There are few things in life more thrilling, exhilarating, and euphoria-inducing than a trip to Disney World. But you know what’s not-so-fun? Dying. Yeah, that would really put a damper on that whole Disney vacation situation that you and your family have been fantasizing about all year!
And right about now you’re probably wondering why in the WORLD we’re writing about this! ;-D Well…we’ve had a LOT of emails, direct messages, and comments recently from readers, followers, and viewers asking if we think the Disney World Skyliner is really “safe.” Yep, even before the recent Skyliner accident, we had some very concerned folks who wanted to know our take on the whole “will I survive my ride in the sky?” question.
So here at DFB Headquarters we thought it would be a good idea to take a look at the question just how “safe” is Disney World? — from transportation options to rides and attractions to external threats. What exactly happens on- and off-stage to keep you and your family safe while you’re there?
So are you going to die at Disney World? Probably not. Here’s why.
Concern #1: Transportation
Most immediate in our minds, of course, is the recent Disney Skyliner collision that left guests stranded in the air for over 3 hours. What a major bummer for everyone involved (especially ’cause it happened less than a week after the Skyliner had debuted!), but although guests were very inconvenienced by the event, they were also quite safe the whole time they were stuck.
The collision that occurred wasn’t a major accident in that people were harmed, but rather the gondolas experienced a malfunction causing them to back up in the station and stop the lines.
And any time a Disney attraction has a “hiccup” (or in this case, a REALLY big hiccup!), Disney immediately stops the ride and performs a multi-step safety check to protect guests from any further malfunctioning. Chances are, you’ve probably experienced a few safety checks before on a Disney ride without ever realizing it when your vehicle paused momentarily and then resumed motion once again when the issue was all-cleared!
There have also been several concerns raised over the years with Disney World’s Monorail System. And in fact, its track record has been less than stellar at times. We’re talkin’ train pieces falling off and doors opening while the train’s in motion. Yeah, although it’s an iconic part of the Disney World, it can also be one sketchy ride every once in a while!
In 2009, following a fatal crash involving the Purple Monorail, Disney World stopped allowing guests to ride in the front driver car as an extra safety measure. (Guests are still able to ride in the front driver car in Disneyland.) Disney inspects the cars and tracks daily to ensure these sorts of incidents don’t repeat.
If you heed the warnings to keep clear of the doors (por favor manténganse alejado de las puertas) and not to lean against them, you probably won’t fall out ;-D. But in all seriousness, although your safety is paramount to Disney while you’re on their property, it should still be a major concern of yours as well. Make sure you read all of the posted signs and listen to the safety recordings, too!
So, while it’s had maintenance issues and can be inconvenient, there’s no empirically sound reason to think that the Disney World monorail is a particularly dangerous mode of transportation.
Buses and Watercraft
Same rules apply here, folks. Buses and boats at Disney operate in the same real-world rules as they do outside those magical welcome gates.
While there have been accidents in the past, they are primarily inconveniencing rather than injurious. Buses and boats at Disney are safe and reliable forms of guest transportation, but they are still large moving vehicles. Remain seated or hold on to safety handles and do as the drivers instruct at all times. Buses and watercraft will not be overloaded in order to maintain guest safety.
Concern #2: Attractions
From thrilling roller coasters that whip you around like a ragdoll to thirteen-story repeated freefall drops, Disney World attractions are comprised of highly sophisticated computer systems and machinery intent on making your adrenaline spike — safely. You’ll enjoy many unforgettable experiences the Disney parks.
None of these are life-threatening, but at the same time, you may be asking yourself, “Will I actually make it off this thing in one piece?”
Hey, it’s a totally fair question to ask yourself! But rest assured, there are many safety measures in place for these rides in order for them to operate at Disney World continuously on a daily basis for the millions of guests that visit each year.
Ride and Attraction Safety Procedures
Every morning before the parks open, Cast Members perform safety checks by cycling the ride vehicles and walking through the entire length of the ride tracks. This process is usually verified by a second Cast Member so there are at least two sets of eyes on everything.
Then there are the third-shift Cast Members, including ride mechanics and ride safety specialists, who work overnight every night on each attraction to run routine safety inspections, address any bugs that may have popped up during the day, and of course, ensure the attraction is safe for guests the following day.
There are also many sensors and fail-safes in place throughout each attraction that at a moment’s notice will immediately stop a ride if something goes awry. (That explains one of the reasons why sometimes your Doombuggy pauses! Other reasons for ride vehicles stopping or slowing include allowing guests with mobility difficulties on and off the ride — another safety measure.)
