ORLANDO — If you’re planning on staying at one of Disney’s three monorail properties near the Magic Kingdom – the Grand Floridian, Polynesian and Contemporary – don’t be surprised if you receive unexpected visitors in your room.
The three Orlando hotels are instituting a new policy that does away with “Do Not Disturb” signs in favor of ‘Room Occupied” signs, which would allow staff, or cast members as they’re known, to enter a room at any time.
This new security policy is intended to “ensure guest safety,” and comes after the mass shooting Las Vegas last October when a gunman opened fire on concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival, killing 58 people and injuring 546. The shooter, Stephen Paddock, 64, fired more than 1,100 rounds from his hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. The gunman was later found dead in his room with a stockpile of weapons.
Until now, “Do Not Disturb” signs were intended to steer hotel employees away from occupied rooms. Under the new, “the hotel and its staff reserve the right to enter your room for any purpose including, but not limited to, performing maintenance and repairs or checking on the safety and security of guests and property.”
Though cast members are expected to knock and announce that they are entering before accessing a room, they will be required to enter all rooms at least once a day. Disney’s monorail resorts are all taller hotels with views of the grounds. Though officials have not said why they are changing the policy, it is assumed that the Las Vegas massacre played into their decision-making.
“We bought a motor home when I retired because of all the security issues,” one Disney guest told the Associated Press. “Like, you never know when somebody can come in your room when you’re not in your room.”
Other hotels around the country have tightened up security measures as well. In Chicago, for example, hotel workers now carry panic buttons to protect them from assault, and in Seattle, hotel staff carry electronic whistles, iPads with emergency alert features, and GPS-equipped buttons.
The American Hotel and Lodging Association has supported the Chicago measures, stating, “Safety and security—whether for our employees or guests—is top priority.”
Earlier this year, six female Plaza Hotel employees filed a lawsuit in New York alleging they were subjected to constant sexual harassment.
Also, a report from Polaris, a nonprofit organization fighting to end modern-day slavery and human trafficking, revealed that “victims of labor trafficking have been found in hospitality businesses such as hotels, motels, resorts, or casinos working as front desk attendants, bell staff, and, most frequently, in housekeeping.” Polaris has received the support of the Wyndham Hotel Group.
“The hospitality industry plays a critical role in the fight against modern slavery, since many traffickers exploit their victims in hotels and motels,” said Bradley Myles, CEO of Polaris. “If we are to truly eradicate human trafficking, it’s absolutely essential that companies like Wyndham take proactive steps to combat this crime at the root while also helping victims rebuild their lives. Polaris applauds Wyndham Hotel Group for integrating a responsible business culture company-wide and for actively taking such a strong stance against human trafficking.”
A report released by the NYPD earlier this year showed that between 2011 and 2015, hotel and motel crime grew by 19.3 percent. In 2015, there were 2,178 hotel crimes reported to police, including 56 rapes, which rose 40 percent from the total five years earlier.