Walt Disney World is supposed to be a place where people escape from the real world and find joy in the fantastic. It's the most magical place on earth and yet, it seems that things are getting a little too real at Disney World as the number of firearms, and associated arrests, have only increased in the last year, during a time when the parks themselves have been either closed or dealing with significantly reduced capacity.
According to a story in the Orlando Sentinel, at least 20 people were arrested for bringing guns onto Walt Disney World property in 2020. While that number certainly isn't massive considering that millions of people visit the resort every year, there were apparently only four gun related arrests in 2016, so arrests increased by a factor of five, and this was during the year that Disney World spent several months closed, and saw a reduced capacity for most of the rest of the year, so there were many more arrests and a lot fewer people. And it looks like 2021 is only going to get worse. Apparently at least 14 people have already been arrested for carrying guns between January and April.
While the number of arrests is certainly a small portion of the total number of guests, there are far more guns that are apparently brought to Walt Disney World every year. These numbers are only the times that arrests were made, when the weapon in question was being carried illegally. If a guest who has a valid conceal carry permit attempts to bring the weapon onto Disney property, they are not allowed to do so, as Walt Disney World specifically prohibits carrying firearms, but they are not typically arrested, they must simply remove the weapon from the property.
The exact reason for the increase in gun arrests isn't entirely clear. We have seen an increase in gun sales in recent years, and even simply in the last year due to the pandemic, and that appears to be a contributing factor though it's unclear if that's really the only reason. We've certainly seen a lot of increased stress in the parks in recent months.
It's also possible that the increase in weapon discovery is simply a side effect of increased screening in the parks. Closer examinations of bags and new technology may have simply made it easier for Disney World cast members to locate weapons that were being brought in. Perhaps there have always been this many guns moving through the parks, but now they're all being caught.
If we are seeing more guns in Disney World simply because of current circumstances, that some feel safer keeping their guns with them, then we'll likely see the numbers begin to tapper off as time moves on. Either that, or these numbers could become the "new normal."