Amusement Park Workers Share Their Horror Stories
Amusement parks are meant to be some of the happiest places in the world. Just imagine: the yummy foods that have loads of calories (but you simply can’t resist) paired with silly games and exciting rides. But, for the people who actually work there, things are often a lot less fun. These employees have had to deal with some serious horror stories, accidents that happened, annoying children and their even more irritating parents….
Amid the horror, though, there’s definitely a good time to be had…as long as you use some common sense. Keep in mind some easy to remember tips, like not eating before a rollercoaster, learning to be patient in lines, and remembering to listen to the people in charge at parks (they’re there for a reason, people). After all, things could turn out much worse, like these stories shared by amusement park workers.
What’s for Breakfast Then?
I work with special needs adults. We took them to Knot’s Berry Farm. We took them to IHOP for breakfast (this is the foreshadowing). One of the guys is a big eater; he actually ate two breakfasts that day. We went to the park, and after a few slower rides, everyone went on a steep roller coaster with this guy in the front row….
The coaster climbed, and he began to feel sick. The coaster crested and began to plummet. You just use your imagination to picture what happened next, or rather, don’t. Everyone got to know what he had for breakfast that morning. The scene of the car arriving at the bottom was the single funniest thing Ive ever seen; it was worth it. Reddit User: itsgoodtobemike
The Worst Kind of Tourists
The one time I went to Universal Studios not as an employee, but as a visitor, and there was this mad group of tourists. It was the worst experience at a theme park I’ve ever had. They were arguing, blocking all the passages, pushing people out of the way, and even trying to steal items from the gift shops….
They also kept talking to each other on walkie talkies throughout the shows that they were watching. It gets worse, though; they walked into one of the restaurants and sat down at a table that was empty but hadn’t been cleared up yet by the servers. They then proceeded to start eating the food that was left on the table. Reddit User: Drunken_Black_Belt
A Real Theme Park Horror Movie
I once got screamed at by one of our Russian visitors at the theme park. He also told me I was an untrained lady of the night because I work at a studio where people dress up, and I was dressed as a saloon girl. There were about fifty people crammed into the space, so it was really embarrassing to have him say that….
To make matters worse, later on, we had a hail storm in the park. Everyone started screaming and running. The lights were flickering, and all of the rides ended up being shut down. The babies people had with them were also crying, and it really looked like something straight out of some kind of horror movie. Never again. Reddit User: regalia13
Didn’t Find What She Was Looking For
I worked at Six Flags for three years in a management position and, as a result, have so many stories about this kind of thing. One of my favorites has to be when security found a 40-year-old woman wandering around the park at 3 am one day. A park sweep is done every night to ensure that no one’s left inside, so she must have sneaked in….
She was obviously off her rocker or intoxicated, because when asked what she was doing in the park at that time of the night, she simply responded with, “I’m looking for the Dave Matthews Band” over and over again. Security ended up escorting her out of the park, and that was the end of it. I hope she found what she was looking for eventually. Reddit User: Mool212
Always Look Left And Right
Back in the day, I worked selling tickets at a county fair for a couple of summers. One time, one of the ride operators stepped in front of a kiddie rollercoaster that was designed to look like a worm, known as The Wacky Worm. I guess he was trying to step to the other side of the track or something….
But he miscalculated where the rollercoaster was at that point in time, and he was struck by the rollercoaster. He took a seriously hard knock to his legs, and I’m pretty sure they were broken. We got him off the track as soon as possible, so the kids on the ride didn’t get too scared, and the manager waited with him until the ambulance arrived. Always look left and right, kids. Reddit User: ghostwrite_the_quip
No Thanks for a Good Deed
I worked for two theme parks in my time: Six Flags and also another regional park. I had many adventures, from kicking people off rides to really naughty kids who should have been disciplined by their parents (who were, of course, nowhere to be found). There was also the time Six Flags wrote me up for administering first aid to a girl who passed out from heat exhaustion….
