What Are the Chances? Three Earthquakes Rattle the Ground Near Disney Park in Just One Day

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An aerial view of a Disney Park with a large castle at its center. The image is overlaid with a digitally added effect of large cracks spreading across the scene, as if an earthquake had rattled the ground. Lush greenery and water features surround the castle.

Credit Inside the Magic

Three separate earthquakes shook the ground and rattled residents near the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, on Thursday, begging the question: What are the chances something like that could happen again?

An aerial view of a Disney Park with a large castle at its center. The image is overlaid with a digitally added effect of large cracks spreading across the scene, as if an earthquake had rattled the ground. Lush greenery and water features surround the castle.
Credit: Inside the Magic

Apparently, the answer is that the chances are very good for such an occurrence.

Good Things Come in Threes. But So Do Bad Things.

Omne trium perfectum is a saying comprised of three Latin words that translate to “Everything that comes in threes is perfect.” From very early on, we’re wired to look for things in threes. Just think Goldilocks and the Three Bears, “Rock, paper, scissors,” and “Third time’s the charm.”

The list goes on: a three-piece suit, Three Coins in a Fountain, a three-ring circus, a three-legged race, and the genie always asks, “What are your three wishes?” Even the United States Constitution features a three-part promise–that of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

A textured image of the United States Constitution with the prominent words "We the People" overlaid on an American flag with stars and stripes partially visible in the background. The document's text is slightly blurred and faded, evoking a resilience strong enough to withstand three earthquakes in Southern California.
Credit: Inside the Magic

But we can think of several things we wouldn’t want to experience if they were to arrive three at a time—or in a three-part series. Some people believe that bad things happen in waves of three, whether those things are deaths, accidents, or other forms of misfortune.

No matter which mindset you ascribe to, the fact is that last Thursday, three separate earthquakes occurred near the Disneyland Resort, located in Southern California.

A Trio of Earthquakes Strikes 

The trio struck in the area near Newport Beach, California, and Costa Mesa, California, on Thursday afternoon and evening.

A stunning panoramic aerial view of a coastal area at sunset. The image captures a vibrant sky with dramatic cloud formations, numerous residential buildings, boats docked in the waterways, and lush greenery, all framed by water on either side—an idyllic scene starkly contrasting with recent earthquakes in Southern California.
Newport Beach, California/Credit: Inside the Magic

The first quake occurred at 4:52 p.m. along the Newport Beach-Costa Mesa border and measured 3.6 on the Richter Scale. Then, a magnitude 3.4 aftershock struck at 5:04 p.m., with an epicenter in Upper Newport Bay. A foreshock to Thursday’s earthquakes happened on Wednesday at 1:46 p.m. underneath Newport Beach’s Mariners Park and measured 2.8 on the Richter Scale. Its epicenter was located in Costa Mesa.

Isolated Event or Regular Occurrence?

Such an event is neither isolated nor necessarily a regular occurrence, according to one website dedicated to the study of the probability of multiple quakes in one day. In fact, the chances of multiple serious earthquakes occurring all in one day are very likely–at least more likely than one might think:

The probability of three major earthquakes (over 7.0 in richter scale) happening on the same date is not as low as you would think. It is actually about 25% likely to happen. This is the same probability as getting two consecutive “heads” when tossing a coin twice.

A close-up of a hand holding a U.S. quarter balanced on the thumb, ready to be flipped. The background is a warm, blurred gradient with shades of yellow and brown. The hand is wearing a dark suit sleeve, suggesting a formal setting amidst the recent news of three earthquakes in Southern California.
Credit: Inside the Magic

Though it’s not something that residents in these areas hope to experience, it’s not an uncommon occurrence. As for the event on Thursday, residents in the area had a lot to say about what they experienced that day, but Disneyland Resort appeared to resume and maintain normal operations despite the quakes:

Despite the brief disruption caused by the earthquake, the park managed to resume normal operations shortly after ensuring that all rides and attractions were thoroughly inspected for any damage. The resilience exhibited by both the staff and guests in the face of adversity highlighted the community spirit that thrives within Disneyland.

A grayscale image of a man with a mustache smiling and resting his face on his hand. In the background is Disneyland's Fire Dept. building, known for its classic sign and address number 105, where Walt Disney once had his private apartment.
Credit: Inside the Magic

You can read more about the residents’ experiences by clicking here.

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