How many people have died at Walt Disney World

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I think this most recent death, while tragic, needs to be understood with in the context of time. While it seems like there has been death after death at Walt Disney World there have been only nine deaths in three years (source, Orlando Sentinel) and 15 deaths since 1989 (source, the AP). Even more importantly, in none of these deaths was Disney found at fault (although there is some debate over the deaths of two cast member and changes were made subsequently) and many of them were as the result of pre-existing conditions.

Who can say what an acceptable level is, and for the family affected, nothing is acceptable, but 15 deaths in 16 years for a place the size of Manhattan is really a remarkable record of safety.

The Orlando Sentinel does pick up on an area where Disney could improve. The availability of automatic external defibrillators or AEDs.

Portable defibrillators, called automatic external defibrillators,
determine whether a heart is quivering without pumping blood and will
automatically shock it to try to restore a normal beating pattern. The
procedure is not always successful.

The availability of portable defibrillators at Walt Disney World
became an issue earlier this month when a wrongful-death lawsuit was
filed by the parents of a child who died last year after riding
Mission: Space at Epcot.

There were AEDs available at Disney-MGM Studios, just none at Rock ‘n’ Roller coaster. The autopsy will help us know if it would have made a difference in the 12-year old boys death, but it seems like the AEDs should be stationed nearest the most extreme attractions.

Update: The Sentinel has updated their site with a chart listing the last seven deaths after experiencing an attraction at Disney World. However, I don’t think they should count the first one. The child died while waiting in line for Space Mountain. If they count that one then they should count the pool drowning at the Coronado Springs Hotel.


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