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Disneyland and Disney World’s No-Fly Zones Under Scrutiny


In 2003 congress put into place a law that restricted flights around Disney’s U.S. theme parks. There’s a 3-mile restricted zone from which helicopters and planes are prevented from entering. Originally put in place to prevent attacks from bad actors (mostly terrorists), the no-fly zone also has the benefit of keeping the sky clear of planes towing commercial advertising banners.

The last 11+ years have been great if you like your Disney theme park experience unmolested by unwanted intrusive advertising. But there are serious questions why only Disney has these restrictions and why guests of Universal or Cedar Parks, for instance, don’t. Not to mention how safe a 3-mile no-fly zone actually is. Even slower planes travel 3 miles in about a minute. Over at the LA Times, Matt Pearce digs into the issue with a great article.

In the end, does protecting the national icon status Mickey & Minnie’s homes represent outweigh the free-speech rights of banner carrying businessmen? What about the rights of guests to enjoy their vacation unmolested by noisy aircraft and jarring advertisements they can’t opt out of?

Where do you stand on the debate?

(photo courtesy Scott Brinegar/Disneyland)

11 thoughts on “Disneyland and Disney World’s No-Fly Zones Under Scrutiny”

  1. I think it’s pretty nice to not have plane and helicoptor tours flying over the park. It’s annoying enough for that one plane that comes out every week to do skywriting by Disney. Without the flyzone you would have night time firework tours within a week and advertisements flying over head during the day. Not to mention the hate banners that a dozen planes would probably be flying each June. Kinda ruins the magic. On the other hand when you have 90,000 people in MK, it could definitely become a target. It is supposed to be this safe happy place to forget about your troubles and escape reality. I think it might touch us on a different level if Disney World or Disneyland were to be hit. There would be a different type of symbolism of that attack. Universal Studios and Cedar Point don’t evoke the same feelings across the country. I never heard of Cedar Point until my twenties and now in my thirties I still haven’t been there. People didn’t grow up watching a weekly show about Universal Studios being built and all of the fantasy and wonder that went with it. People save for years sometimes to visit Disney and can’t afford to ever come back but it is Disney that they chose.

  2. I was a Cast Member for several years. I remember in 2002, there was a union vote for a certain group of Cast Members to join a union. An airplane dragging a banner to persuade the group to “VOTE YES” was flying around. Talk about airing your dirty laundry!

  3. Yeah, no need to change the no-fly rule over Disney, if anything they’ve earned at least that.
    I think about it this way, isn’t it true that the only people actually lobbying to have it done away with, is the hate-mongers and the annoying advertisers? Why are we even listening to them? lol.

    And besides, with the future of the skies only becoming more congested with corporate and personal “drones”, it would make it that pretty much anyone could fly any message they want over Disney in a few years. It’s a no-go for me on the no-fly changes.

  4. I totally thought the no fly zone had been in place for ages and it was to preserve the magic. Nothing pulls you back into reality like a plane engine roaring past. Not what I want in a Disney park.

  5. I believe the “no fly zones” for both Disneyland and Walt Disney World go back to when Walt Disney himself made the initial talks with the governors at their respected dates. This is not something new!

  6. I feel as though we are bombarded with advertising from everywhere so it is nice when you go on vacation you are able to get away from it. I feel as if the other parks also want that 3 mile no fly zone they should also be included. If they want it they will probably have to fight for it.

  7. I didn’t know such a law & no fly zone existed. I’m thankful for it. In my opinion you can’t compare a Disney theme park to other parks in the country. I’ve been to others. I’m not sad to leave them. When I leave Disney I feel like I’m leaving a make believe world. I think they need to keep protecting all Disney parks. In addition I think we need the no fly air space over any theme park. Also only approved media planes should be allowed to fly over sporting events and concerts at outside arenas & sports complexes, anywhere Americans gather in large groups! My reason is Terrorist attacks are going to keep being a treat! ISIS is way more threat Sadam Hussian & Bin Laden ever thought of being! Don’t agree! Watch 60 minutes from 11/2/14 interview of ISIS recruiter in London. He is scary & he says ISIS wants to destroy Europe & America! So, yes no fly over! I want to safe at WDW!

  8. I vote the rule stays. As everyone else says, it would be pretty annoying to see advertisers flying overhead – what a distraction! On the other hand, military planes fly over on special occasions, and that is always a beautiful experience… truly wonderful to watch the patriotic display of freedom over The Happiest Place on Earth!

  9. i say leave the rule alone. It has worked for these many years and should remain. I visit Disney often and I would hate to hear buzzing planes and helicopters. It would a disgrace to have someone change it.

  10. I have worked at Walt Disney World for 25 years. On 9/11 we evacuated the park because Cinderella Castle is on the “Most Likely To Be Bombed” list (no, I don’t have a source for this). I remember working at the Castle Hub the day after the attacks and everyone would absolutely freak out when a military aircraft would fly overhead. It’s a little known fact but Walt Disney World already had a no-fly zone order which came from RCID to prevent advertisers flying balloons overhead as well as stopping the “Jesus loves you” sky writing. I understand the “Why isn’t there a no-fly zone over Universal or Sea World?” argument but it’s not valid; they don’t have an icon recognizable enough to be of any benefit to anyone were it to be destroyed.

  11. Leave the no fly zones in place. It’s nice to be on vacation in the parks and not have to be distracted by the flying banners overhead.

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