Some of you may have seen a story written by Gabrielle Russon last week in the Orlando Sentinel about Disney cast members being harassed, sometimes physically, by guests not wanting to follow the health and safety protocol that has been put into place with guidelines such as wearing face masks at all times when on Disney property. The story details the incidents that were serious enough to warrant a police report. While I won't share all of Gabrielle's stories in her article, I will share this first one; you can head to her article to read about the others.
A security guard reminded a guest to put on his mask before he walked into Disney World’s Contemporary Resort near the Magic Kingdom last month.
“I’m a guest,” argued the middle-aged, fedora-wearing man. He asked to be left alone.
Then he spat, and some of his saliva hit the guard’s forehead.
I have been thinking about the Sentinel's story all week and how much it bothers me that Disney cast members are being taken advantage of by unruly guests who want to visit Disney's properties but do not want to follow the rules. People actually think that they do not have to follow the rules because they are a guest. See, that isn't how this works.
You may have heard me mention my feelings on last week’s DIS Unplugged show about people choosing to visit locations that have rules they require their visitors to follow. Disney theme parks are no different. The stories I read last week shook me to my core and included cast members being spit on, pushed, kicked, and yelled at by guests who had to be reminded about Disney’s pandemic requirements like how face masks must cover both your mouth and your nose – a concept that many still don't understand A WHOLE YEAR into this – for one reason or another.
I’m pretty sure we all learned back in kindergarten that rules are meant to be followed whether we agree with them or not, and I still feel that way. It's a straightforward concept, really. I do not understand why adults out there seem to think that just because they disagree with certain rules, they don’t need to follow them when visiting places like Disney theme parks. It feels like nowadays, either they don’t follow them, or they make fun of those who do, which is just as ridiculous, in my opinion.
I understand that we have all been dealing with Covid for over a year now, and we are all tired of all the things that go along with it. The face masks, the sanitizer, the avoiding public places altogether, the kids not going to school, not being able to travel, and the list goes on forever, it seems. The thing about it is that the Covid pandemic is far from over.
As I write this article, we have three large companies distributing vaccines like crazy, but vaccinated people can still get Covid and transmit it to other people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) even states that they are "still learning how vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19." The bottom line is that we are not out of the woods just yet, and it’s still going to take some time before we can all just go back to doing whatever we want like we did in pre-Covid times.
Even though the CDC updated their guidelines Monday to state that “after you’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should keep taking precautions in public places like wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces until we know more.” Also, you “can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.”
It’s my opinion, based on photos I’ve seen posted on social media that there are a decent number of folks who have already been doing all of the above for months regardless of the CDC’s recommendations that were just revised yesterday.
Now back to my original point, I will say that I realize that cast members who accept Disney jobs are given an understanding of what the job entails. Anytime you are dealing with the public, you are bound to have to deal with unruly customers.
People nowadays seem to lose their minds instantly, going from calm to completely irrational at a moment's notice. The mere polite mention of wearing a face mask properly sends them into a whirl. Imagine being a cast member just trying to do your job and share the magic with guests. Imagine that you were one of those cast members who was laid off last year from a job that you love, and you've accepted a different and possibly less-desirable position so that you could return to work. Imagine how excited cast members were actually returning to work and getting a bit of income only to be harassed by guests who don’t want to follow the rules.
I find it absurd that there are still people – A WHOLE YEAR LATER – who continue to try to buck the system. I worked in the education industry for many years and still can’t wrap my head around why adults don’t think they have to abide by rules when children are always expected to.
If you've got an upcoming trip planned to visit a Disney theme park, please, for the love of everything, follow the simple guidelines while you're there.