Disney Park Evacuated: Security Measures Prompt Removal of Thousands

in Disney Parks, Walt Disney World

Guests entering Disney's Hollywood Studios Theme Park at Walt Disney World Resort

Credit: Paul Hudson, Flickr

Disney takes extreme measures to ensure that all guests are out of their theme parks when they shut down at the end of the night, and now, we have an exact insight as to what they truly do on a night-to-night basis to keep the parks safe from guests trying to sneak in overnight.

A woman dressed as cinderella interacts warmly with a young girl in a purple princess dress. they are surrounded by elegant curtains and floral decorations.
Credit: Disney

While enjoying the myriad attractions, captivating shows, delightful character encounters, and picturesque photo opportunities at Disney, guests must always remember that they are traversing private property and are thus beholden to Disney’s set of rules and regulations.

Our coverage has previously delved into instances where guests have faced lifetime bans for transgressing these rules at Walt Disney World Resort. One notable incident involved a guest who decided, while at Magic Kingdom, to venture into the restricted gravestone area of the Haunted Mansion queue and recline as if they were one of the 999 Happy Haunts, despite clear indications that this area was off-limits.

Such actions not only constitute trespassing but also pose inherent safety risks, given that guests should refrain from scaling gates or venturing into restricted areas. Additionally, there have been cases of guests attempting to enter the parks and spend the night surreptitiously.

Statue of a man pointing, accompanied by a cartoon mouse, in front of a fairytale castle under a blue sky with clouds, surrounded by visitors.
Credit: Javier Parigini, Flickr

In a recent incident at Disneyland Resort, a guest was met with a lifetime ban after covertly gaining entry and endeavoring to overnight in one of the park’s restrooms. YouTube personality Pete Z chronicled his attempt to infiltrate Disneyland, fashioning a fake employee ID card and ultimately being apprehended by security.

Such endeavors contravene park policies and can carry serious repercussions, potentially including legal consequences such as arrest. In Pete Z’s case, he even resorted to scavenging through discarded items and consuming remnants of a churro in a bid to avoid spending any money during his illicit escapade.

Despite his efforts, security eventually discovered him in the restroom, prompting him to brandish what he claimed was a trespass notice. Acts of this nature are unequivocally prohibited and can precipitate severe penalties.

Well, to ensure things like that do not happen, Disney has protocols in place. USA Today spent an evening with Disney at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to see how things are done at the end of the night and how guests are inspired to move to the exit without feeling too forced to immediately leave as soon as the park closes.

Entrance of Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort under an overcast sky, featuring art deco-style architecture and three flags atop, with a large crowd of visitors in front.
Credit: Ed Aguila, Inside the Magic

“We have very highly trained cast members to do very specialized things at night, and we want to make sure that we keep our guests and our cast members safe,” Jackie Swisher, Vice President of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, said. “So there absolutely are processes to make sure that before any of those activities start, that guests are safely on their way home or back to their resort.”

Disney has a process called clearing the park. “We do that in each of our operations, whether it’s a restaurant or an attraction or show like Fantasmic,” Swisher said.

The procedure differs depending on the venue, but during USA Today’s visit to Slinky Dog Dash, cast members took steps to ensure that no one else joined the queue after the last guests at park closing. Subsequently, they ensured that these guests exited the ride and proceeded towards the park exit upon completion of their experience.

Cast members work hard to clear the land by blocking sections until they can effectively squeeze everyone out of the park.

Beginning from the rear near Galaxy’s Edge, numerous cast members efficiently restricted access to sections that had been cleared. Progressing section by section towards the park’s front, they ensured that guests did not unnecessarily backtrack.

Streetscape at Hollywood Studios
Credit: Disney

However, there was no sense of urgency in the process. When one of the final guests requested a cast member to capture one last photo of their group in the nearly deserted area, the cast member readily obliged. Additional cast members were positioned along the exit route, guiding guests with illuminated wands and bidding them farewell.

Disney also spoke about how they overly staff merchandise locations, especially toward the front of the park in the evening as more guests want to shop at night as the stores stay open after the park closes, and then, guests can buy what they would like without having to lug it around the park with them all day.

Much like how merchandise locations are open past park close, Disney also ensures that all guests who get in line for a ride before park close get to ride. So, if you hop in the queue for Tower of Terror at 8:58 p.m. and the park closes two minutes later, you will still be able to ride, even if the line has a two-hour wait. All Disney does is close off the entrance of the line at closing.

Star Wars Launch Bay at Disney's Hollywood Studios
Credit: Brittany DiCologero

“We want to make sure that all those guests in the queue get a chance to experience that attraction,” Swisher said. “We’re not shuttling guests out, but we’re allowing them to finish out that day and making sure that there’s magic in every moment.”

The same is true for guests with late dining reservations.

“Sometimes the reason why someone in a restaurant might be out as the very last guest for the evening is because they were celebrating something really amazing, and you get a chance to get engaged at that moment with those guests,” Swisher said.

All of that being said, Disney has security operating all day and night, to ensure that there is no one left behind. “We’re a 24/7 operation here at Walt Disney World, and so we have cast members working all the time to make sure that everything runs as smoothly as possible,” Swisher said.

The same is valid for Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and EPCOT.

Did you know of these protocols that Walt Disney World Resort instills at the end of each park night? 

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