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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 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?