Disney Theme Parks Increasingly Violent, No Longer Safe?

A new notice on the Disney website responds to an uptick in violence at the company's theme parks.

By Sean Thiessen | Published

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The Happiest Place on Earth has had an uptick in not-so-happy moments this past year. A KTLA Los Angeles news report highlighted a new “Courtesy” section on the Disney parks websites, an apparent response to recent violent altercations that have taken place within Disneyland and Disney World. The change comes at a time of increasing ticket prices and political controversy for Disney parks.

The “Courtesy” section sits on Disneyland’s list of “Top Things You Should Know,” a page that supplies visitors with information about how to prepare for a visit to Disney parks. The “Courtesy” blurb is a plea to visitors to treat all others in the park with respect for the safety and enjoyment of everyone, followed by a link to the park’s rules. The Disney World website, though worded differently, makes the same request of its guests and warns that failure to comply will result in removal from the park.

These website additions come after a reported increase in violent altercations at the Disney parks in Anaheim, CA and Orlando, FL. One such altercation was a fight that took place during the Fantasmic celebration at Disneyland back in May. The Anaheim police have issued several citations for violence to visitors removed from Disneyland, and fights and screaming matches have continued to be reported at the Florida park.

Disneyland has not made any official comment about an increase in violence within its parks.

Disney parks’ new “Courtesy” additions to their websites came in December; Disneyland’s coming shortly after that of its Florida-based counterpart. Though the added sections are a small gesture, they point to a problem for the parks that is big enough to address. The concession that violence at Disney parks needs to be addressed may leave some questioning the safety of the popular vacation destinations.

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Additions to Disney park websites are drops in the bucket when it comes to changes happening for Disney, not just at the parks, but across the entire company. Ride closures and overhauls, character swaps within the parks, layoffs and hiring freezes, and political controversy in Florida have made for a tumultuous time for Disney. The company even saw a surprise change in leadership this year with the departure of CEO Bob Chapek and the reinstatement of former (and now current) Disney boss Bob Iger. 

While some of the changes at Disney parks are raising concerned eyebrows, others have come on more positive winds of change. The company has stepped up its efforts at inclusion by adjusting gendered language in its announcements and adding dolls in wheelchairs to the “It’s a Small World” ride.  

Questionable conditions at the Disney parks have been making headlines recently, and the reported uptick in aggressive and violent altercations within the castle walls represents a trend in the wrong direction. As Disney fights to evolve with the culture and maintain its reputation (and make money, of course), time will tell if pleas for courtesy will be enough to increase declining safety at the happiest places on Earth.