After countless hours and hundreds of dollars spent, the last thing that anyone wants to experience while on a Disney vacation is getting harmed. Many of us fall prey to the illusion of being inside the “Disney bubble,” where bad things could never happen. However, it’s important to keep in mind that, just like in the real world, accidents and misfortunate events can happen in the parks and resorts. Here are a few tips to help keep everyone safe and happy during your next Walt Disney World vacation.
Image: No one wants to get hurt or taken advantage of while on vacation. Continue reading for some easy tips that will help you the next time you venture to the World.
Every year, millions of people travel to the Walt Disney World Resort to create memories that will last a lifetime. This includes those of various ages, backgrounds, cultures, and abilities. In order to keep everyone safe, Walt Disney cast members are trained in specific procedures that ensure guests can experience the resorts, attractions, and entertainment safely. In fact, safety is the first of four quality standards – followed by courtesy, show, and efficiency – that guide the operational decisions of employees. With this being said, guests play an important role in their own safety whether it be during their time spent in the resorts, pools, or theme parks.
Image: Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
When traveling to Walt Disney World, it is important to take the same precautions as you would at home. This includes being mindful of your valuables and family members. Those things that you would not normally do at home shouldn’t be done on Mickey’s home turf no matter how safe a person feels at the moment. It only takes one window to open up an entryway to mishaps or danger. First and foremost, safety must be considered when staying at your Walt Disney World resort.
- Lock Your Doors: Most people now-a-days would not leave their cars or homes unlocked. Unfortunately, there are those that become masked by the pixie dust of a Disney vacation who make such poor choices during their stay. Be mindful to lock your car (rental or your own) before leaving it unattended. Any electronics, wallets, handbags, etc. that are visible should either be taken with you or concealed in a location such as a trunk. Don’t invite thieves into your vehicle!
- The same rule holds true for your resort room door. I have observed guests leaving the door wide open to strangers a countless number of times. Would you do this at home? I know that I certainly wouldn’t even though I live in a very safe neighborhood. Sure, I’ve been there and have been tempted to prop open the door when running down the hall to the ice machine, but the the potential consequences of doing so are just not worth it. One does not know who will be walking by or what their intent is, so stay safe and keep your room door locked at all times. This includes using the deadbolt and latch, which also protects small children from leaving the room without being noticed.
- Protect Your Valuables: All Disney resort rooms are equipped with an in-room safe. Use it to store valuable items when you’re away from the room. This includes cell phones (that you won’t need during your outing), laptops, iPads, eReaders, and jewelry. Consider storing your chargers in there as well, so that they don’t provide clues as to what electronics may be inside the room. I always cringe when guests tell me they merely hide things in a suitcase or dresser drawer. Those are the first places that thieves look when robbing hotel rooms.
Image: Resort bell services can assist you in keeping your luggage secure.
- If your room is not ready upon arrival or the item in question is too large for the room safe, you still have a few options. If you are staying at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin, bell services has a secured storage area where items can be placed into a locked cage. While this is not an option at Disney resorts, they do have safety deposit boxes available for guest use at the front desk. They come in two sizes and are similar to those you’d find in your local bank. Bell services also stores items, but does not guarantee their safety. In this situation, consider using a TSA-approved lock and place the item in your suitcase before giving it over to storage. This will help you feel secure and keep your valuables safe.
- Beware of Phone Scams: Let’s face it, there’s bad people out there who want to scam tourists. Unfortunately, these individuals become more and more creative every year in how they access your money or possessions. I recently had a startling experience while staying at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. While getting ready one morning, a woman called the room asking if I saw a necklace that she had left there. I told her that it wasn’t to be found and to call the front desk if she had concerns. Some five minutes later, a man – presumably her husband being that I heard the woman in the background – called stating that his wife had dropped her necklace in the room and needed to get in to retrieve it. Good story, right? Wrong.
- After speaking with a friend of mine, I reported this to the front desk and later spent time speaking with Walt Disney World Security. It seems that such a scam has taken place elsewhere on property. Be cautious and vigilant. If someone calls your room asking to get in, don’t let them. Instead, report it to the front desk immediately even if you think it could have been someone who genuinely needed help. This will assist security cast members in doing their job. Also, remember that resort cast members are not permitted to call your room asking for private information like credit card or social security numbers; be wary if someone does so even if they say that they are calling from the front desk. Instead of providing the information, let the person know that you’ll stop by the lobby at your earliest convenience.
