Theme parks are designed to capture the attention of not only locals, but tourists worldwide, but they can sometimes attract attention for the wrong reasons, as evidenced by the 7 worst Six Flags accidents, which frighten the public into questioning the safety of theme park rides, which are glorified for their speed, height, and the general insanity of their tracks.
Companies such as Six Flags Entertainment Corp (NYSE:SIX) attract thousands of people each month, particularly those who are on vacation, or those seeking a fun-packed day out with the family. And although serious injuries are not common at theme parks, which delight over 300 million people annually, accidents are bound to happen, sometimes due to negligence, other times simply due to bad luck or malfunctioning rides. At other times, the victims are sadly at fault, often for entering restricted, dangerous areas and being struck by rides.
2016 was a particularly traumatic year for the industry, as a spate of accidents occurred at different parks within a short span of time last August, which included a 10-year-old boy dying on a water slide in Kansas, a 6-year-old girl suffering a traumatic brain injury when she fell from a ferris wheel in Tennessee, and a 3-year-old boy falling from a roller coaster in Pennsylvania.
For investors of public companies like Six Flags, such accidents can also loom over their investments, raising fears that the bad publicity will lead to a decrease in visitors, which in turn sends shares sinking. It’s surely no coincidence that Six Flags shares had their worst month of the year in August, sliding by over 13%, which marred an otherwise solid year for the stock, which gained nearly 10% in 2016.
Considering the investment that goes into some of these parks, which can easily top $100 million, as seen in this list of the 11 Most Expensive Theme Parks Ever Built, there is a real risk of severe losses should an accident diminish the park’s appeal and lead to a decrease in foot traffic. That reality certainly provides the impetus for companies to ensure their safety standards are of the highest quality.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the 7 worst Six Flags accidents, including a death in 2013, uncovering some of the unfortunate ways that a day of unbridled fun can morph into one of sadness and regret.