She had passed out right in the middle of the midway. Apparently, I was supposed just to leave her there until the EMTs arrived. I had “misused” company property by giving the poor girl a bottle of water to sip on until help arrived to keep herself cool since it was clear what was wrong with her. I can live with myself though. Reddit User: Drunken_Black_Belt
Sometimes You Just Can’t Help People
One of my favorite calls on the job was for an EMT to come to inspect a woman who wasn’t feeling well at the regional family park where I worked. This park gave away free soda to patrons. The EMT and I arrived on scene with this huge woman who looked like she was about to die from the heat and dizziness….
We asked the woman if she had any medical issues we should be aware of. She told us that she didn’t. So the EMT gets to work, and after a while, the woman goes, “Well, I do have diabetes. And I’ve been drinking soda all day.” When we asked her why she would drink it if she had diabetes, she replied, “Well, it’s free.” Reddit User: Drunken_Black_Belt
You Pick: Lights or the Rides
I used to work at a theme park in my hometown. This one time, we had a major storm sweeping through the area. It ended up causing all sorts of problems around the town. It knocked over street lights, display cases, blew the theme park prizes all over the place, and even ended up putting a hole in one of our wooden rollercoasters….
For a whole week after the storm, the park I worked at was unable to operate at night. This was because the generators the park had installed only had enough power to run the rides. You couldn’t have the rides on and the lights at the same time. If anyone is scared of a creepy theme park, that’s exactly what I was living. Reddit User: Mool212
Leave Him to the Dinosaurs
I worked at a little kiddies theme park, and there was a dinosaur ride; it looked like something out of the Flintstones, I’d say. One of the kids who was on a really slow ride ended up losing his hat in the water that was next to it. He ended up jumping in the water and crossing the ride tracks to grab it. How his mother let him do that, I’ll never know….
When he got to his hat, there were two pretend dinosaurs in the water. He started screaming and crying at them, and his parents didn’t do anything. I had to stop the ride and climb into the water (and, of course, I was wearing long pants that day) to try and get this child away from the park’s property. The parents didn’t say anything, not even thank you. Should have let the pretend dinos eat the kid. Reddit User: NefariousStray
When the Adults Act Like Kids
I worked at Busch Gardens for a quite while and have a bunch of examples of horror stories at amusement parks. First off, the guests would feed the birds and then get attacked by birds because they were trying to get the free food. At this point, I just pointed my finger to the “do not feed the birds” sign….
Other things like adults attempting to fit on the kid rides, which included planes and trains. Also, really annoying was when people climbed over the fences in ride restricted areas (and just so you know, some rides can’t be stopped even if you get in the way of them…like a rollercoaster, for example!). Also, you need to watch adults more than kids at amusement parks. Reddit User: [redacted]
Using Your Job to Your Advantage
I used to work in the attractions department of a zoo, so it’s kind of like an amusement park because we had a few rides in there too. One of the big parts of my job was to operate the rides there. One of these said rides was a mini roller coaster, which always required two staff in order to operate it….
One person had to push the button to start/stop the coaster, and the other staff member had to check the safety restraints of the riders. On really slow days at the zoo, the staff would take turns riding the roller coaster themselves, and sometimes, if a random family came up, we would even let them ride two or three times for free. Not a horror story, but a great memory! Reddit User: ADDled_mind
The Trick of Magic Water
While I didn’t work at a theme park, I thought I could definitely contribute a great story. I frequented Six Flags Great America when I had a season pass one summer. This is a tip that worked then, but I’m not sure if it works now, and it sure isn’t a horror story but instead a very well kept secret….
I would get free Mountain Dew or Sprite by asking them for “magic water.” This apparently was a code among all the employees. I happened to know another person who was working there that summer, and they were a really great friend to pass along this tip. Maybe find out from a friend if they’re working there what the code is now. Reddit User: rubylanephotography
The Real Nightmare of Theme Parks: The Parents
At the park I worked at one year, it was soon after the Jurassic Park movie release. The little kids always wanted to know where we kept the dinosaurs, so as an employee, we used to have a lot of fun messing with them. We used to tell the kids that we breed all the dinosaurs on a faraway island….
