Al Qaeda vs. The Mouse

A mouse tail of security at one of America's favorite vacation destinations


Those that are regular readers (both of you) may have noticed that I was conspicuous by my absence last week. I observed the first anniversary of my association with Officer.com by making a pilgrimage, as millions have done before me, to a hallowed place south and east where offerings are made to the graven image of a sacred, holy beast. The beast in question is a rodent that, unlike those found in nature, has impossibly large, black ears and wears bright yellow shoes. I spent last week at Disney World.

I have said this many times: what Disney does, they do better than anyone else in the world. Part of this is because they have 50 years of practice at running theme parks, and part is because they are constantly fine tuning their game. There is no "because we're always done it that way" at Disney. If something isn't as perfect as it can possibly be, it is re-engineered. This results in a near-complete suspension of disbelief for the "guests" in the park, and helps them to forget that they just dropped $10 for a huge Mickey hand on a stick that is going to become landfill as soon as their kid sees some other trinket he or she wants.

Disney has always encouraged partnering with corporate America to sponsor or build the attractions in their parks. Kodak is behind several very good 3-D shows, and while the Test Track at Epcot is a pretty good ride, it is also a shameless commercial for General Motors. They may have taken these marketing opportunities a bit too far, though. A small sign found above the sinks in many Disney rest rooms reads:

  1. Wet hands under faucet.
  2. Dispense soap onto hands - rub briskly.
  3. Rinse hands and dry with paper towel.

The instructions end with the logo of a major paper products manufacturer. If any of you reading this work for this company, please enlighten me: why do you think that anyone who would benefit from a placard like this would know how to read?

In the early 90s, my late wife and I were visiting Disneyland in California, having just attended an officer survival seminar that was presented across the street from the park. I had made arrangements to get a behind-the-scenes tour of Disney Security through a friend with some connections there. I found the briefing fascinating. At that time, Disney would not willingly permit a firearm to be brought onto its property. On duty law enforcement officers with official business at the park were encouraged to wait in the security office while whomever they wanted to see was brought to them. Off duty officers who were carrying guns were asked to store them in the security office. If they refused, they were escorted off the property. Disney won't tell you that you can't carry your gun, but they can refuse your business. The security manager was emphatic that no Disney security officer has even been, or ever will be, armed. I thought this was impressive, but maybe a bit naive. The security manager was apparently oblivious to my wife's 9mm semi-auto, plus two reload magazines, carried in her fanny pack, or the .38 Chief's Special that I was wearing on my ankle. Oh, well--what he didn't know didn't hurt him, or anyone else. Keep in mind, I felt pretty safe in the park. It was the two blocks between the park and the hotel that gave me cause for concern.

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