So we went to Anaheim last week for a hockey tournament and spent several days at Disneyland. We had a lot of fun and I’ll post pictures and all that good stuff later but first I had to post this…
My mom and I were talking when we got back about the number of security personnel at the park. There are literally hundreds you see and probably as many more you don’t see. They have people at the front gates who check your carry in bags for weapons, etc… and then you go through another screening with your ticket. Then you get in the park and you see uniformed security, some with dogs for bomb and drug sniffing and the like. Then you figure there are probably a ton of plain clothes security scattered throughout so really there are just an insane amount of them who are looking for the obvious and there to maintain order.
I got to thinking about child predators which of course most mothers would do. I am thinking Disney parks are probably a virtual Wonderland for them and let’s face it, all the security in the world can’t protect every child in those parks from an unseen threat. Then I got to thinking about the ears…
Most every kid who goes to a Disney park inevitably ends up with a set of their very own ears. It’s a rite of passage and I didn’t see a single non-eared head in the park the entire 4 days we spent there, including my own kids. The best part of buying ears is when you go to the ear store there is a monogramming booth, you get your name or some version thereof monogrammed on your ears (or hat if you prefer as Elizabeth does). I saw plain ears/hats with just a first name on them and then I saw more intricate monogramming such as “Happy First Birthday Jayden 2010” and many more. You get the picture.
Everywhere you go in the park the “cast members” will see the hats/ears and call your kids by their names. The kids love that; “how does Tinkerbell know my name?!” After we got home and my mom and I were conversing, it made me think of a pamphlet Joey brings home from school the first day every single year.
In the pamphlet it STRONGLY discourages placing any identifying information about your child in public view. For instance it suggests you NOT purchase those oh so nifty monogrammed backpacks. Sure it might help you find your kid’s bag if he misplaces it, but it also gives a child predator all of the information he needs to victimize your child. It suggests only using the inner tags of coats, bags, lunchboxes, etc… to identify it as belonging to your child. That way some schmuck can’t come up to your child in the schoolyard and say “Oh Joey your mom sent me to pick you up”.
I realized Disney’s monogrammed ears and hats are probably INCREDIBLY dangerous. Especially if you have a 3 year old like mine who tends to like to wander and speak to people she meets along the way. She’s from Wyoming and while we definitely have had instances of child predation, they are few here (knock on wood) and there really aren’t many true “strangers” in a town this size.
Then I realized how sad this all really is. It’s DISNEY! When we were young our parents never had to think twice about these things, but in this day and age my daughter’s monogrammed Tinker Bell hat that should be a forever reminder of her experience at the “most magical place on Earth” really could have been one of the worst decisions I ever made. I have literally had nightmares about it for two days. I keep seeing those scenes from the movies or “Without a Trace” where the parent looks away for a second in a crowd and turns back around to find their child has disappeared.
I’m probably totally over-reacting but it truly scared the crap out of me when I thought about it so I had to tell you about it.
PS/ Why can’t Disney parks institute some kind of system like Chuckie Cheese has? When you go to Chuckie Cheese you get an invisible stamp (you can only see it under a black light) that matches your child’s stamp. You can’t leave the restaurant with a child who doesn’t have the same stamp as you. I’m sure it’s not fool proof as they probably only have so many stamps and a really industrious predator could probably find a child with a matching stamp, but it really does lessen the odds of your child being victimized. Disney stamps your hand when you leave the park for the day in case you want to return. Surely they could stamp your hands upon entry…