Walt Express wants to offer our deepest sympathy for the victims, families and friends of those that lost their lives in the tragic mass shooting in Orlando. In light of this senseless act of violence, we would like to take a moment and speak seriously with our audience about How Disney Protects Guests From Potential Tragedy.
How Disney Protects Guests From Potential Tragedy
Walt Disney World knows how to make magic happen, but they also know how to protect us. These are things that we don’t see much of while we are visiting, but Disney World has a very serious and secure plan in place. In the midst of the recent tragedy in Orlando, Walt Express has been contacted by many readers asking if Disney World is still safe. Many people are concerned that they will not be safe and we have even heard that some people are considering canceling their trips to the place where dreams come true. We understand the concern and we certainly want you all to remain vigilant in protecting your families. However, we believe that knowledge is power. Therefore we have done our research on safety measures and security at Disney World and we would like to share that information with all of you. We hope that knowing about the extensive procedures, trainings, and measures that Disney utilizes to keep all of their guests safe will help ease your mind and help you make an educated decision about your vacation plans.
Safety Measures We Can See
First off, let’s start with the safety measures that you can see. Disney has invested millions into creating an atmosphere that is safe and yet still feels magical. There are certain investments that they want out in the open to reassure guests that each person’s safety is of the utmost importance. The following procedures and personnel are visible reminders of Disney’s commitment to safety, security, and disaster prevention:
Bag Checks: Security has never been taken lightly at Walt Disney World. For as long as I can remember, there has been a bag check area at the entrance to every park. If the line is long, don’t complain. These security guards are being extra thorough to keep us all safe. Try thanking them for all they do next time, I’m sure the thought will be much appreciated.
Metal Detectors: Metal detectors were installed in December of 2015 after a man tried to bring in a gun and was stopped by Disney security. However, not everyone was required to pass through the detectors until this week. Team members have reported long lines, but everyone seems to be very understanding.
Security Guards: Guards are located at the front of every park and stationed throughout. There are also numerous other plain clothes guards that patrol the parks. Disney states on their website that they employ more than 1,000 trained security personnel.
Biometric Scans: With the implementation of MagicBands also came one of Disney’s most advanced systems for identification. Every park has replaced the turnstiles with biometric scanners, which scan each guest’s fingerprints and stores them for identification. You can see this scan at every entrance, but what it can truly do is something you can’t see.
Security Measures You Can Not See
Disney likes for you to see some of the security procedures and personnel. However, the main bulk of the work protecting cast members and guests is done mostly behind closed doors.
Employing the Best of the Best:
Disney is known for its thorough hiring process for cast members. Imagine what the process is like for those who are over security for the parks. Disney hires only the best of the best for these jobs. They have West Point and other prestigious graduates on their payroll. These extremely qualified and highly competent employees train security guards and cast members. They also are in charge of implementing plans to keep us safe. These employees also stay in constant contact with the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI. Disney works hard to stay on top of any possible threats. They also keep the communication open with those departments in our country who are working hard to serve and protect us.
RFID Technology: Say what you will about biometric scans and RFID technology being intrusive. I think we all know that if a disaster did happen we would be grateful for this kind of technology. While Disney claims that it only uses the RFID for basic information to enhance your park experience, it is my belief that this technology could be used in an emergency situation for good.
Should a Tragedy Occur…
Although Disney has implemented multiple measures to keep us safe, one of the best things we can do is create a plan for our own families. No matter how much money and time is put into security, bad things can still happen anywhere. But creating a plan for our own families puts more control in our hands. Control of a situation, if even in some part, always helps me deal with the anxiety that comes with the unknown. Here are some things to think about or include in a good safety plan for natural disasters and other unexpected occurrences:
Be Aware of Your Surroundings: Pay attention to your surroundings. If you see something that looks out of place or someone who is sending up red flags because of their behavior, report it. At Disney World, you can report these behaviors to a cast member and they will alert the plain clothes security members. As stated above, these reports are taken seriously. Do your part by being observant and don’t ever be afraid to make a report. Trust us when we tell you that you won’t look silly if your report doesn’t turn out to be an issue. The security team will be grateful that you were trying to be helpful and proactive. If it really is an issue, it’s a win for everyone.
