More Details on Football Families Kicked Off Property by Disney

The Honolulu Advertiser has more details on the events that led up to the players and families of three football teams being evicted from their rooms at 3AM after a few members of the their teams were involved in a fight in an arcade.

Shortly after the fight, at about 3 a.m., the 70 players and family members from O’ahu as well as families from Baltimore were given written notices from the Walt Disney resort informing them that they had 20 minutes to vacate the property or Orange County sheriff’s deputies would be called to remove them.

The notice prompted panic. Entire families, including small children, were awakened and told to gather in the corner of a parking lot as emergency lodging arrangements were made, Kong said.

"It was frantic, trying to find us a place to stay. The little ones were scared just being woken up and pulled out of bed. They were crying and wondering what was going on," said Kong. "We felt abandoned and helpless. We understand they have a no-tolerance rule, but we didn’t appreciate how they handled it."

To me a salient point that everyone has failed to mention in their coverage, is that Disney requires the teams and their families to stay on the Walt Disney World property if they are going to participate in the Pop Warner championship. It’s not like the teams chose to sign this agreement and stay with Disney. They were forced to sign to play in the championship.

This article in the Boston Globe from January shows the kind of pressure this puts teams and their families under to raise money for the trip and how much money Disney makes when teams aren’t allowed to stay at off property hotels that could save them a lot of money.

"We could have saved a lot of money if we went to one of the other hotels around here," said Daryel Barros, who coached the New Haven Steelers in the Pop Warner Midget playoffs at the Disney complex.

While rooms were available at a nearby Comfort Inn through Expedia.com for $51.43 a night during Pop Warner’s championships, Disney’s least expensive package for the Pop Warner teams required a three-night stay (four persons per room) at Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort and a four-day theme park pass for $319 per person. At that rate, Disney received $1,276 per room, or nearly $425 a night.

"We’re going home about $8,000 in debt," said Barros, one of many coaches and parents associated with Pop Warner teams who said they remained in debt after exhausting charitable donations.

To require the teams to stay on property and then require them to sign a contract that forces families to be evicted on 20 minutes notice, even at 3AM, for events they had no control over is an unreasonable expectation to say the least.

To top it off, I’m sure this event is going to build some bad will between Disney and the residents of Oahu, where Disney is currently planning to build its first mega-resort not attached to a theme park.   

Previously: Disney’s Policy to evict families unfair?

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7 Responses to More Details on Football Families Kicked Off Property by Disney

  1. Joe says:

    The Pop Warner organization committed itself to require the teams to stay on Disney property when it signed the current contract in 1997 which expires in 2010.

    “Pop Warner’s executive director, Jon Butler, said the requirement reflects the organization’s commitment to the children. He said Pop Warner accepted the terms under an arrangement in which Disney provides first-rate athletic facilities, support services such as medical personnel, and local transportation for all the participants, at no charge.”

    In other words, staying off of Disney property may reduce the hotel cost, but could introduce other costs, such as transportation to and from the events and the hotels.

    ANY hotel chain that would host thousands of children and their families would require a similar “no tolerance” clause; on my senior year class trip to Orlando in 1979 we were advised of a similar policy that would send the ENTIRE group home with any infractions; the hotel had teachers and security WITH GUARD DOGS placed in the hallways during the night and our rooms had adhesive tape placed on the doors so they could see who had opened their doors during curfew.

    Luckily our class was well-behaved, other classes were sent home in other years.

  2. aaron says:

    First:

    DON’T GO PLAY IN THE TOURNEY IF YOU CAN’T AFFORD IT!!!

    Second: Why in the world were a bunch of teenaged football players getting in a fight at an arcade at 1am???? Was anyone else here allowed to be out at 1am as a teenager???? Good for Disney. These people let their kids run amock and paid the price.

    Good for Disney!

  3. Anonymous says:

    “Zero tolerance” has provided zero results as several studies has already concluded.

    My own personal philosophy is to never enter into an agreement that doesn’t treat you with respect. When someone disrespects you, then that is the last time you deal with that person/entity… Ever.

    Yes, over the years I have lost out on quite a few “good” arrangements that others have benefited from (some deservedly so, others not-so-deseveredly). However, after a while, you gain the reputation for being respectable which yields several more long-term advantages that you would not have otherwise obtained.

  4. Mike says:

    There is none more respectable than Disney. They are providing WAY more for than anyone else would for the price. They also provide a FAMILY FRIENDLY environment and I for one are VERY happy that they work hard to keep it that way.

    Why don’t you put the responsibility where it should be placed…squarely on the adults responsible for these kids.

    Not to mention that I attended a football game against the University of Hawaii where I experienced the most obnoxious, abusive and unsportsmanlike conduct that I have ever seen. Sounds like they start training their kids early.

  5. Mike,

    I would have been totally satisfied if Disney had put the responsibility where it should be placed, as you point out, on the adults responsible for these kids. Those adults are the kid’s parents or guardians who were with the kids involved in the fight, and possibly the team’s coaches.

    Instead, Disney assigned responsibility to parents, players, friends, and family who had no connection with the kids in the fight other than their son or daughter played on the same team with them and were forced by Disney and Pop Warner to agree to stay on Disney’s property and agree to this unreasonable policy.

    Disney then took their already poorly formed policy of shared blame and implemented it to the extreme waking up people in the middle of the night and evicting them instead of allowing them to check out in the morning like normal human beings.

    I’ve avoided playing the racism card because I don’t have any direct evidence of it in this case, but you seem happy to play it in your comment so here I go.

    Taken alone this is probably not remarkable, but when combined with Disney’s racially targeted loitering enforcement at Downtown Disney it is showing a pattern of extremism in Disney’s response to a certain element, in this case kids with darker skin. That leaves a very very bad taste in my mouth and I really hope that someone at Disney is hunting down the root cause of this discrimination and having it removed through training or other methods.

    -John

  6. Mike says:

    John,

    Racism? I never played the racism card! Hawaii is a state…a state where several of my family members were born and raised. A state that I love to visit. Where I recently went to take part in my brother-in-laws wedding. My experience had NOTHING to do with race…just fans of a state university.

    You are the one that read racism into my comments. Maybe you were looking for it…sad.

    I still support Disney striving to take measures to keep my family safe while on THEIR property. I appreciate their loitering policy, unfortunately the couple that was recently mugged there didn’t benefit from the policy.

  7. Mike, I’ve sent you an email about where I felt your comment crossed the line. I won’t debate that on the blog.

    But I am interested in how you think Disney’s extreme enforcement of a shared responsibility policy that affects people totally unrelated to a particular incident makes your family safer? These friendly-fire casualty families who were evicted had no influence on the kids who were fighting. Since they’re not the unruly kids parent or guardian there is nothing they can legally do to the kids, so what good does it do for Disney to create all this bad will and to anger all those families who otherwise would have slept peacefully through the night.

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