- Disney Security: Walt Disney employs dozens of cast members who patrol the resorts and parks 24 hours a day. This is done by foot, bicycle, and vehicle. Don’t be hesitant to contact security if you need to regardless of how small your concern might be. If you feel unsafe, report it and get the help that you need. Likewise, remember to use 911 in the event of life-threatening emergencies.
- Even though security cast members are on regular patrol, be mindful of your surroundings when returning to the parks at night. Be sure to bring your eye glasses if you have difficulty seeing in the dark. Stay on the main paths and walkways, and be sure to walk in a pair or group whenever possible. If you have a cell phone, keep it readily available at night in case you need to use it.
Image: Guests enjoy the pool at Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park.
- Play Safely: Ask most children what their favorite part of a vacation was, and they will undoubtedly tell you about their resort pool or trip to a water park. While having fun in the water is a great way to beat the heat, it’s important for children and adults alike to play safely. Adhere to the posted rules near swimming pools and waterslides. Don’t be a “show-off” and attempt a swan dive in the shallow end. Running on wet pavement can lead to falls or collisions, so make sure you take your time. You never know who is about to round the corner.
Image: A family enjoys a warm summer day in the water.
- Listen to the Lifeguards: Lifeguards are posted at the pools for a reason: to keep you safe. If they ask you to stop doing something, listen to them. Recognize that they are not there to be a jail warden, but instead allow everyone to have a wonderful time without injury. Once the whistle blows, you know that it’s time to give attention to directions and follow-through with requests.
- Be Mindful of Pool Hours: Recently, a devastating story hit the news of a young boy drowning in a pool at Disney’s Pop Century Resort. The accident occurred after the posted pool hours. While I am not immune to swimming after a late night at the parks, I feel that it is important for others to know when the pools technically “close.” Disney alerts guests that lifeguards are off duty at a certain time of each day; anyone who chooses to swim beyond this is doing so at his or her own risk. Be mindful of the pool hours especially if you have children and know that there may not be an extra set of eyes watching them when you turn away.
Image: Disney guests have fun and stay safe at the same time.
- Obey the Rules: Think back to elementary school. Rules are rules and even if you are at Walt Disney World having the time of your life, you still need to obey them. Disney has an entire team of experts that not only designed the rides, but also their safety features. If you are told to put on a seat belt, you will be expected to do so. Steer clear of the gates and railways that separate you from ride vehicles and tracks. These deterrents will keep you a reasonable distance away from the machinery to prevent injury.
Image: A Safety Sign Posted at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park
- Don’t Ignore the Safety Signs: Disney attractions are meant for enjoyment. Outside them, you will see posted signs listing information about the ride and who it might not be suitable for. Don’t ignore the signs! If you have a heart condition, are pregnant, or are sensitive to certain stimuli, you could have a negative experience that could even result in injury. No E-Ticket attraction is worth that.
- Pack Wisely: If you must take a bag into the parks, choose one that is reasonable in size. No one wants to lug around a huge amount of weight when he’s trying to enjoy the parks. Select a bag that is small to medium in size and can be worn across the body, if possible. Backpacks are easier for thieves to get into, but if you choose this style, be sure to avoid putting valuables in the front pockets. When getting onto an attraction, secure your bag so that items do not fall out of it and look around you when exiting.
Image: Talking to your children about ways to stay safe can help them enjoy their vacation without worry.
- Safeguard Your Children: There are many, many ways to help your children stay safe when at the parks. Consider having younger children wear a bracelet or temporary tattoo (these can be ordered online) with your cell phone number in case they get lost. Older children should know of a designated area to meet you if they somehow get separated from the group. Regardless of age, talk to your kids about following the rules and what to do if they need help. Point out cast member uniforms and name badges so they know who can be trusted. Discussions like this ahead of time will help prepare children in the event of an emergency.
All in all, Walt Disney World is an incredibly safe place to visit either alone or with others. The attractions, shows, and entertainment are sure to allow you to escape from reality while on vacation. With this being said, make sure to use common sense when traveling and touring the parks. A little bit of caution goes a long way.
What tips do you have for staying safe at Walt Disney World? Share your thoughts here, and let me know how it has helped you and your family.
Walt Disney World Media
Disney Parks Report on Safety, 2008
Category: Disney World