Guests traveling to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World will soon be re-routed to the former site of Discovery Island to be screened by security prior to entering the park. The move is meant to alleviate crowd congestion in the small area in front of Magic Kingdom.
“We were looking for ways to thin out the crowd and then someone [at the meeting] mentioned Discovery Island and we were like, ‘well, duh!’,” said Harris Bonneville, Vice President of Security for Magic Kingdom Park. “It was the perfect answer to our problem.”
Guests traveling to the Magic Kingdom in recent years have noticed the – how do I say this in the most delicate way? – clusterfuck of people trying to jam their way through the gates outside the Magic Kingdom. A constant stream of guests arriving by boat, bus, monorail, or on foot meant a solid stream of people for the first several hours at the world’s most popular park.
Other ideas were looked at, such as moving the security screening back to the Transportation and Ticket Center and to the resort hotels for guests arriving by monorail, but none of them made more sense than funneling everyone to Discovery Island via boat.
Discovery Island was a zoological park that operated at Disney World from 1974 – 1999. It closed shortly after Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened. It currently sits abandoned and unused.
The new system will work like this: guests will arrive at the Magic Kingdom the way they normally do – by bus, boat, or monorail. From there, guests will all board new “Friendship”-styled boats, as seen on Epcot’s World Showcase Lagoon. Guests will then travel by boat to Discovery Island in groups of 50 to be screened through security. After all guests on your boat have been screened, that same boat will then take you back to the Magic Kingdom so you can enjoy your day.
“We did a mock-run with this new system, and it only added about 120 minutes to our day,” concluded Bonneville. “This was of course with no crowds and only one boat operational. But once the system is up and running, we will have up to three boats running at any given time… four during peak periods.”
We spoke to a security guard at the Magic Kingdom to get his thoughts on the matter.
“I think it’s a fantastic idea,” Thomas Jefferson Geronimo III, Security Officer at Magic Kingdom said. “It’s all about guest safety. We wanted to eliminate areas where large concentrations of unscreened guests are congregating, so to move them off site makes a ton of sense to me.”
The new screening procedures will take effect July 4, 2017.