The Cast Members of each attraction are thoroughly trained to know all of the safety features that are specific to the ride they’re assigned and will respond swiftly and accordingly should something go wrong.
Height requirements are also set for each attraction to ensure your and your family’s safety when riding them, and sometimes your littles will need to pass through two height checkpoints to verify they’re tall enough to ride, just to be on the safe side! But as a Disney World guest, it’s important to do your part to help ensure your safety as well. If your child is too short, don’t try to cheat the system.
But even though these security measures are in place, it’s still up to you to look out for your own safety. Read the posted warnings and make sure you are physically able to handle the ride you’re about to step onto and don’t have any medical issues that might be exacerbated by the attraction.
Once aboard, be sure to listen carefully and abide by the Cast Members instructions to keep your lap belt fastened, remove any loose articles that may fly off during the ride, and keep your hands and arms inside the ride vehicle at all times, people! And of course, no wild dancing.
Concern #3: Wildlife
While we would like to think that Disney World exists in its own safe little bubble, the reality is that Disney World is located smack dab in the middle of Central Florida, a.k.a. a literal swampland. There are many native animals (including potentially dangerous snakes and reptiles) that inhabited these lands long before Mickey Mouse came along, and they continue to live there to this day.
Disney World attempts to prevent potentially dangerous brushes with wildlife from occurring by monitoring their grounds, posting signage near potentially hazardous areas, and creating physical barriers where deemed necessary. Disney does routinely patrol the waters for wildlife and relocates any found to safe locations.
However, even without a sign, rope, or fence, don’t assume it’s safe to leave small children unattended, or to be less than cautious yourself, especially around the lakes, lagoons, and places where alligators and snakes may have taken up residence. The threat of wildlife is probably one of the most significant for you when in Walt Disney World, so be diligent.
Concern #4: Outside Threats
Like we said before, Disney World exists in the real world, and not some fairy tale. It is situated in a heavily-populated area of the country (with Disneyland being even more densely surrounded), and is visited by multi-millions every year.
Disney employs a large team of diligent, dedicated security Cast Members who take your safety very seriously. A Disney spokesperson says this of Disney’s security: “We have a comprehensive approach to security that includes measures that are visible and others that are not.”
You know those screening Cast Members at bag check every morning who ask you to open every zipper and every pouch inside your bag? That thoroughness is all for you! These cast members are checking for weapons (Disney has also instituted metal detectors at all park entrances now), glass, illegal items, and alcohol, among other banned items or contraband.
Plus, the Disney parks’ security department extends to other employees you won’t see at all on your visit! Disney has “plain clothes operatives,” or PCO’s, that are exactly what they sound like: security dressed in seemingly every day, “plain” attire. There is also local law enforcement outside of Disney World that work daily with the resort to ensure guest safety. You probably have never detected these special operators, but trust us, they’re all around you when you’re visiting Disney World!
Airspace is also restricted in the 3,000 feet above, and in a three-mile radius of, Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom. Aircraft can fly higher than 3,000 feet over the Magic Kingdom, but they can’t get any closer than that.
So while Disney World is vulnerable to outside threats, they’ve put policies and procedures into place — many just in the last 20 years — to lower the risk of an attack of any kind in the parks. You’re likely safer here than you are in your shopping mall back home.
So Just How “Safe” Is Disney World?
Have people died in Disney World? Yes. There is a belief that Disney World insists that death pronouncements happen off property so that there’s no record of anyone having actually died within the resort gates. We’re not sure how true that is, but either way, there have been fatal accidents both recently and in the past. And while accidents can and do happen in Disney World, they are thankfully VERY few and far between.
Over 50 million — 50 MILLION — people visit Walt Disney World every year, and the fact that accidents here usually still make the national news means that they’re not prevalent (if they were, they wouldn’t be “news”). Rest assured, Disney World is just as safe — if not significantly safer — than many other places in the country.
These parks and resorts have a vested interest in ensuring that you have a positive experience, and there are many people who are working to make sure that happens so that you’ll return for another vacation. Disney is all about guest satisfaction and guests can’t be satisfied if, well…they’re in danger.
So if you’re concerned about the Skyliner, Tower of Terror, Rock and Roller Coaster, or any other thrill ride or transportation option in Disney World, I hope this article has put your mind at least a bit more at ease. Nope; you’re probably NOT going to die in Disney World.
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Do you feel like Disney provides adequate safety precautions to its guests? Let us know your Disney World safety concerns in the comments below!