Happy Thursday Main Streeters. Last week, I shared some tips on staying safe when lodging on property at the Happiest Place on Earth. By on property, I mean Disney hotels, from the value resorts to the Grand Floridian. These all have amenities you can take advantage of to keep your valuables safe, so if you are planning a trip to Disney soon and plan to bring valuables with you, make sure you call ahead and ask about the safeguards that meet your specific needs before deciding on where to stay on property.
I also briefly touched upon a skill that will keep you safe not only on-property but also at the parks. The skill of situational awareness (SA). TMSM Staff Writer Susanne recently reported that Walt Disney World increased its security budget in the wake of recent tragedies that have been springing up across the United States. I don’t know about you, but Disney to me has always been a place to escape the tragedies of the real world, and immerse myself in carefree joy and Mickey Premium Bars. In my real life job, I work in a field where tragedy and crime is all too real, so Disney is a welcomed distraction. When increased security measures starting popping up at Disney parks after September 11th, 2001 it became clear and evident to me that not even Walt Disney World was immune to the perils of the world. Security at the parks has evolved over time with the addition of metal detectors, random screenings and other measures the public may not be privy to. This recent report of increased budget for Security is a clear indication that even internally those that craft and continue Walt’s legacy of making Disney a magical place aren’t taking any chances. Disney is doing their part to keep the parks safe, so what can you do to keep yourself safe?
Develop your situational awareness
Simply stated; know what is going on around you. I am not advocating you visit the parks in a paranoid state but be mindful of what you witness and how you feel. Sometimes your body will react without your mind realizing it, and that is something people loosely refer to as “Spidey sense”. If something doesn’t look right, don’t ignore it. Let a cast member know what you witnessed, and let them handle it.
If someone or a situation makes you nervous, or uncomfortable, put as much distance between yourself and that person or situation as possible, and always inform a cast member if the situation persists. Instances like being followed around the park, or someone standing too close to you in a threatening manner, you or your belongings being touched inappropriately should be reported immediately.
If something doesn’t feel right, avoid the urge to panic. It is imperative to stay calm. It is also never wise to confront anyone when you are feeling anxious, so make sure to take a few seconds, assess that situation, and make a decision that keeps you safest.
Do your best to take note of identifying information that can help should something happen. Information such as what a person was wearing, their hair and eye color, any facial hair or special markings like tattoos or scars that could easily identify an individual in a sea of guests is incredibly helpful should security or a cast member need to get involved.
Do not leave your valuables unattended
Often when families travel to Disney they do so with strollers and other items to make hauling bags and young children around the park feasible. If you fall into the Happy Family at Disney category and have a stroller, make sure you never leave anything of importance in the stroller when parking it in a designated area to enjoy the rides. Also, do your best to not leave the stroller unattended in open areas. If possible, mark your stroller with something that makes it easily recognizable such as a colorful luggage tag, or a sticker that cannot be easily removed.
If you plan to make purchases of gifts or other items at the park, invest in a locker and store those items and whatever other valuables you have in there. Disney now has lockers with electronic codes that you can program yourself, and these lockers come in various sizes to hold a variety of contents. Recently, my friends and I rented a locker for a party of 12 people to store book bags, purchases, outfit changes, and an assortment of all the things a party of 12 women could possibly need during a bachelorette bash at Magic Kingdom in one of their large lockers. We paid $15 for the rental, and it fit all of those items and still had room for more in it. Worth the investment to not have to worry about lugging our stuff around the park.
Another wonderful amenity at Disney is the ability to have your purchases sent to a pick up location in the park. When you make purchases, you can request that the items selected and paid for be sent to a pick up location. When you are ready to leave, you take the slip you are provided to claim your items to that location and pick them all up. It’s important to note that if you make a purchase and have to leave the park within a half hour to an hour, your items may not make it to the pickup location before you leave and it’s best to keep those items on your person, or rent a locker.
Know your exits:
There is more than one way to get in and out of the park, and if you need to be safe, you should know where your exits are. Every time you enter into a ride, or a space, take note of where you can go should you have to leave quickly. Cast Members are trained to move people to safe locations should there be a crisis, but it’s always a good idea to have that additional situational awareness on where the exits are inside of buildings at the park.
Remember where you park:
In this day and age of keeping our cell phones practically in our hands at all times, make it a point to snap a picture of where you parked in the lot, or send a text message to the people in your travel party in the event your phone dies. This ensures that you have a reference point should you forget if you parked in Villains or Hero’s or if you happen to do some damage on the monorail crawl or Food and Wine festival. Many people are unaware of this, but after a certain point in the evening parking attendants are no longer in the booths at the entrance to the parks and therefore vehicles can enter and roam the parking lot as they please. Nothing is more terrifying than leaving the park late at night and not remembering where your car is parked only to be followed by a random car in an almost empty lot. Avoid this situation at all costs and never get in a car with a stranger when looking for your vehicle.
Any other tips you want to share Main Streeters? How do you stay safe in your Disney bubble?
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