Staying Safe While on a Disney Vacation
by Susan Carver
Law Enforcement Officer
Everyone loves to go on vacation but sometimes when we get to our destination, we forget the small things. Most of these tips are common sense but some of these are regional problems to Central Florida.
The DIS Unplugged is a weekly trip planning podcast with unbiased advice on getting the most from your next Disney vacation. Each week our team of Disney experts tells you what's new, what's good, and what's not-so-good in the world of Disney. New shows are released every Wednesday and can be found at disunplugged.com!
Staying Safe at Walt Disney World— September 5th, 2012
In this episode local law enforcement officer Susan Carver has tips and hints on how to stay safe at Walt Disney World.
Disney, Universal, and Sea World have all been here for a while; they are not going to pack up shop and leave before you get there. Slow down - obey the speed limit, wear your seat belt (it is the law in Florida), turn your headlights on when it's raining, do not text or tweet and drive and keep your doors locked while traveling. Get your family there safely. You traveled all this way so make sure during the last few minutes of your journey you do not get caught up in unsafe behaviors while driving that put you or others in danger. If you get caught speeding you will most likely get a speeding ticket, especially on Disney property. The fines for speeding start well over $100 and move upward for every 10 miles over the speed limit - this is not a way to start your vacation and this is not something you want to have to spend vacation money on.
Do not buy tickets from Internet sites such as Ebay or Craigslist. The same goes for all those little ticket stands you see lining the highways, or anyone claiming you can get "such a great deal!" Most of these tickets have already had one or more days used on them, making them illegal tickets per Florida State Statute 817.361. Buy your tickets from the park or from your tour operator or travel club.
Once you get to the parking lot at the theme parks - turn off the car. Seems silly but it happens. Visitors sometimes get so excited they forget to turn off the car. They see the parking lot tram coming and jump out of the car to catch it - the trams run ALL DAY. Another will be along in a few minutes.
Take time to turn off your car, gather your stuff, make a note of where you parked your vehicle and secure your vehicle. Do not bring valuables with you to the park and then leave them in the car. If you can avoid it, do not bring them at all. Leave valuables in your hotel room safe, take them into the park with you, or as a last resort, hide them in your car but do the hiding before you get to the theme park parking lot you are visiting. When you leave your car no matter where you are or how long you are gone, do not leave cameras, GPS units, purses, bags, computers, iPads, iPods, wallets, keys, etc, in sight. This makes you an easy target.
If you are going to a water park, do not think that it is safe to leave your car unlocked and hide the keys so you do not have to carry them around all day. Get a locker or carry them with you. While inside the parks, do not leave personal things hanging on your strollers while you are enjoying an attraction.
It may surprise you but criminals come to Florida on vacation as well, so do not be an easy target for them. If the crooks see you putting your MacBook Pro in the trunk before you jump on the tram, they may find that so irresistible they might take an afternoon stroll to the parking lot to take that from your car. Cute souvenir items left on a stroller can also be irresistible to criminals who could be watching you as you enter an attraction then take your stuff while you are inside.
Review the floor plan when you get to your room. A few minutes to figure out the quickest way to leave the building can be invaluable in an emergency. Always use the dead bolt when you are in your room. Do not throw the security latch outside your door while you run to get ice. Use your in-room safe to store your valuables.
Be especially wary of unsolicited business flyers left in or under your door. Disney and most other hotels and resorts have NO SOLICITING policies so these flyers were left in your room by trespassers. Always check with the hotel about the validity of any flyer left in your room, especially if they require a credit card number.
While at the pool, do not leave valuables unattended.
Most people shop while they are here visiting. Central Florida has some wonderful shopping malls and outlet shopping centers. Some visitors buy big-ticket items such as Apple products, computers, etc. When you go shopping, do not take your purchases to the car and secure them then go back into the mall or shopping center to continue shopping. Keep your stuff with you until you have made your last stop and you are going back to your hotel room. If you just bought a iPad, a laptop, an Xbox 360, a GPS, a TV or anything else and you take it to your car, lock it up and go back into the mall or the shopping center, you are setting yourself up to be a crime victim. Criminals watch the stores that sell the merchandise they want to steal. They watch you make the purchases and go lock it up in the car. They know you do not want to lug it around with you so they know your next stop is the car. You might be thinking that you will be smarter than the crooks and move your car to another parking place in the parking lot - that is not enough to thwart these thieves. They will watch you and as soon as you leave your car unattended, they hit the car and are gone with your stuff.
