New security measures being implemented at Walt Disney World today


Disney has long struggled with balancing the right amount of security measures with maintaining a ‘happy place’ for guests. Discussions at the highest levels have been underway for years, but after recent events in the US and the World have caused the resort to act now.

The parks have always had some combination of costumed and plain clothes security. Originally they were mostly to prevent shop lifting and monitor behavior in the park (you know, like dancing too close or with members of the opposite sex (yes, that happened)).

In the late 90’s, Disney’s parks started implementing bag search to keep glass containers, knifes, and what not out of the parks, but really just as security theater. This procedure really only keeps out items accidentally brought in by people who don’t know the rules. Any determined visitor could still bring in pretty much what they want on their person. But, hey, if guests feel safer, there’s something to be said about that, right?

According to sources at the parks, Disney has recently started to kick the security up a few notches.

  • According to recently updated park rules, costumes and masks are now prohibited by guests ages 14 and older.
  • Starting as soon as today, Disney is pulling all toy guns (including colorful fantasy toys like the Buzz Lightyear laser gun) from shelves.
  • Already there has been a heavier presence of uniformed and armed police. Disney will also add more K-9 team patrols.
  • Starting today at the AMC Disney Springs 24 theaters, guest’s bags will be subject to search and they may be asked to walk through a scanner similar to what they have at airports. There maybe also be searches with hand-held wands. I’m told this is a temporary change related to increased levels of caution around Star Wars.
  • As of this morning, walk-through scanners are at bag check at Disney’s theme and water parks too.

A Disney spokesperson released the following statement, “We continually review our comprehensive approach to security and are implementing additional security measures, as appropriate.”

I have noticed increased security at my last few visits. Not enough to make me feel uncomfortable, but definitely more obvious. I’m sure there’s stuff going on that I can’t see as well. I’m no security expert, but I do know theme parks. I wish Disney was doing more awareness about this so guests arriving at the parks aren’t caught unaware of new procedures or limits on costumes (just recently I saw a Dad and his daughter walking around in full Darth Vader and Princess Leia costume in the parks… that would no longer be allowed, but would they have been aware of that?).

I know that some locations (like AMC theaters) had considered completely banning bags and backpacks. But how would that even work? It’s located in the middle of a shopping mall and half its guests arrive via bus from their hotels.

To be honest, Disney is a target and if someone wanted to do something nefarious, there is little Disney could do to stop them. There are so many choke points outside of security where if an attack happened the headline would still be “Tragedy at Disney.” That said, I’m not going to let it change my behavior. I’m convinced that it’s important to the cause of freedom and liberty that we live our lives just as we would if there was no threat. Yes, be more alert, but show up just the same.

How comfortable are you with security at Walt Disney World? Is it something that you think about before deciding whether to book a vacation?

(photo courtesy flickr user Sylvar cc-license by-2.0)

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20 thoughts on “New security measures being implemented at Walt Disney World today

  1. Mike

    Having recently visited I can say the security bag check was quick. There were plenty of security people available. Saw a few dogs with “do not pet” tags.

    A few times I witnessed security find a selfie stick and they would yell, yes yell, “we have a selfie stick! selfie stick!”
    That didn’t seem warranted.

    1. Michelle P

      We saw that in November, but then a non-security cast member would come over and offer to check the selfie stick for the guest so they could pick it up as they left the park.

  2. Jim Molineaux

    I have no problem at all with beefed up security. As long as I still feel I’m in a magical place and escaping from the every day hustle and bustle of the world.

  3. GQ

    “Disney is pulling all toy guns (including colorful fantasy toys like the Buzz Lightyear laser gun) from shelves.”

    Thank God. THIS will make us all safer. How ridiculous.

    1. Jeff

      Some are missing the point with the no toy gun sales. All it takes is a shady character to paint a real gun blue and bring it in the park (worse yet, by their child probably).

      Don’t understand the no costume rule, but I’m sure there is a reason.

  4. Marshal

    I just read somewhere that the costume policy will continue for Halloween Parties, which is going to be a BIG problem. That’s a reason I go, so not being able to dress-up, I bet you, will see a sharp decline in Halloween party attendees.

