Thousands of new visitors have been coming to the site over the past week and a half, referred by Google searches for theme park accidents that don't exist. At the same time, I've heard from a few readers about scam Facebook pages and posts alerting people to roller coaster crashes at parks such as Alton Towers, Canada's Wonderland and even Universal Studios Hollywood (which has just one roller coaster, and a rather small one at that).
The traffic surge began on Thursday, April 7, then really went nuts on Saturday, April 9. Things got back to normal last Wednesday, but the scam traffic surged again over the weekend.
Since April 7, here are some numbers, showing how many people have been referred to Theme Park Insider from these Google search phrases:
1. alton towers accident 5,878
2. alton towers accidents 5,491
3. alton towers crash 4,505
4. theme park accident alton towers 2,863
5. theme park accident in universal studios hollywood 2,230
6. accident at alton towers 1,790
7. universal studios accident 1,659
8. accident at canada's wonderland 1,280
9. canada's wonderland accidents 1,140
10. canada's wonderland accident 1,086
For the record, there haven't been any injury accidents at these parks recently. Heck, Canada's Wonderland isn't even open for the season yet. (The park opens May 8.)
I was stumped to see the traffic influx until I heard about the Facebook stuff, but I haven't seen any of those pages or posts, so I can't confirm that is what is stirring up all this fuss.
Anyone have any insight? I have to say that I'm curious.
Or are people seeing the link, being smart enough not to click it in case it is spam, then going to Google to search for the accident in case it is real?
That sounds more plausible to me. But, given the number of people who've ended up here... that must be one very active spam campaign!
The links take you to typical spam pages, so it appears that the traffic surge is from people who chose to head to Google looking for the information, rather than clicking the link.
Given the low percentage of people who act on any given FB link, multiplied by the low percentage who click through a specific search engine results link, the fact that thousands of people are finding their way to TPI suggests to me that millions of people must have seen these spam posts.
Thanks for the information, everyone. And, of course, if there ever are any actual theme park accidents in your area, Theme Park Insider will be here with the news.