All Walt Disney World and Disneyland theme parks, along with several other major theme parks (including SeaWorld parks & Universal parks) have added metal detectors to their entrances for enhanced security.
Additionally, there will also be more uniformed and plain-clothes police officers, security guards, and dogs patrolling the parks. Disney has ceased sales of all toy guns (right down to bubble guns) and will be prohibiting anyone over the age of 14 from dressing in costume.
March 28, 2017 Update: A lot of tweaks to security screenings have occurred since these sweeping changes went into effect in December 2015 (including Disneyland moving its security checkpoints further back to encompass Downtown Disney), but the biggest change is occurring on April 3, 2017 at Walt Disney World. Here’s some info on what’ll happen then…
The big change to Walt Disney World security is that bag check and security screening for guests arriving via monorail or ferry will occur at the Ticket & Transportation Center instead of at Magic Kingdom. Other changes will include security checks at the monorail resorts prior to guests boarding the monorail; for guests arriving to Magic Kingdom via bus, resort boats, or walking from the Contemporary, new security points will be farther from the turnstiles.
With security backups at Magic Kingdom getting pretty bad on busy days (to the point that the congestion itself posed a security/safety hazard), this was a long time coming. Security at Walt Disney World remains a point of contention, and Disney’s handling of security has not always been the most consistent.
What follows is our original post about the security changes from two years ago–none of this is new info.
This is the big theme park news of the day, and you might have heard this by now. I wanted to add a brief bit of my own commentary as I’ve read some hysterical comments. At the same time, I want to stay on the “theme park” side of an issue that is very much intertwined with hot-button real world issues of the day. I know you come to read this blog either by mistake or because of my theme park views, and not for whatever crazy political beliefs I might have, and I intend to keep it that way.
The fact that this happened overnight, simultaneously at several or all major theme parks suggests to me that this is an issue that goes far beyond Disney, and is a mandate made to parks. This is just speculation on my part, but I think it being mere coincidence that Universal, SeaWorld, and Disney all randomly decided to do the same thing on the same night is unlikely.
While Disney has been understandably vague when it comes to the timing and rationale for the increase in safety protocol and rule changes, recent national events are presumed cause. Since the high profile attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, along with other credible threats that have been reported, I can’t say this really comes as much of a surprise. The unfortunate reality is that theme parks are high profile targets, and one can assume management & security teams at all major parks have open dialogues with the government about security.
When we were in Walt Disney World a couple of weeks ago, there was a precipitous increase in the presence of security officers from one day to the next, and the bag-check screening process also became more thorough overnight, and remained that way for the duration of our trip. Multiple people with whom we were traveling noticed this, and at that point, it seemed like an inevitability that further security screening measures would be taken in the near future.
What we are hearing and seeing today is probably the first change of several in new policies that will be implemented and refined over the coming months. I know many people are concerned about the prohibition of adults wearing costumes, a rule that extends to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Keep in mind that those parties are some 10 months away, and that a lot can change between now and then. This is not to say that anything will change–your guess is as good as mine on that. However, given the possibility that these are temporary measures beyond Disney’s control, I would not consider them to be the final policy that will be enforced next September or October.
I have read comments about this that I consider distasteful on social media, some invoking the name of Walt and others about the ugly, cluttered, and uninviting look of the entrances. I can’t personally claim to know how Walt would feel about this, as I never met him and he passed away several decades ago. I can say that this does sadden me, personally, not because of its intrusiveness or due to it being a grim reminder of the real world at the entrance to the Magic Kingdom, but because this is the reality of the world in which we live–the “new normal” as they say.
Regardless of how you feel about all of these changes, I would implore anyone visiting to the parks in the near future as these policies are implemented to not take out anger about any “inconveniences” on the front-of-line Cast Members working at the entrances. These Cast Members have absolutely no say over the policy that they are enforcing, and are working in theme parks during the holiday season so you can make memories and have fun. Be sure to pack your patience and manners.
I welcome discussion on this topic so long as it remains thoughtful, on-topic, and–above all else–civil.