    1. Jessi

      Seeing as Halloween is so far away at this point, I’m hopeful that this is either untrue, or will be revised by then. I understand the no masks, but this is Disney, where costumes are part of the experience, and I’d hope they wouldn’t go that far. Let’s keep our fingers crossed this isn’t true.

    2. Molly

      I totally agree. Disney is supposed to be the place where everyone still feels like a kid. But now they are putting restrictions on special evenings for people over 14 (14 is still a kid) to dress up. We go every year for Halloween. It might not happen this year!! I want to dress up for Halloween parties too!! Walt would not like what is happening to his magical land!! Gonna be not so magical for the adults who have to take kids there now!

  5. Kaz

    I agree that a lot of it may be theater, but those who buy into the story line that we are always in danger of attacks will likely be comforted by the theater… There is also only so much Disney can do to reduce violence in this country in general.

  6. Bobby

    Ok i can see the metal scanners. But i think not selling toys weapons and the new dressing up rules for guests 14 and older is a bit out of control. Everyone enjoy dressing up as they favorites characters now and then if not all the time. The Magic and dreams that was Disney is now gone.

  7. John

    I for one feel that any measures taken to improve the safety level at Disney parks has to be a good thing, I guess the Haloween costumes could be an issue but I am sure they will come up with a new procedure before then, my family are more then happy to walk through scanners etc if it makes the parks a safer place to visit, true you can not make them 100 percent but you can get a lot closer then they have been, people with no bags just walk straight up to the park gates which to me seems a little crazy, it’s the balance between how many people and how quickly they can be checked, I am sure everyone would not mind an extra check for safety.

  8. Donna

    I was there last weekend, and I admit I did have a bit of concern. I welcome the increased security, but I really hope it comes coupled with many more portals. It can already take upwards of 30 minutes to get through that portion of the entrance when the parks are crowded. To add metal detectors and bag scans will multiply that time exponentially.

  9. Barbara

    I just got back from Disney World… went through bag/[purse checks twice a day….I would be happier with walking through a scanner/metal detector….yes, they checked bags…and I am fine with that…but what if someone had a gun in their waistband along their back? It would have gone through. After shootings in places like San Bernadino….a school in Connecticutwhere so many little children died…and too many others…I would welcome something to make sure no weapons get through. So walking through a metal detector? Absolutely. Those of us who go there…want to know that anything and everything is being done to keep us safe. I don’t doubt…sadly…that some wacko would just love to reign terror on a place like Disney World…and so much harm could be done. We live in a very different….often bad…world now.

  10. Geoff

    Huge Disney fan here. Some of my best Disney memories were buying the rifles and 6-shooters from the Indiana Jones show and off of Pirates when I was little. Hopefully this won’t last, and I understand why they did it, but let’s face it: if some nut wants to do something, it’s hard to stop them. I always feel safer when I see guards etc, but will that stop anyone who is going to suicide bomb the entrance of a park? These people go into to this knowing they’re gonna die (for the most part) so will any of these measures stop them? Deterrents like these won’t stop a maniac willing to kill innocent people. It’ll stop parents from dressing up with their kids and buying them toy guns, that’s all. I love disney so much, it’s a shame these murdering lunatics have made them do this. Fingers crossed for change in the world

  11. Karen

    I personally find the new costume rule ridiculous. This will negatively impact not only Halloween but Star Wars weekends. Most of the fans of Star Wars are over 14. This destroys the family unity and fun at these events. As for the blisters and Buzz Lightyear ray guns, I am sure that professional security personnel and police officers are quite capable of discerning the difference. This seems more like a politically correct type of decision. I am personally disappointed. Disney releases the largest grossing movie ever and fans can not express their dedication and have fun by wearing costumes.

  12. Kaz

    From what I understand, the adults in costume rule is not new, it is just going to be more strictly enforced…

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  14. Patricia

    Living and working in New York, extra security measures don’t bother me one bit. Like you said, even if it just makes people feel safer, that’s something in and of itself. I also don’t have a problem with the no costumes/masks policy for adults. It’s an identity issue. If some lunatic comes in there and does something, they want to be able to ID that person as quickly as possible. How can you do that with 45 other adults dressed in Darth Vader costumes? For those complaining, understand something: this a minor inconvenience in your life. It is not the end of the world, and you will get over it. Security measures are being taken for pretty serious reasons, so act like grown ups and stop pouting over not being able to dress up as Cinderella.

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