Walt Disney World And Other Theme Parks On ‘High Alert’ Following Orlando Shootings

In the wake of the tragic shootings at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Fla. where 50 people were killed on early Sunday, the area’s many theme parks and attractions have gone on “high alert.”

According to the Orlando Sentinel, visitors at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom park were put through very thorough security checks of their bags with reportedly one employee unzipping visitors’ wallets.

On Sunday, at Universal Studios’ CityWalk attraction, Fort Lauderdale resident Rodrigo Salles was said to be relieved to find that Universal had metal detectors and a bag check when he visited on Sunday. This made him feel “a little secure.”

“We’re not scared. What can we do? It’s a dangerous world that we live in,” said Salles.

The Disney Parks-centric blog site Chip & Company reported that on top of the long lines, visitors had to go through metal detectors whether they had a bag or not.

The blog site asked their readers to, “Please be patient with Disney World Security when trying to get into the parks today, the cast members are just looking out for your protection.”

Alabama reported that following the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, Calif. in December 2015, Disney World had installed several metal detectors at it’s Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom parks. Additionally, the parks also stopped selling tour guns and prohibited people from bringing in large backpacks, radio controlled toys, and drones in the park.

“We are all heartbroken by the tragic and horrific events in Orlando, and offer our thoughts, prayers and support to everyone in our community affected by this senseless act,” said Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Company in a statement.

As reported by CNN Money, SeaWorld shared their condolences on Twitter and released a statement noting their top priority is keeping visitors, employees, and their animals safe.

They added, “Our security teams work closely with law enforcement, and we have enhanced security measures at all our parks… we do not comment on the details of our security measures in order to maintain their effectiveness.”

“The carnage that occurred is going to elevate security at all parks, arenas, stadiums, theaters. I believe this massacre will be the ‘tipping point’ for all venues listed above,” said Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services told the Orlando Sentinel.

He continued, “Total security’ is the way we must operate. Metal, dogs, officers, random checks, multiple checks as well at the entrances will happen.”

Attractions Magazine tweeted a photo of the American flag being lowered at half-mast at Disney’s Magic Kingdom park in honor of those who were killed.

Robert Niles of the website Theme Park Insider, noted that the Pulse Nightclub which is in a less touristy area of Orlando, was frequented by employees of Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and other theme parks in the vicinity.

“We’ve not seen a list of the victims, but it is hard to imagine that cast and team members will not be among them,” said Niles.

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Niles called the shootings “troubling for Orlando” fearing for both the residents of the city and echoing the tourism industry’s worries of people associating the city with violence.

Despite this, he believes that many visitors will continue to see Walt Disney World and the other theme parks as “standalone destinations” that are separate from the city.

Niles added, “It’s a rough, rough day today in Orlando. But here’s our message to our friends throughout the community — we’re all here for you, no matter where we are.”

Walt Disney World and other Orlando theme parks aren’t the only ones taking extra security measures.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, more police would be on hand to keep Universal Studios in Universal City, Calif. secure. And at Disneyland in Anaheim, the police department revealed that the park would be closely monitored on top of already having a big presence of police in the area.

[Photo by Matt Stroshane/Getty Images]