This, of course, isn’t true. The stories we came up with were brilliant, and we even told kids that we had another island just for research a few miles away. The horror story came in when we had to deal with the parents who weren’t impressed that their kids were now nagging them to take them to the imaginary dinosaur research facility that was “close by.” We also got a speaking to from our manager. Reddit User: [redacted]
The Wicked Ways of Cruella Deville
I worked at Disneyland as a face character. Yes, one of those fun animal costumes. One woman always came to take a picture with her Flat Stanley that was dressed as Josh Groban. With actual chest hair, working with Cruella Deville sometimes was the best. She would tell the kids awful things when their parents weren’t looking. I almost broke character every time….
We would also jump on rides during our sets as the characters so that we didn’t have to deal with autographs and the dirty kids who were running around. The best would be having dirty martinis on our lunch break at the Grand California. Horribly great times, that’s what I would call them. Is there a better way to describe it? Reddit User: [redacted]
Scaring People Sober
I worked at Universal Hollywood for a bit. I first was an actor for horror nights, then entertainment, and then as a show costumer. We had this vodka that was actually intended to be used for cleaning the materials, but we would have shots of it instead. It was always more fun scaring people with a shot or two in your system….
The horror of the story came when our manager discovered what we had been doing; we should have used the old fill up the bottle with water trick. We kept asking for more for cleaning, and that was our first mistake. The true horror came soon after when we had to do the scaring of people in a completely sober state. Reddit User: [redacted]
The Real Bumper Cars
As a rider operator, I had so many stupid guests. I had one guy try to climb onto the top of a ski gondola car and put his beer bottle up there. He was about 40’ in the air. I mean, how stupid can you get? We also had lots of people trying to get their kids on rides that they were obviously way too small to be on….
I once had a short person who got annoyed at me for not letting him on the bumper cars. He was about 4” too short. We also definitely could make the bumper cars go faster, but no, we won’t do that for you. We instead crank them up during employee parties and double the normal speed. You really have to be careful not to actually crash then; it can get intense. Reddit User: kenny_boy019
Cinderella Can Be Ugly Too
There was this one time that Chevy Chase screamed at me for not seating him at a “highly visible” table at Cinderella’s Royal Table at Walt Disney World. This is the restaurant in the castle. We moved him and his family to the largest table in the middle of the room. Several people flocked to him, asking him for his autograph….
While I was filling water glasses at his table, he grabbed my arm and screamed at me again, telling me to keep all of the “poor, sweaty, fat people” away from him. Later on, I decided to make a little mistake. This involved me “accidentally” spilling his drink all over him. I profusely apologized, but in my mind, I was thinking how much he deserved it. Reddit User: mrsrazzlee
The Legend of the Giant Squirrel
I worked at Six Flags for a while. When I worked there, there was actually a giant squirrel that lived in what used to be known as Wiggle’s World. We used to have so much fun trying to spot him. We used to use our ride phones to give the word and report if there had been a sighting of this giant squirrel….
We would take tallies of the times we had seen it too. That’s kind of it for my story; not a horror story, I know. Oh, and we also got to play on the bumper cars every morning in order to “test” them out and make sure they were working. It was a great time working there compared to so many other horror stories I’ve heard from employees. Reddit User: latepostdaemon
Taking Control of the Track
Wow, there are so many stories to share, but I have some from the days when I used to work at my local putt-putt course. We also had an arcade there and also some batting cages. I was in charge of managing the go-karts. We were pretty run down at the time, and I only had a few customers that would occasionally come in….
When they did come, I would let them completely take over the track and do whatever they wanted to. I would even let them go around the track the wrong way; it wasn’t like it could get much worse. I then also used to spray water on this one area of the track and let people practice doing 180s in their go-karts. Luckily, nothing ever went wrong. Reddit User: kylesfromspace
A Missing Person Report Gone Funny
I worked emergency dispatch for a large theme park in Virginia. We dealt with a lot of lost kid reports. The worst was a woman who called to report her son missing. He wasn’t answering his phone, so I was taking his description. Fifteen years old, black hair, brown eyes, and then I asked what he was wearing. She had no clue, so she described every possible combination….
