WHERE IS SECURITY?!
it took some bystanders to wrestle the dude to the ground until the situation became under control.
Disney tower of terror fight
WHERE IS SECURITY?!
The now-infamous YouTube video of the drunk man being pepper-sprayed by Disneyland Security in front of Tower of Terror didn’t just have the online fan community buzzing, it had the entire Resort talking from the hourly Cast Members that witnessed it on Saturday afternoon right on up to the TDA executives who went into damage control mode on Sunday evening.
Obviously there has been the occasional unruly drunk in the parks for decades, and worse scenarios have played out over the years with hundreds of millions of people visiting Disney theme parks around the world. That said, this particular incident was certainly unfortunate for all involved. But after gathering the facts over the last few days, it’s a situation that was created by a perfect storm of bad luck, a delayed call for help, and some boneheaded policy decisions.
The incident as seen on the YouTube video is really just the tail end of a longer scenario, and something front line Cast Members often deal with nowadays. The disgruntled park guest, who reeked of alcohol, was in the park alone on Saturday. He had received a Guest Assistance Card (GAC) for a disability from the Guest Relations desk, but he had received a lesser stamp on his pass that didn’t allow him immediate boarding at DCA’s fully accessible queues and attractions. When the man tried to use his GAC at Tower of Terror, the Cast Member at the gate told him that the queue was fully accessible and that he would need to enter the lengthy Standby line or get a Fastpass and return later. The message that he needed to wait in line, even with his GAC, set him off and he began using profanity and demanding to be let on the ride immediately. The Attraction Lead was summoned to the front gate to help, and the Lead had the same problem calming the man down, and it was the Lead who called for Security to respond.
When the lone Security officer responded, practically the last available Security officer on that side of the park on that very busy holiday weekend at the same time that two paramedic runs were tying up other Security officers in nearby areas of DCA, the situation didn’t improve. The man refused to calm down, and only seemed to become more agitated at the sight of the uniformed Security officer approaching. The situation quickly turned physical, and that’s about the time when the nearby visitors with the camera began taping the incident.
The video mostly speaks for itself, but where the Security officer made his one mistake in the heat of the moment was in not calling for backup immediately upon his arrival with a visibly troubled individual. Not until after the pepper spray had been used several times did the Security officer call for additional backup, and you can see the officer go for his radio for the first time at about the 2:00 mark in the video. Also at about the 2:00 mark in the video the Tower Attractions Lead was calling for backup from his managers on the Attractions radio channel which is separate from the Security channel, and Hollywood Land Attractions Leads and managers who heard the frantic radio calls began heading to the Tower area immediately.
Additional Security officers arrive at about the 3:00 minute mark on the video, roughly 60 seconds after the first officer finally made his radio calls for backup. It’s also at the 3:00 minute mark, with additional Security and some good Samaritans stepping forward from the crowd and finally controlling the man on the ground, that the Attractions Cast Members turn their attention away from the violent man and quickly move into crowd control mode to help clear the area. The 3:00 mark is also when backup Leads and managers from around Hollywood arrive and begin controlling the crowd. Just a few moments after the video concludes is when additional Security management and some of the Anaheim police officers that are always on property arrive from the backstage gate next to Tower of Terror. The response time for all that extra help begins to arrive and leap into action within 60 seconds, but unfortunately those calls weren’t made until two minutes after the video begins.
While the video can be painful to watch as it seems like an eternity until help arrives, the help is delayed primarily because the Cast Members involved spent the first two minutes of the video dealing with a very disturbed individual before realizing this was something they would need a lot of help with. Of course the Monday morning quarterbacks can comfortably say they would have deflected the punches and called for backup simultaneously, or done a dozen things differently and far more effectively, but in defense of the CM’s the situation was volatile and rapidly changing over just two or three minutes.
The video also sheds light on just how inadequate Disney’s current training is for scenarios like this. The Attractions Cast Members involved on the video, one of whom was the Lead for that E Ticket ride, go out of their way to stand back and let the man become violent, just as they are trained to do. Disney’s training, while often vague regarding emergency situations, expressly forbids any Cast Member from touching a guest no matter how violent or threatening he or she may be. The Attractions Cast Members are doing exactly as they were trained in the first few minutes of the video by simply allowing the man to spiral into violence and physical abuse. However, when the CM’s begin to touch the man and help the Security officer restrain him, they were then violating Company policy and put themselves at risk for disciplinary action or termination. Luckily, this video went viral and Anaheim management knows full well they can’t fire or discipline the Cast Members involved now, and so far none of the Cast Members involved have received discipline even after being interviewed at length by Disney’s Security Special Services investigative department this past weekend.
The second issue involves the use of the pepper spray. That is not something Disney provides for its Security Cast Members, nor does it encourage its use. However the Walt Disney Company has a policy on the books that allows any employee to carry pepper spray on their person at any time they are on Disney property. The policy was originally created mainly for women carrying pepper spray in their purse, but the Security Cast Members took advantage of it and many began working their shifts with pepper spray clipped to their belts. Disney’s legal department in North America, afraid to put too much definition around the policy as a defensive measure against potential lawsuits, gave the de facto green light to the practice by Security officers several years ago. So instead of equipping the Security Cast Members with a quality pepper spray product and training them on its proper and appropriate use, the legal department’s unwillingness to address the issue has led to many CM’s carrying pepper spray and using it to varying degrees of effectiveness on unruly park visitors. And in the age of the iPhone, such an ugly confrontation can be up on YouTube and go viral within hours.
You would think this modern age would encourage Disney to beef up their training against physical attacks on Cast Members, but instead the company has done the opposite and provided practically no training or information aside from the instructions to “don’t touch anyone and wait for help to arrive who will also not touch anyone.”
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