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Bogus interest in non-existent theme park accidents

Why are thousands of people searching for roller coaster incidents that don't exist? Is this a Facebook thing?

From Robert Niles
Posted April 18, 2011 at 3:17 PM
Recently I've noticed a surge in traffic to the Theme Park Insider, but not for reasons I'd like.

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.


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From M. Ryan Traylor
Posted April 18, 2011 at 3:24 PM
There is a facebook spam link going around about theme park accidents. Clicking it will take you someplace and repost the article on your own page.

From Robert Niles
Posted April 18, 2011 at 3:31 PM
Stupid question time: Is that spam link sending people to a Google search results page? And if so, why would anyone write a spam bot to do that?

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!

From Terri Pierce
Posted April 18, 2011 at 5:20 PM
I haven't seen anything but when I see something like this I immediately go to google to check. I did notice the past couple of weekends though that the spam hits have increased a lot. I got spam IMed nearly 10 times one day but different people. I will never understand why people program bots to do such things or why its useful to them. It rattles my brain.

From Jorge Arnoldson
Posted April 18, 2011 at 5:31 PM
I've only seen the Universal Studios Hollywood one, which is totally ridiculous. The picture is of a roller coaster at a Tokyo amusement park not listed on this site, but USH's only coaster (Mummy) is completely indoors. This stuff is total nonsense.

From Robert Niles
Posted April 18, 2011 at 7:41 PM
Paula Werne of Holiday World emailed me this link, which explains that this is, indeed, a Facebook virus.

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.

From M. Ryan Traylor
Posted April 19, 2011 at 5:58 PM
I've seen one like this before in the past. A few years ago. Now, I'm trained when I see anything of the sort to ignore. My morbid curiosity knows better. When dealing with Theme Park Accidents, I immediately clicked on my TPI bookmark to find out the information from here.

From Rob P
Posted April 20, 2011 at 2:34 AM
Just a thought but you could take this as a back-handed compliment.
After all anyone wanting to get correct information on anything to do with theme parks would seek out Theme Park Insider which , as we all know, is a reliable source of information.
Okay choosing to ignore idiots may be a naive view. The alternative is to be disturbed by a lot of very odd nut jobs.

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