Another issue is when you really do leave the store after you just bought that new top-of-the-line laptop at Best Buy or the Apple Store. You secure your items in the trunk of your car then you bee-bop over to a mall, for example, the Mall of Millennia or the Florida Mall - both very close to Best Buy stores. You feel pretty confident your stuff will be there when you come back. Most likely yes it will be, however, Central Florida has had a number of victims whose cars were broken into after buying big ticket items and heading to another store; they were obviously followed. This is not a rampant problem but it has happened multiple times so do not let it happen to you. Keep someone in the car with the stuff or go back to your hotel room to unload the items before continuing your shopping.
If you see anything suspicious, do not hesitate to call 911. I cannot tell you how many times I hear "I'm sorry to bother you," when I respond to a suspicious person call that a citizen or tourist calls in on the 911 line. We do not mind you calling. That is our job. I would much rather you call in to 911 and us get out there to investigate and/or scare away a potential criminal than to take a report because someone has been victimized. So, call 911. We like to catch criminals.
So what should you do if you become a victim? Call 911 to report the crime. Do not wait until you go home. Crimes must be reported in the jurisdiction in which they occur. While you are waiting for an officer to come out to take a report, gather information he or she will need, serial numbers if you have them and your insurance information. If any of your credit cards or checking account information was stolen, call your bank and cancel those accounts immediately. If your checkbook was stolen, call your bank and advise them what happened so they can close your account. A good idea before you leave home is to make copies of your drivers license or passport and write down the account numbers and telephone numbers of your credit cards and keep that information separate from your wallet or purse. In case you do become a victim you can easily cancel your accounts and you will have temporary identification to show airport officials or your consulate that can help you obtain a new passport.
In the tourist areas of Central Florida, crime is overall very low. It is a safe and fun place to be at all hours of the day and night. However, you must do your part to remain vigilant and follow these simple suggestions to keep you and your family from becoming a victim and having your dream vacation ruined.
- Epcot After Hours Wind Down extended through November 9 - Stick around after IllumiNations for an evening at one of 4 exclusive lounges featuring food and beverages from award-winning Epcot chefs and sommeliers.
- Blog - Review: "Guardians of the Galaxy" combines humor, action, and a stellar cast to become the perfect summer blockbuster
- All-Star Music food court closes for refurbishment - The Intermission Food Court will be closed 8/1/14-12/20/14 for refurb.
- New events added to Epcot International Food & Wine Festival - Late Nights LIVE! and new Premium Package events added.
- Astro Orbiter rehab extended by one week - Originally scheduled to end September 19, the ride will now reopen September 28.
- Food & Wine Festival Premium events now available for booking - This includes seminars, signature dining experiences and other special events.
- Changes coming to Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It Street Party? - An update is rumored for this parade later this year, possibly around October. Possible changes are new music; Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Donald moving to the top of the floats; and Stitch joining the fun. Sebastian, Lumiere, and The Mad Hatter will leave the parade.
- During pool rehab, Polynesian guests will have free admission to Blizzard Beach - Originally, the resort guests were just going to be given one-day tickets to the water park, but that has been changed. They will now have complimentary unlimited admission to Blizzard Beach during their stay at the Polynesian.
- List of restaurants participating in the 2015 Disney Dining Plan - This list will be updated as more restaurants are added. Epcot and Downtown Disney restaurants don't normally finalize their participation until later in the year.
- 2015 Magic Your Way Disney World packages released! - A Walt Disney World package is a resort room and theme park admission. The Disney Dining Plan may also be added.
- Happy 15th Birthday to Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith! - The attraction originally opened its doors at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on July 29, 1999.
- Victoria & Albert's will no longer accept Tables in Wonderland - This begins August 1, 2014.
- Summertime Pals Ink & Paint Cel release - This limited release will be available at the event, or pre-order by September 25 at 5:00pm EST.
- Haunted Mansion merchandise shop coming to Magic Kingdom - The former Yankee Trader shop will become a Haunted Mansion merchandise location in the near future. The decor will be inspired by Madame Leota and will carry items from the Haunted Mansion Authentic program, such as apparel, home goods, souvenirs and more.
- Merchandise Events and Artist Appearances/Signings for August - List of authors and artists coming to the theme parks for signings and merchandise releases.
- List of characters updated for Villains Unleashed! event - Over 50 Disney villains will be taking over the park until the 13th hour!
- Beginning today, PhotoPass print packages are no longer offered table-side at character meals - This includes Chef Mickey's, 1900 Park Fare, 'Ohana, Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, Disney's Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show and Tusker House Restaurant.
- Disney Visa cardholders can book Food & Wine Festival events early - Disney Visa cardholders can book special events two days earlier than the general public - on July 29 and July 30 from 7:00am-11:00pm EST.