When the report was done, I asked for her location so I could report back to reunite them. She was in Ohio. Her son was on vacation without her and she wanted to check on him. I had to explain to her that I was not going to search for a teenage boy with black hair and brown eyes to ask if he’s lost. She screamed at me and said she couldn’t believe this is how we treat customers. It’s not my responsibility to babysit your kid. Reddit User: swingsetninja
A High Ponytail Won’t Do the Trick
I worked at Legoland Windsor, which is located in England. I was there for three summers between attending university. There’s only a finite number of times that you can tell parents that their less than 1-year-old babies can’t go on several of the faster rides like the Pirate Ship and other roller coasters without sounding sarcastic and blunt. They think holding them is safe enough….
I got told once that I was a “short-ist” by a child’s parent because I wouldn’t let his kid go on the ride (she was way too short, and her Dad had tied her hair up trying to making it really high like Pebbles from the Flintstones…). I’m 5′ 1″, so I found it rather amusing being told that I’m unfair to short people. Trust me; if tying your hair up really high counted towards your height, I would have done that years ago. Reddit User: abbyoxc
Sparks Are Flying on the Track
I worked at a very big park one summer. The carts were all limited on how fast they could go by the length of the throttle cable, but it was very easy to tie a string to the engine and weave it through the plastic body, so we had a few carts that would go extra fast if you pulled the string hidden down in the frame. The mechanics also had a few toy cars; one had two engines, one for each rear wheel, and two gas pedals….
Stomp on one while letting off the other and it would spin it right around hairpins at full speed. They had another that could hit probably 60mph; these aren’t racing karts either, so that was pretty fun. To run it on the tracks, you’d never be able to take corners that fast, so we drove to the outside of the turn, put the steel of the bumper ring around the cart against the steel wall on the track’s edge, and went right around. Reddit User: haftonburger
Not the Broken Boat
I used to work at a local mini theme park in my town for a little while. We had these old bumper boats. They were really not in good condition and always ended up dying with paying customers inside of them. We always got a talking to from the customers, and nothing was ever done about them to improve the experience….
But, one night, there was a little kid in one of these boats, and of course, the engine ended up dying. I then had to crawl into the boat to try and restart the engine. When I did, I proceeded to pull the cable back and smack the girl in the face with my elbow. It was no longer the broken boat that was causing the customers to be frustrated. Reddit User: PickleJarss
Waiting for Hours for a Ride
I’m not a worker at an amusement park, but one year I went to a theme park on a senior class trip. A few of my friends and I waited a few hours just to get onto one of the major roller coasters. We had been waiting for the entire day for this moment, as it was all the hype during the time we went on the trip….
We were literally the next people in line when suddenly the ride was shut down. It was all thanks to a little kid who’d been too scared on the ride and had let go of his bladder. We then had to wait a whole other hour for the maintenance crew to clean it up. It was worth it, and I understood why that kid did what he did. Reddit User: s317sv17vnv
A Misplaced Item Causing Misplaced Anger
This wasn’t me, but one time I was too chicken to go up a ride with my friends. I stayed chatting with one of the workers, and her sole job was to hang by the ride’s entrance and ask people not to go in with their bags. I asked her about the no-bag policy, and she told me that people used to steal the bags from the lockers….
Anyway, this one time, the wife of a politician realized her bag was missing after a ride. She made a huge fuss, and the entire park went into lockdown and closed. Police got involved, and some of the employees were taken to rooms to be intimidated and interrogated. One girl was even strip-searched. The bag later turned up on a completely different ride. Reddit User: permanentthrowaway
Deserted in an Empty Amusement Park
I was working as a security guard at a theme park back when I was eighteen. On one particular evening, one of the rollercoasters that stopped in the station ended up getting rear-ended by another. Thank goodness there were no severe injuries, but there were still some people who got a little bit hurt from the accident….
I did, however, end up staying up all night after the park had closed, sitting on the coaster to ensure no lookie-loos or news media tried to get access to the cars. It was dark, and it was creepy. I was 18 years old in a closed and deserted amusement park. I think I win for amusement park worker horror stories. Reddit User: wired89
Swimming by the Rules
I used to be a lifeguard at a water park with a bunch of slides. Some of them required a height check. Our supervisors told us that even if a child was 1/16” too short, they couldn’t ride. It was really frustrating because some of the lifeguards let kids that weren’t tall enough go on slides. This led to me getting a reputation….
