National Security & Defense

Security Theater Comes to Disney World Resort

(Benoit Tessier/Reuters)
A draconian new policy could allow the invasion of guests’ privacy without making anyone safer.

Just when you thought Disney World couldn’t be a bigger nightmare, new security measures at some of its hotels are basically allowing Mickey Mouse and his obnoxious friends to invade your room.

According to a piece in the Miami Herald, Walt Disney World Resort Hotels has removed the “do not disturb” signs from the rooms in three of its hotels and replaced them with “room occupied” signs as part of a new security policy. What’s more, a Disney cast member will now be required to enter each hotel room at least once per day to “ensure gun safety,” according to Walt Disney World News today.

Disney has not explicitly stated its reasons for the new policy, but it seems to have been implemented in response to October’s Las Vegas shooting, when a man was able to enter a hotel room with a boatload of weapons and subsequently murder 58 people.

Now, while I do appreciate that Disney wants to keep people safe, this is, quite frankly, a stupid idea. Stupid . . . but not surprising. After all, responding to violent incidents with overzealous, privacy-invading security theater is exactly what the government has been doing for years.

The best example of this, of course, is the TSA. In the name of “safety,” you’re more likely to miss your flight because you’re stuck standing in line, and you’re guaranteed to have to spend upwards of $45 on a bottle of water because you can’t bring your own with you. You have to take your shoes off. Your clip-in hair extensions will set off the metal detector, and then you’ll have to be patted down by an officer who knows that you’re actually spending your life walking around wearing someone else’s hair.

In some instances, the problems with the TSA have even crossed over from annoying to abusive: In March, a woman had to endure a “pat-down” of the inside of her underwear — something that sounds more like a sexual assault than a safety precaution — because she was wearing a panty liner. That same month, a 13-year-old boy with a sensory-processing disorder was reportedly traumatized after having to endure an absurdly detailed, brutally long “pat down” because he had left his laptop in his bag — an incident that also caused him and his family to miss their flight.

The worst part, of course, is that the world isn’t really any safer from terrorism because of any of this. Anyone who wants to go through with a terror plot, or any kind of violence, can always just hit a “soft target” — such as the outside of an airport — instead.

The worst part, of course, is that the world isn’t really any safer from terrorism because of any of this.

The exact same thing is true of this Disney World policy. First of all, it’s not hard to see how these new rules could ruin a vacation. Imagine this: You put up that “room occupied” sign, get into the bathtub, and put on some relaxing music. A Disney cast member — who knows only that the room is occupied, and not that it’s occupied by someone who doesn’t want to be bothered — starts knocking on the door. You can’t hear the knock over your music, and the next thing you know . . . a cartoon character is looking at you naked.

Make no mistake: Disney’s new policy destroys the entire decompress-and-chill aspect of any vacation. Instead, you have to sit in your hotel room on edge all the time, knowing that at any moment, you might be expected to respond quickly to a knock at your door or else be joined by a dude in a Goofy suit. That doesn’t exactly sound relaxing — and, as it stands now, it isn’t going to make anyone any safer.

Again, anyone who is really interested in hotel-based violence could probably get away with it regardless of this policy. He could make sure his weapons are easy to hide at a moment’s notice, and stay in his room to make sure that no one goes through his stuff. If a cast member tried to interfere in some way, then he could use the weapons on that person.

Honestly, the only way that Disney could even hope to guarantee complete safety would be to arm its cast members with military-grade artillery, allowing them to enter into any room at any moment without knocking, and demanding that they search through everyone’s stuff. Yes, Las Vegas was terrifying and tragic, but would anyone really want to stay in a hotel that’s overrun with a gun-wielding, cartoon-costume-wearing army?

That kind of scene may sound far-fetched, but when you think about it, it’s really not. After all, our society clearly has a penchant for valuing a false sense of security over privacy and civil liberties. People will willingly accept government surveillance and unnecessarily invasive pat-downs just because they’re told those measures are for their own “safety,” without thinking about whether that’s true — or about the liberty that’s being lost in the process.

READ MORE:

NSA’s Illegal Surveillance of Americans & Obama Administration Abuse

We Need NSA Surveillance

Obama’s Political Spying Scandal

— Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review Online.

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