Monday, January 23, 2012

Safety at Disney Parks

Safety at Disney Parks

                Safety is most likely one of the last things you don't think much about at a Disney Park. That is for good reasons as Disney Parks are overall very safe. Still there are some things to think about and do when you are on vacation.

                In general the worst thing you have to worry about at a Disney Park is someone stealing your wallet. In general security is well aware of what is going on and stops other issues quickly.

                There are a few people that go to the park with plans not to enjoy but to steal. One of the things to watch out for is where you keep your wallet. Make sure it is secure. If you keep it in your backpack or bag make sure it is in an inside pocket. If you keep it in your pocket I suggest a pocket with a button so someone can't pick your pocket. A good location is the inside pocket of a jacket.

                Be aware that people get grumpy in crowds. Some people actually become scared and respond in ways they would not usually when placed in large crowds. When the crowds increase so do peoples temper. Be ready to be a calming effect rather than a match to light the flame.

                Here is a wild example of things getting out of control at Disneyland and how my husband handled it. One Christmas we were waiting for the fireworks. We had picked our spot around 4 pm so we could have our favorite spot. While we were sitting we joked around with the Cast Members working the area. Around 7:30 pm a family came into our area and started maneuvering closer and closer. By 7:45 the family was trying to push their way onto our bench. We saw it coming before it happened so we made sure some of our items were right where they wanted to sit. We were saving the open space for friends, shortly after they asked if they could sit in the open spot. We politely informed them we were saving the spot for friends who would be coming shortly.

                They kept looking over their shoulder at the spot and pushing even closer to us limiting our movement and making us uncomfortable. They also pushed one of our bags around on the ground. My husband moved into the bench area nearest them. He sat in a way they could not sit but he was not touching any of them. The husband turned around and started yelling, "You touched my wife!! I'm going to have you thrown out of the park!" My husband made sure his arms were on the back of the bench and his hands in full view and open. He informed the man calmly he had not touched his wife. He kept his voice low and calm. About this time our friends came up and joined us. We readjusted to fill the bench and take our space. The man kept yelling telling my husband to stop touching his wife's butt. My husband's hands were still on the back of the bench so I know for sure nothing had happened and the man was lying. I told the man I knew my husband had not touched his wife. I spoke calmly, firmly but not quite as softly as my husband. The man started yelling even louder.      At this point I started to look around for a Cast Member.  His wife said nothing either way.

                I did not want to be part of any fight. I did not want to ruin the day of this rude person's child, who was watching the entire thing. As I turned around and caught the eye of a Cast Member standing 15 feet away from us she knowingly nodded her head and put her finger to her lips. About that time several male Cast Members came into the area and headed straight toward us. The female Cast Member that nodded at me followed them. As they walked up the man started yelling, "I want that man kicked out of the park. He grabbed my wife's butt!" The wife said nothing. The female Cast Member calmly stepped to the front with security and male Cast members at her side. "Sir, I've been here since 4:30 setting up this area. This couple was here when I arrived and has been nothing but polite to other guests. I've been watching you since you stepped into this family's space and you have a choice to make. Go find another area to view the fireworks from or you will be escorted out of the park."

                The reason I told that story is I want you to know Disney Security is watching. They will be there to help if you need. If my husband had raised his voice or moved his hands he might have escalated the situation. Keep calm and do not make things worse. Don't be afraid of getting help. In the hundreds of times I've gone to the park this is the worst event I've witnessed.

                If you are going to the park with children there are a few safety things to consider. I believe Disney Parks are safe enough to let a responsible child or teen to go off in pairs for several hours. It is a good place for them to learn independence and feel some freedom. Just have check in times and places. If they have a cell phone it is perfectly safe.

                If you have a younger child I have a few safety tips. For little ones I suggest putting a tag on the back of their clothing that has their name, your name and a cell number they can call you at. We found this cute little red and yellow barrels that were made for temporary dog tags. You could slip a little slip of paper in it with your contact information. We put these on our daughter's shoes. She liked the little bells on them and how them wiggled on her shoes. Thankfully she never got lost and we never had to rely on them.

                Teach your child it is ok to say, "Hi" to people if they say hello but they don't have to carry on a conversation. Let your child know to trust their feelings about people. When our daughter was 5 years old daddy took her to the restroom. We believe that a child of that age should not go into the restroom of the opposite sex. He let her go into the ladies room while he went into the men's room. We had a standard practice of doing this and she would meet us right outside the restroom. I was across Main Street at our locker getting our things so we could go home. Hannah knew I was there. As she was waiting for daddy a man she did not know walked up to her. He said, "Hi. Are you alone?" Hannah quickly replied, "No, I'm waiting for my daddy." The man continued to try to talk to Hannah. "Do you want me to wait with you?" Hannah told us she stepped away from him because she made him uncomfortable. "No thank you, I know where my mom is." At that she ran across the street to me at the locker.

                Hannah knew it was ok to say Hi and it was also ok to break off the conversation politely. She knew enough to let the man know there was an adult that knew exactly where she was. She told us she would have yelled if he had stepped closer to her when she stepped away from him. She knew where I was and when she felt uncomfortable waiting near that man she came to me. This empowered her to speak up and gave us faith she knew how to handle herself away from us.

                Until a child is an older teenager that has show themselves responsible I would not allow them to be alone in Downtown Disney or the hotels. These places are less controlled as to who is there. It is too easy for an unescorted minor to leave. The most important thing is to know your child. Are they trustworthy? Do they know how to call for help if needed? Can they reach you if they need you? Will they live up to your expatiations or will they get themselves in trouble? If you think they will behave then by all means let them have the freedom.

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