When I turned kids away, parents would get angry and say, “Oh, we get the mean lifeguard now.” “The last one let them ride!” I loved when they reported me to the supervisor because then I got praised for enforcing rules. If a kid was exactly 48”, they could go get measured at the office and would be given a wristband to clear them. Reddit User: 69unicorn
Closing Down the Rides
A huge storm was coming where I work and live. I was operating the railroad at the time. Unfortunately, we left the station right before they were able to call us to close the ride. So, as we were on our way, suddenly there was a huge downpour. Upon arriving at the station, we were immediately directed to an employee shelter….
Now, this is where even more of the interesting stuff happened. People were stranded at the station away from the entrance, wanting to ride back. I had specifically warned that the ride could close at any time before people boarded. We were told that we couldn’t suggest any shelter because that would make the park responsible. What a night. Reddit User: Kdog0073
A Heart-Stopping Summer
I worked for one summer at a Nascar speed park, and it was probably the craziest summer of my life. There were so many injuries, but nothing ever happened. When working the go-kart tracks, if there was a wreck, you were expected to run across the tracks dodging cars and unlodge the stuck car all before more cars zoomed past….
The worst day, though, was on the Fourth of July watching a man having a heart attack because I was the first person to get to the car when it stopped and had to wait with him until an ambulance showed up. It was a seriously scary moment, but luckily the ambulance was quick on arrival. I still think about him today. Reddit User: Purpleandahalf
Two Real Horror Stories
I worked at a large amusement park in the Tampa Bay area. Two stories from my time there come to mind. The roller coaster I worked on had no floors, and someone’s change from the front row fell out of their pocket and hit the person in the back row near their eye. The coaster came back with a lady bawling and blood all over her face….
We have rules in place for a reason people, and it’s not just for your safety, it’s for the safety of other people as well. The second story was that someone showed us what they had for lunch all over our elevator in 100 degree heat. There was also no air on. Let’s just say I drew the short straw on cleaning that up. Reddit User: InaneMumbling
Better Keep Your Mouth Shut Next Time
I worked at an amusement park where one of our goals was to guest relate as much as possible. One day, a kid told me hello after looking at my nametag. The name wasn’t correct except for the first letter. I was having a pretty rough day, and I probably took it out on this kid more than I usually would have….
I then replied half-heartedly, without even really thinking or looking at the child properly, “Can you read, man?” His mother then stepped in at this point and told me that her kid was blind in one eye. I meant to apologize for what I had said but ended up making it worse. I asked, “Oh, he is?” It was a girl. Reddit User: SharpReel
It’s a Hit or Miss
There once was an idiot guy who kept putting tokens into the batting cage machine at the park where I worked. The ball would come out of the machine; he’d take a swing at the ball and of course end up missing the ball completely. This wasn’t what I was worried about, because it was clear that would happen….
He then proceeded to bend over and pick up the ball that he missed. He then was hit in the side of the head by a baseball flying at him at a speed of 65 MPH, and he was not wearing a helmet. He then took the company to the court about it, and his argument was based on the fact that he says he didn’t know there would be more than one ball. Reddit User: shortadamlewis
Too Good to Be Made Up
I worked at a kid’s theme park about five or six years ago. I wasn’t there when this happened, but there are meerkats at the park as one of the attractions we offered. One woman decided it would be a good idea to help her young child lean over the enclosure with the meerkats inside it to get a better look….
Well, the kid was bitten by the meerkat. When the mum pulled her kid away from the nibbling meerkat, it didn’t let go and held onto the child’s hand as they lifted it out of the enclosure. So we had a bleeding young child, an escaped meerkat, and to top everything off, the mother had a heart attack. You can’t make this stuff up. Reddit User: notheOTHERboleyngirl
Bye-Bye to the Boats
Well, at my park, we had these duck-themed paddle boats. The late-night shifts made this particularly scary. Anyway, I was working the ducks and tied up all the boats and went to check out, but I forgot the ride register, so I went back to get it. When I got there, two of the boats had drifted out into the middle of the lake….