Stick together: One of the best things you can do is always stick together. Keep an eye on those you love and if you are like me, keep a hand on them too. My husband and I always hold hands with the children. We have also decided to always sit together if at all possible. Our oldest is trying to prove his independence and we try not to stifle that, but his safety is still our top concern. Sometimes we loosen up a bit if it’s an area where the kids sit separately, like at Turtle Talk with Crush. However, we sit in the closest seat to the kid’s area and keep an eye on our children the whole time. We also discuss with them where we are sitting so they can find us right away. We also make plans for a meeting area in case something happens and we can’t remain in our seats.
Have a preplanned meeting area: Speaking of a meeting place, this is a super important thing to note and put into practice with your family. We pick a central location that would likely be safe and away from large crowds. This plan can also be modified for when you are on vacation. Before you go into the parks, talk to your children about what to do if you are separated. Tell them if it’s just a simple matter of getting lost, they can locate a cast member and stay put until you find them. If disaster strikes, talk to your family about where to meet.
Call for Help: Call 911 and try to remain calm. Describe the situation, where you are, where the disaster or incident is occurring. Answer the questions the dispatcher is asking as clearly as possible. If they request that you stay on the line, follow their directions.
Once You Are In Your Safe Place
Check in with Family: Phone lines can easily get clogged up when everyone is trying to find out if their loved ones are ok. Once you have found a safe haven, we recommend calling or texting one family member and letting them know you are safe. Once you have reached them, ask them to contact everyone else.
To alert friends that you are ok, login to Facebook. That may sound crazy, but I recently heard about a Facebook feature that is enabled during tragedies or natural disasters to help people let others know they are safe. This feature, called Safety Check, allows anyone who is in the area of a tragedy to check in to let friends and family members know that they are ok. It works really well, because one of my friends who lives in Orlando checked in a few days ago and it was a relief to see that she was ok.
Add your Medical Information into your iPhone:
I saw a post from Candi Norton today on Facebook that reminded me of a very handy feature in all of our iPhones. First responders need ways to find your emergency contact information. This is so that they can easily contact your family if there has been an accident and you are unable to respond to their questions. Most phones are protected by a lock screen so responders can not get to your contacts to find the In Case of Emergency contacts you may have added. Apple added a feature in 2014 for iOS 8 called Medical ID to help with this problem. The Medical ID will show up on your lock screen and if you have added or updated the information, first responder can see your emergency contacts. You can also include information on your blood type and any medical conditions they may need to be made aware of.
For iPhones- Go into your Health App (it’s the white app with a heart). Then go to the tab for Medical ID on the far right hand side on the bottom of the screen. Click edit and then fill in your information and enable it to show on emergency screen. You can enable it by sliding the button on the screen so that it shows up green. Then you can check to make sure the information is there by putting your phone to sleep and then waking it up. Before you enter your passcode, you can tap the word “emergency” on the bottom left. That will take you to the white screen and the bottom left will say Medical ID and it will have all information you entered earlier.
Don’t Let Fear Win
All of this information may be a bit scary to think about, but we believe that knowledge is power. Knowing that Disney has implemented so many levels of security to keep you safe will hopefully put your mind at ease. In light of our current situation, you will notice that some will choose to let fear rule their lives. Some will refuse to take flights and others may consider canceling a trip to their happy place.
We want you to know that no matter where you are, there is always a risk that a tragedy could occur. The best we can do is be aware of our surroundings, keep our loved ones close, and continue living our lives. We will not forget the fear and loss that this tragedy has created. But we must not allow that fear to override our need for joy and magic in a world that sometimes seems so dark. Carry this knowledge with you and continue to seek out the magic and light in this world.
If you are here, it is likely that your happy place is Disney World or one of the other amazing Disney destinations. I encourage you not to allow this horrible act to alter your desire to experience the magic those destinations offer. I believe that Walt would be encouraging us to keep creating and keep dreaming. He would encourage us to travel if that is our heart’s desire. He would encourage us to keep creating magic for each other and he would encourage us to enjoy the beauty and fun around us. But most of all, I think he would encourage us to not only seek out magic, but create it. So you see, we must not let fear win. We must live and we must carry the magic with us. Don’t let fear keep you from your happy place and don’t let it keep you from creating magic for others!
Is safety at Disney World on your mind? Discuss this topic and others in the Disney Express Lane Facebook Group. You can also check out more posts on safety below.
Other posts you may enjoy:
15 Reasons the Magic is Still Alive at Disney World
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photo credit: Disney’s Human Element – Flag Retreat via photopin (license)
photo credit: Magic Kingdom – Station Stairway via photopin (license)
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