As promised during my recent visit to Disney World I paid special attention to security looked for details and information that would affect CHL holders. We visited all the major venues and the only difference in security I noted between venues was that glass containers are not allowed into Animal Kingdom due to concerns with the animals and broken glass. Everything else below appeared to apply to all venues:
First off, with regard to Disney’s security personnel. Those that I saw appeared to be either retired law enforcement or current / prior military (Guard/ Reserve). No way to be sure of course, but if you’ve ever been in you know the “look”. While they may not be Jack Bauer I suspect that Disney hires fairly high quality people. Their entire operation was very high-class in all aspects: clean, infrastructure well maintained, polite and helpful personnel, etc. There’s no reason to believe they would scrimp on security.
Despite the number of visitors the security situation for Disney World is actually pretty good. It is isolated from anything else. To get to most of the major venues you must park at some distance and take Disney transportation to the venue. The Magic Kingdom, for example, is only accessible by boat or monorail. This breaks visitors up into manageable packets. If someone detonates a bomb on a monorail or ferry the number of possible casualties is relatively small. While the bag check at the entrances to the parks seemed fairly cursory and there was no search of a visitor’s person I don’t think their security is really geared to finding individual handguns. The security and transportation measures ensure that no long arms or large explosive devices can be brought in which would seem to be the major security threat. Maintenance operations are conducted when the park is closed. Thus outside access for large trucks and non-Disney support personnel is restricted to hours when the park is the least attractive target. I would also assume that, given they spend tens of thousands per night on fireworks, that there is provision for response to almost any conceivable threat. I know from an acquaintance that there were civil defense plans for visitors during the Cold War, and that those plans have morphed into response plans for WMD threats. Given Disney’s budget and the fact that they have to be high on some terrorist’s wish list I would be very surprised if Disney didn’t have organic or contracted assets to deal with bomb threats, active shooters or any other imaginable emergency available on site. I do know they have their own fire department.
With regard to personal firearms, I talked with a security guard at Magic Kingdom for a bit. He was in his mid-20’s, and stated he was an MP and member of the Florida Army National Guard when asked about his experience and Disney’s hiring standards/ procedures. He stated that the licensed carrying of firearms inside the gates to any venues was not illegal, but getting caught would get you expelled from the property (without refund). The Disney hotels and resorts on Disney property require that firearms be checked with the front desk and stored in the hotel’s main safe NOT in the rooms or room safes. Day visitors could leave their firearms in their vehicles or notify a security guard who would assist them in checking the firearm into the security station at the main gate where it would be kept in an individual locker to which the visitor kept the key. He also stated that in the two years he had worked there he had never personally seen anyone avail themselves of the service, though some people apparently do. He stated that ONLY LEO personnel with jurisdiction on the property and currently on official business were allowed to carry firearms on Disney property. I did see several county sheriff vehicles on roads on the property. I suspect they pay the county for extra patrols much like many POA/HOAs do. Despite the apparent “weaponless” policy I would be very surprised, as noted above, if Disney does not have some sort of armed response available on-site.
The only security checks were at the entrances to the main venues: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, etc. The resorts and hotels and the transportation between them and the venues had no security at all. Examining this it would seem that there is a hole in their firearms policy. You can be ON the property, but not in a gated venue, and armed as long as you don't leave your weapon in your room or attempt to enter one of the venues. Also as stated above the gate security and bag check is vanishingly unlikely to discover a handgun on your person unless you’re a complete idiot or extremely unlucky. There IS the issue of keeping the weapon secure on the various rides.
In summary I think Disney does as well as can be expected given their challenges. While it would be fairly easy to get a weapon into the venues I think it would have minimal value and probably be more hassle to keep concealed than it was worth. If I WAS going to try it SmartCarry is probably the way to go.