I figured it was just that I messed up the knots, so I had to get my manager so he could use the motorboat to go and get them. He just looked at me dead on and said, “Leave them alone” and checked me out. The next day those two boats were gone and replaced with spares we had. I know it sounds like a really bad horror story, but it’s probably the scariest experience I’ve had. Reddit User: TheHypercriticalOne
Losing Faith in Humanity
It really is true that adults are way worse than the kids at amusement parks. I’ve never worked at one, but my sister has, and the stories she’s told our family are just ridiculous. She always worked at our local amusement park during the summer for years and years, so she’s seen her fair share. The employees would rotate their jobs through the rides….
The carousel was everyone’s least favorite ride because people would be so insanely hostile about the ride. They had to call security on adults fighting over which horse they wanted to ride multiple times a day almost every day. That job destroyed her faith in humanity, and I think it would have done the same to mine. Reddit User: CaseyBergProductions
Sharing Your Lunch
I used to work at an amusement park, and let’s just say that you couldn’t pay me enough money to do it again…ever in my life. I was in charge of managing some of the bigger roller coasters, so you would often get bratty teenagers who constantly moaned about how long the lines were taking. Then one day, the big ride broke down, and people had to wait for even longer….
While I was explaining to some people in earshot what had happened and that it would be a while to fix, two teenage boys decided to share their lunch with me. I’m not talking about offering me a bite of their hot dogs; I’m talking about full-on missile launching them at me before running off and shouting how stupid the ride was anyway. Reddit User: [redacted]
Fun Times at the Amusement Park
When I worked at a park, I was in charge of making sure that the safety mechanisms were working before the ride took off. Yes, it sounds very important, right? This involved checking the restraints on the roller coasters and making sure everyone was clipped in properly. I once slammed a sliding door restraint on a kid’s head, accidentally, of course….
This happened because they were trying to get out of the wrong end and stuck their head out. I opened up their cage as his head was stuck out of a small gap and slammed it right into his head. I asked if he was ok, and he said yes before running off. I then saw him burst into tears when he reached his parents; fun times. Reddit User: Jugglethe1st
Flying Off the Rail
I worked at an amusement park about 10-15 years ago. They had just replaced the cars for a rollercoaster, and they had some problems. Several times, a wheel just flew off of one of the cars. We would have to rush there to place fences and search for the lost wheel. If I were a customer, I would have never come back….
The thing is that you think you’re pretty safe in an amusement park if you obey the rules and meet the height restrictions, but even there, weird accidents can happen. My biggest thing is that the owners of these places should keep a really close eye on their equipment to make sure things like wheels don’t go flying off. Reddit User: Blleh
The Upside Down Rescue Mission
When I was a young boy, my family went to the local carnival. It was nothing too amazing, mostly just booths and a tent. They only had three large rides. The usual tilt-a-whirl, Ferris wheel, and among them a roller coaster-type ride that was just one loop. The idea here was that you would climb in, and the ride would go back and forth and sometimes make a full loop….
However, this night, the sucker got stuck at the top. My little mind couldn’t wrap around it all fully, but it was packed with people who had to sit for about an hour until a rescue could be properly done. A long time later, I learned that no one was harmed, but while still young, I always wondered where that thing went to in the upcoming years. Reddit User: Atlusfox
Bad Parents: The Real Deal
I worked in an amusement park during my teens. I was in the area that had rides for younger children, many of which the parents could accompany them on. Without a doubt, the parents were the worst thing about working there. The number of parents that would find any and all reason to complain and moan because they knew if they did it enough, they would get free tickets or a refund….
The kids were amazing and excited to get on the rides, but the parents were horrible. The number of fights between grown adults that I’ve had to break up is insane, and the number of parents that yelled at me because their little Billy didn’t get the blue plane still makes me angry. I once had this Keegan Michael look-alike jump the safety barrier and confront me because his kid started crying because I made him sit beside his brother. Reddit User: Blade2587