Since 1955, Walt Disney World is well known by its slogan, “The Happiest Place on Earth.” Tourists worldwide have flocked to Orlando to visit the famed resort to experience the feeling promised by the famed tagline. Combined with employees and vendors, the population within the park can reach a quarter-million.
Large crowds create a chaotic atmosphere where confusion and frustration reign. Visitors wait in long lines for hours to experience the famed rides. Others experience technical glitches with FastPasses.
For Disney World employees, their workplace can be far from anything resembling happy. Those on the “front lines” feel their guests’ frustration, which often takes the form of verbal abuse that sometimes results in physical assaults.
According to 50 law enforcement reports reviewed by The Orlando Sentinel, including nine this year, the Magical Kingdom can become a very dangerous workplace in a split second. Taking into account that many acts of aggression go unreported, the number is likely higher. The emotional toll is only the beginning as staff runs the risk of suffering a serious workplace injury.
Specific guest-on-employee attacks include:
- A guest punching a staffer over not having a FastPass to Tower of Terror
- A tourist showing up at the wrong time for his FastPass at Magic Kingdom yelled at an employee who relented and let him on the ride, only to be spun around by her shoulders by the guest who screamed, “I’m not your slave”
- An oil scientist ramming a stroller repeatedly into a worker when asked to leave a Magic Kingdom viewing area
- A mother of a Make-A-Wish child pushing a worker who barely missed falling on the Peter Pan ride moving platform because the employee would not stop the ride to remove her kid’s medical equipment
- An attendee pushing a Disney employee over impatience exiting Splash Mountain that had broken down
Disney leaves it up to staff to pursue criminal charges. Regardless of their decision, the park will ban guests for life over attacks. The consequences to hard-working employees are the emotional and physical damage done that can affect their abilities to do their respective jobs.