Friday, May 6, 2016

America Sings Opening & Cast Member Tragedy - 1974



This advertisement (below) for the opening of America Sings is one of the oldest Disneyland newspaper clippings I have. I cut it out of the L.A. Times when I was very young and have saved it all of these years.


America Sings opened on June 30th, 1974. On July 8th, just nine days after the opening, a cast member was crushed to death by the rotating walls inside the attraction. I heard about the incident from kids at school, but I hadn't actually read anything in the paper or seen anything on the news relating to it. I decided to write to Disney News Magazine to ask if the story was true. I received this response back from them. The letter is dated, July 25, 1974, and postmarked the following day.



If you are interested in reading more about this tragic incident, you can click below for a 2010 post from the blog, "Vintage Disneyland Tickets": Vintage Disneyland Tickets - Remembering Deborah

10 comments:

Connie Moreno said...

WOW!!

K. Martinez said...

I remember the day the cast member was killed on America Sings. It made the news all the way up here in Northern California. It was very sad and shocking. Then I remember afterwards certain guests would talk to others about it while waiting in line to go on America Sings. They would go into all the grisly details and then a child hear it and ask his parent if it was true and the ride was dangerous. I thought it was kind of tacky they'd do that around people waiting in line to see it. Thanks for the post, TokyoM!

TokyoMagic! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TokyoMagic! said...

Connie, It's nice to hear from you! I hope all has been well with you!

Ken, I think David Koenig writes in one of his books about how the guests would constantly ask the cast members working the attraction, for details about the death. I think one female cast member said in order to shut people up, she would tell them that she was her sister!

Major Pepperidge said...

As always, I am amazed that they took the time to answer your question personally - no form letter response. A few years ago I wrote a real letter (not an email) to Disneyland, to compliment them on the cast members that had impressed me so much the day before. I received a letter back, but it was obviously the most generic "thank you".

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, It is a little surprising, but we have to stop and remember that things were very different back then. I wrote to them quite a bit in the mid to late seventies and always received a personal letter back. More often than not, the letter would be accompanied by either the latest issue of Disney News Magazine, a publicity photo, a decal, or even a Disneyland pictorial souvenir book, if you can believe that! Yep, it was a different time altogether.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this remembrance. Being a CM at the time (on the Westside), the news spread around the Park like wildfire. All of us were saddened and shocked. Reading the article at the blog you cited helped to bring back the memories. Since there was no formal ceremony by Disney for the employee family, I learned more about Debbie today than I ever knew before. KS

TokyoMagic! said...

KS, I'm glad to hear that the link was able to provide you with more information. Thanks for leaving a comment!

Anonymous said...

BTW, I forwarded this item along to a FB site dedicated to those CMs who have passed on. It prompted a number of comments of CMs familiar with the incident...one of whom was working on the attraction that night.

Anonymous said...

I have friends who worked in Tomorrowland and America Sings with her. She had just gotten engaged. It was devastating to everyone.