ORLANDO, Fla. — 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.
It was one of several confrontations on Disney property in recent weeks as some guests have angrily refused to follow Disney’s pandemic safety rules. Some of the situations have led to arrests, although not in the case of the spitting man, who hurried inside the hotel and disappeared in the elevators before he could be identified on Feb. 5.
At Disney World, visitors are required to have their temperatures checked and they must wear masks at the four theme parks, hotels and Disney Springs. Many have praised Disney for putting strict rules in place and devoting employees to enforce them during the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 31,000 Floridians.
But Orange County Sheriff’s reports released to the Orlando Sentinel also depict the challenges theme parks and their employees face enforcing the rules. Not everyone is willing to obey them. Some visitors spit. They yell. They push Disney employees out of their way. They are drunkenly defiant.
“There’s never a day when I don’t have a story,” said one employee whose regular job was upended during the pandemic so she took a new assignment enforcing mask rules in the Disney Springs parking garages. “I cried the first week I started. It was not a good time at all. Imagine going to work every single day where people ridicule you.”
People get angry because they can’t wear a gaiter mask or don’t understand why Disney has mask requirements when the state of Florida does not, the employee said. She asked not to be identified over concerns about losing her job.
“I’ve had a guest literally get right up in my face and literally curse me out,” she said.
She was scared she was going to get punched if her supervisor hadn’t been there, she said.