- Tables in Wonderland adds blackout dates for several restaurants - The Tables in Wonderland program offers Florida Residents, DVC members and Annual Passholders 20% off of all food and beverage purchases at the participating Disney restaurants.
- Information on Holiday sleigh rides at Fort Wilderness - This horse-drawn "sleigh" ride is a fun way to celebrate the season.
- Marketplace menus for Epot International Food & Wine Festival - List of menu items for the marketplaces set up around World Showcase.
- Rehab planned in November for Magic Carpets of Aladdin - The Magic Kingdom attraction will be closed 11/10 - 11/21/2014.
- Food & Wine Festival Special Dining Experiences released - Bookings for these experiences begin July 31.
- 10 Places to Wait Out a Thunderstorm at Walt Disney World
- Disney Castaway Cay Challenge added to Princess Half Marathon Weekend - Runners who are registered for any of the Disney races (5K or longer) during the Weekend have the option to complete the Disney Castaway Cay Challenge when sailing on the Disney Dream February 23-27.
- Fantasia Miniature Golf Course rehab planned off and on for the next two weeks - Gardens Course closed 7/22-7/25/2014, 7/28-8/1/2014, 8/4-8/8/2014. The Fairways will still be open.
- Blog - I Can Go The Distance: Deciding is one thing, registering is another
- Save up to 30% on a Room Only reservation at Walt Disney World! - Valid for stays most nights 10/4/14 - 11/25/14 and 11/29/14 - 12/23/14.
- 2015 WDW hotel discount released for U.S. Military - Valid for stays most nights 9/28/14 - 10/3/15.
- All 3 remaining weekends sold out for Harambe Nights - July 26, August 2 and August 9 are sold out.
- Annual passholder discount for Spice Road Table - Through 9/17/14, Annual Passholders can get a 30% discount on their bill.
- 2015 Military Ticket Discount info released - Members of the military can purchase 4-day Magic Your Way tickets with Park Hopper option for $177 each.
- Changes to reservation times for Wishes Dessert Party - Reservations are all being set for 6:00pm, no matter when Wishes is taking place. The dessert party will actually take place one hour before Wishes.
- Frozen Summer Fun Premium package is sold out for all remaining dates - This package gives guests at Frozen Summer Fun Live reserved viewing for several events.
- Wild by Design tour to be discontinued after 9/26/14 - This tour takes place at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
- Fantasy Football Convention coming to ESPN Wide World of Sports - The convention will give attendees access to ESPN talent, a live fantasy football draft and more.
- Blog - Sneak Preview of What's Coming to the 2014 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival
- Dates and pricing released for ICE! at Gaylord Palms - Using two million pounds of ice, this Gaylord Palms Resort special ticket exhibit will be transformed into the North Pole.
- Blog - Disney's Magical Express Age Limit Changes: A Parent's & Teacher's Perspective
- Blog - Five Reasons Why We're Not Seeing "Planes: Fire & Rescue" in Theaters
- Blog updated - I Just Spent $20 on FastPasses! Would You? - The author has taken the tour she discussed in the blog - check out her thoughts to see if she would do this again!
- Blog - July 2014 Magic Kingdom Construction Update
- Information for Food & Wine Festival special dining experiences - book 7/31 - Premium events will be announced July 24 and can be booked on July 31 beginning at 7:00am EST. To book, call 407-WDW-FEST (939-3378).
- Princess Half Marathon fills in less than 24 hours - The Princess Half Marathon, the Princess Enchanted 10K and the Glass Slipper Challenge are sold out, filling less than 24 hours after registration opened.
- Dolphins at Epcot will be offstage through August 7 - Guests will not be able to see the dolphins at The Seas with Nemo & Friends. The Dolphins in Depth Tour will be unavailable during this time as well.
- Changes in parking due to Downtown Disney Remodel - Speeds in the area will be reduced, as well as lanes closed. Buena Vista Drive will be expanded to 10 lanes.
- Blog - Disney Responds to Disability Access Service Lawsuit
- Walt Disney World exec leaves to head up Disneyland Paris
- SeaWorld no longer partnering with Southwest Airlines
- Walt Disney World 2015 packages now available to book
- High-speed train will link Shanghai Disneyland to city
- "Clyde and Seamore Take Pirate Island" show cancelled at SeaWorld
- PBS plans Walt Disney biopic
- Release date set for 5th Pirates of the Caribbean film
- Man arrested at Typhoon Lagoon for molesting 4 teenage girls
- Standby line to be cut off in Anna and Elsa meet and greet
- Disney's second quarter injury report: 12-year-old boy cuts fingers on Pirates ride