoaster to feature a 214-foot drop and a flip, on top of its record speed.

The intensity led to some issues, including 26 injuries that resulted from a cracked beam in 2006. Three years later, a woman blamed the ride for a burst blood vessel in her brain, which led to it being shut down.

Perilous Plunge Closed After A Rider Fell Out Their Boat

perilous-plunge
_Dang_It_Bobby_/Reddit
_Dang_It_Bobby_/Reddit

Perilous Plunge became the tallest and steepest water-based amusement park attraction when it opened at Knott’s Berry Farm in 2000. It featured a 115-foot drop that riders went down in a 24-seat boat.

A year after opening, a rider fell out of the boat upon its descent, which resulting in their death. Though the incident didn’t cause the ride to close, it did cause experts to redesign the harness. Perilous Plunge was dismantled a decade later to make room for other attractions.

Action Park Closed After Several Rider Deaths

action-park
Angry0tter/Reddit
Angry0tter/Reddit

Action Park became so notorious for its unsafe rides that HBO Max even released a documentary about it in 2020, cleverly named Class Action Park. One such attraction was the Alpine Slide, which caused 14 fractions and 26 head injuries, one of which resulted in death.

Multiple rides shut down due to serious mishaps and the New Jersey park closed in 1996 after 18 years of operation. It reopened two years later after extensive renovations under the name Mountain Creek Waterpark.

Mind Scrambler Closed After Two Riders Fell From Their Seats

Walter Leporati/Getty Images
Walter Leporati/Getty Images

The scrambler is a fairly common sort of ride that consists of carts being spun around one another. Despite its common design, the Mind Scrambler at New York’s Playland took a fatal turn not once, but twice.

The first time was in 2004 when a small rider slipped out of her seat. Three years later, a woman rode without being buckled in and was thrown from the ride. An added risk factor was that Playland’s ride was in a dark tent. After the second incident, Mind Scrambler closed.

Universal Studios Florida Filed A Lawsuit Over Multiple Rides

universal-studios-florida
Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images
Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images

Universal Studios Florida opened the rides Jaws, Kongfrontation, and Earthquake: The Big One all in 1990. Each ride went on to experience a series of problems. Jaws broke down almost daily and had to be temporarily shut down.

The issues were so inconvenient that Universal Studios sued Ride & Show Engineering, Inc., which ended in a settlement. They were able to fix the rides through a different company, but all three have since been replaced by different attractions.

Steve Martin Worked At Merlin’s Magic Shop Before It Closed

steve-martin
@newbeverly/Twitter
@newbeverly/Twitter

Merlin’s Magic Shop was the original magic shop at Disneyland, opening back in 1955. Two years later, another magic shop opened on Main Street. When Fantasyland went through an overhaul in 1983, Imagineers opted to keep open only the magic shop on Main Street.

As a result, Merlin’s Magic Shop was closed. Twenty-three years before it closed, though, comedian Steve Martin got a job there! He worked at the shop for 3 years and credited the experience with helping him refine his performance skills.