Going to an amusement park with your loved ones can be a fantastic way to spend the day. Whether you’re trying to cool off at the local water park or traveling across the country to visit a well-known amusement park, there are almost certainly attractions to appeal to each family member. A Six Flags theme park in particular, is a popular destination due to their plethora of locations across the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

For the most part, major amusement and water parks are fairly safe for visitors and employees alike. Theme parks must adhere to local, state, and federal government codes and requirements, and most venues undergo routine safety inspections to ensure that attractions and rides are not dangerous.

In some cases, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) may even have the authority to fine parks with unsafe attractions or working conditions. Usually, these oversight methods are sufficient to keep amusement parks well-maintained and free of hazards.

Despite safeguards being implemented to protect visitors to Six Flags parks, there have been a number of serious injuries and even fatalities over the years. Incidents have arisen due to lax enforcement of park rules, unsafe attractions, poor employee training and communication, and a range of other factors. This article discusses how safe it is to visit Six Flags Park for a family vacation in the present day.

Six Flags Park in US
Six Flags Park in US

Recommended Safety Tips for a Safe Theme Park Experience

Before we begin reviewing Six Flags’ safety statistics over the years, we wanted to share some tips meant to keep visitors safe at any amusement park. When you and your loved ones arrive at the park, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) recommends:

  • Reviewing and following posted ride safety rules and verbal commands of park employees at all times
  • Obeying listed height, weight, health, and age restrictions for attractions
  • When on a ride, keep your limbs inside the vehicle at all times
  • Securing any loose items that may fall and cause injury to you or another rider
  • Remaining seated with your seatbelt and restraints fastened until the ride stops fully and you are told it is safe to exit
  • Using seat belts and seat restraints correctly and as directed
  • Never boarding a ride impaired
  • Confirming that any children in your party understand and are willing to follow park rules for their own safety

Potential Safety Hazards at Amusement Parks

Injuries at Six Flags venues and other amusement parks are often because of a number of recurring safety hazards. Some leading causes of injuries at amusement parks are:

  • Mechanical failures: If a ride is poorly maintained, built using defective parts, or is subjected to unsafe weight limits, a mechanical failure may occur. Mechanical failures can take the form of rollercoaster derailments, seat belt failures, broken structural components, or ride breakdowns. 
  • Improper attraction operation: Park attendants have a responsibility to check the safety of the visitors on rollercoasters and other attractions. They should also take care to operate rides safely and effectively. If an operator starts the ride before checking that everyone is secure in their seat, stops the ride abruptly, or incorrectly latches a seatbelt, serious injuries can occur.
  • Failure to follow instructions: While park employees have a duty to make rides and attractions as safe as reasonably possible, visitors must do their part by following rules and verbal instructions. When visitors choose to ignore park regulations or the directions of employees, they may place themselves or others at risk of harm. Some dangerous behaviors include standing up during a ride, loosening seat restraints while a rollercoaster is in motion, or intentionally rocking an attraction.
  • A ride’s dangerous or defective design: Even when a ride does not experience a mechanical failure, the attraction may be inherently unsafe for park visitors. Some poorly-designed rides may be capable of causing headaches, nausea, or loss of consciousness. In extreme cases, hemorrhages or cardiac arrest can occur. 

How Many Deadly Accidents Have Occurred at Six Flags Parks?

A recent study on fatal accidents at Six Flags parks created by The Doan Law Firm reports that sixty-one people have lost their lives in accidents at the franchise’s amusement and water parks. Altogether, 50 separate accidents occurred that resulted in the loss of at least one life. A breakdown of the total number of deadly accidents by individual parks is available in the following graph. Water parks that are a part of the Six Flags Hurricane Harbor franchise have an abbreviation of “HH” for brevity.

Of particular note:

  • The park with the highest number of deadly accidents was Six Flags Magic Mountain, with a total of 7 fatal incidents. 
  • Seven parks, including three separate Hurricane Harbor locations, had one fatal accident apiece. 
  • Franchise venues that have not had one or more reported fatal accidents to include Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Frontier City, Six Flags Great Escape, Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Rockford, Six Flags México, and Six Flags White Water.
Fatal Incidents by Six Flags Parks

The Five Most Dangerous Six Flags Parks

In the previous section, we explored how many fatal accidents occurred at a given Six Flags park. When we look at the total number of fatalities that occurred at each park, Six Flags Great Adventure surpasses Magic Mountain despite having fewer deadly accidents overall. This shift occurs because the majority of deaths at Great Adventure occurred in a single tragic incident.

On May 11th, 1984, Great Adventure’s Haunted Castle attraction burned to the ground with nearly thirty visitors and park employees inside. Although many people were able to find their way to safety, eight teenage victims became disoriented inside the dark attraction and were unable to escape. The theme park was sued for aggravated manslaughter following the tragic event, with prosecutors arguing that the attraction’s lack of smoke detectors, fire sprinklers, and other common safety devices was a recipe for disaster. 

While smoke detectors and fire sprinklers almost certainly would have mitigated the spread of a fire in the Haunted Castle, Six Flags was found “not guilty” due to a legal technicality. The Haunted Castle had previously been declared a temporary structure by the local township’s building inspector. As a temporary structure, there was no requirement for a castle to be in line with state fire codes applicable to most buildings. Six Flags did, nonetheless, end up settling with the families of the victims. 

Deaths by Six Flags Park

What Can You Do if Hurt at an Amusement Park?

Suffering an injury at an amusement park can be an incredibly traumatizing experience for you or a loved one. When we visit a theme park, we expect to experience an enjoyable day full of rollercoasters and themed attractions, not a serious injury or illness. If you or a loved one gets an injury at an amusement park due to the negligence of a park employee or a defective ride, you may be able to secure compensation for pain and suffering via a personal injury lawsuit.

The goal of a personal injury lawsuit is to secure fair compensation for the pain and suffering a victim goes through due to a preventable accident. Depending on the specific details of your case, you may be able to secure damages for lost wages, past and future medical bills, and pain and suffering. If someone loses their life in an amusement park accident, a wrongful death lawsuit can hold the responsible party liable for the harm they caused.

Enjoying a Safe Trip to a Six Flags Park

While Six Flags parks certainly have the potential to be dangerous, following park rules closely can help keep you and your loved ones safe. If you notice anything suspicious or out-of-place during your trip, alert park employees immediately. We hope you enjoy a safe family trip to Six Flags the next time you go!