EPCOT was as Walt Disney said best, “the heart of everything we’ll be doing in Disney World,” so when I see a video hit the internet of a fight in the queue of Test Track, one of Epcot’s most popular thrill rides, my heart shatters and my gut — well this kind of stuff just makes me sick. As you can see from the footage captured by another guest, a fight breaks out between three women and to make matters worse one uses an umbrella as a baton to beat another. Frankly this is unacceptable behavior anywhere and it would certainly seem to fit into the guidelines for an ejection from a Walt Disney World theme park but alas according to the reporting by WFTV who broke the story, no guest involved in this all-out brawl was booted from the park. An Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy responded to the scene but no arrests were made. More dangerous to me than the incident itself, is the precedent that has been set. Crimes, even violent ones are going unpunished and that sends the wrong signals that allow for incidents like this or worse to occur again.
As disgraceful as the violent acts were within Epcot, turning a blind eye to them are almost as reprehensible. No one should abdicate their responsibility to call out the bad when they see it and stand up for the good no matter how small a perceived infraction might seem. Social norms are created through millions of these tiny deeds each day and just trying to have problems fade away is bad policy for a business and a terrible omen for a free society that depends on everyone doing their part to make freedom and liberty what it’s meant to be.
Although its hard to quantify these things, anecdotally I can tell you that you can see some of the effects of a degraded culture spilling into Disney Parks. Though I’ve never seen someone get into a brawl at Walt Disney World in my almost 30 years on this planet, I’ve heard many a story from cast members but more recently witnessed several events that just make one shake their head. It wasn’t too long ago we captured one such incident at Epcot where a guest exhibited behavior that is unbecoming. Sadly everyone just stared at the incident as it took place but said nothing as is all too often the case. My party who arrived at the scene as the incident was almost over went to alert a Disney cast member who politely told a friend of mine that she couldn’t help because she didn’t work directly for the Walt Disney Company and asked us to go hunt for another cast member. At that point, it was hopeless.
It is going to be growing problem that the Walt Disney Company must at some point must confront more directly. Guests due to lack of manners, education or a multitude of other societal reasons are used to getting away with bad behavior and now do so at Walt Disney World as well to the detriment of the many countless other wonderful people you will meet and enjoy as I often do during my visits to Disney Parks. There are no easy answers and certainly every incident is to be handled differently but when Disney has a plain and simple case in front of them where an object-turned-weapon was used the punishment should be appropriate and have a magical rest of your day at Epcot doesn’t quite cut it. It hurts the others who try so hard to do right each and every day and worst of all its hurts the image of Epcot, Walt Disney’s heart and soul for The Florida Project.