new-disneys-animal-kingdom-security-imagineer2017_3-6562610

Arrests For Carrying Firearms Increased at Walt Disney World in Past Year Despite Closures and Reduced Attendance

Despite having been closed for four months, Walt Disney World saw more guests attempting to enter property with firearms in the past year. Among these incidents was a guest who claimed their six-year-old was supposed to be watching their loaded gun, and another who was carrying two handguns (and marijuana) in a diaper bag.

The Orlando Sentinel reports about even more incidents of guests purposefully bringing firearms or forgetting they were carrying them.

21-year-old Iraqi immigrant Mustafa Alameen had 100 rounds of ammunition and a handgun in an otherwise empty stroller when he visited Disney Springs in February. Alameen says he was planning to go to a firing range later and forgot he was carrying the ammunition and firearm. He realized his mistake when the security alarm went off but was still arrested.

new-disneys-animal-kingdom-security-imagineer2017_3-6562610

Luis Piloto Serrano, 31, from Hillsborough County, is among those who weren’t aware firearms aren’t allowed at Walt Disney World theme parks. He was arrested when he walked up to Magic Kingdom with his loaded 9mm pistol on his right hip.

Aleem’s attorney, Brian Byrd, thinks many of the arrests are unfair, stating, “These are people who don’t have any ill intent … Most of these people are not bad people. It’s not just Disney. People get caught with guns accidentally at the courthouse, at the airport. It happens all the time.”

On the other hand, Len Testa, co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, argues, “If you don’t know where it is all the time, should you really even have a gun? That just seems like one of the responsible things to gun ownership: To know where it is all the time.”

At least 20 people were arrested due to carrying firearms at Walt Disney World in 2020, while only four were arrested in 2016. By mid-April 2021, 14 people have already been arrested.

According to experts, this rise in gun-related arrests is partially due to a trend of new people buying guns in 2020 due to the pandemic and political protests. Walt Disney World has also updated its security in the past year with new technology by Evolv, including at Disney Springs which did not previously have such tight security.

About 75% of arrests in the past year have happened at Disney Springs. A handful of arrests happened at Disney Springs in previous years, when guests were caught with guns throughout the shopping center, but rarely upon entering.

Not all guests who arrive with firearms are arrested. A guest with a concealed carry permit packed an AR-15 and handgun to protect against Black Lives Matter protesters for his stay at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Disney stored his guns in a safe and returned them to him when he checked out.

Another incident in February involved a 52-year-old Georgia man attempting to enter Disney’s Hollywood Studios with a gun but no valid permit. The sheriff’s office took possession of the gun but did not arrest the man and allowed him to enter the park.

Later, a 36-year-old Georgia woman was caught with a gun in her bag at Disney Springs. She wasn’t arrested but was banned from Walt Disney World property.

Approximately one in every three firearm-related arrests were Central Floridians, while most were tourists from elsewhere in Florida or other states, primarily Georgia, Texas, and Alabama. Gun laws vary from state to state, accounting for some of the confusion guests experience when arriving at Walt Disney World.

Only one arrest that the Sentinel found was a Cast Member. In September, Eric Collazo, a chef at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort, was arrested when he was caught with a stolen gun.

While other regional amusement parks report issues with guests concealing weapons, Universal Orlando Resort made no arrests in 2020 for concealed carry. That being said, a third-party contractor was caught by Universal security with a loaded gun in his bag back in October. He was subsequently banned from Universal Orlando Resort for a year, but not arrested.

Universal spokesman Tom Schroder told the Sentinel that there are secure weapons lockers for guests with concealed carry permits to use as storage. If someone does not have a permit, Universal then contacts the Orlando Police Department.

Most guests caught with firearms at Walt Disney World are fined and don’t face prison time, though some do end up with a felony record.

As always, keep following WDWNT for all of your Disney Parks news, and for the absolute latest, follow WDW News Today on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

For more information on booking your next trip with our official travel agent sponsor, the Vacationeer, visit wdwnt.travel.

3 10 votes
Article Rating
7 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Robert S.
Robert S.
4 months ago

Why does WDWNT identify the ethnic background of the Iraqi man and not the man and woman from Georgia or anyone else for that matter?

Tom Corless
Admin
3 months ago
Reply to  Robert S.

We posted whatever was in the Orlando Sentinel article.

Tamandua
Tamandua
4 months ago

People used to take guns to the parks all the time before they tightened security. I know law enforcement officers who used to bring their guns to the parks, just like they took them everywhere else. The haunted mansion even has a bullet hole from when a guest shot a gun on the ride in the 70s. I’m sort of impressed that Disney caught a lot of these guys, but I’m sure they didn’t catch them all. I’ve often gotten my pocket knife through security. In fact, I’ve never been caught trying to take a knife in. Of course I… Read more »

Kai Kami
Kai Kami
4 months ago

If you gonna legit say I forgot I had my gun on me or I forgot I had 100 rounds on me wtf do even have it for. If something was to actually go down you wouldn’t even remember you had it to use. 😂

Doug
Doug
4 months ago

I am an ex police officer and gun owner. You should know where your weapon is and you should know if you have one on you. If you do not, then you need to train more. If you have a permit, you should be left alone as long as you are not in the parks. Too easy for something to accidentally fall out on an intense ride. Leave them at home or in the car if going in the parks. No reason a permit holder vetted by state governments should not be allowed to carry while at Disney Springs or… Read more »

Frank Wierenga
Frank Wierenga
4 months ago

That lawyer knows better. Intent is doesn’t have an impact on fairness. They had the weapons on a private property which prohibits weapons. They are guilty.

They would be better off pleading “no contest” and saying they didn’t know about the rules. It is not a legal excuse but at least that is honest.

Sean
Sean
4 months ago

How are they responsible gun owners if they are forgetting they are carrying a loaded weapon? How are they responsible if they are ignoring weapon rules for businesses they are visiting?